AHMEDABAD: India’s ace-blind cricketer Bhalaji Damor’s apathetic condition is just a reflection of how insensitive the Gujarat bureaucracy is towards the visually impaired. Gujarat today is the only state which restricts completely visually impaired from government jobs via its own February 2013 government notification of the education department.
Rajesh Mulwani, for instance, who is totally blind, is today the principal of District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) in Amreli district. Not because the government selected him under reservation, but he had to fight against the government in the Gujarat high court, which ruled in his favour in January 2013, and ensured that Mulwani was “deemed fit” for the principal’s post.
Mulwani’s struggle also inspired 14 other completely visually impaired students seeking primary teacher jobs last year to move the HC against the government against the 2010 resolution. “There have been two HC rulings against the government on the issue of not recruiting 100 per cent blind teachers but the government still refuses to withdraw the notification,” says Mulwani. Ironically, there are more than 250 totally blind teachers, recruited in government primary schools of the state.
Bushan Punani, executive secretary of the Blind People’s Association (BPA) says, “The 2013 resolution is against section 32 of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. This notification in turn fixes criteria for recruitment for visually impaired as people with more than 40% but less than 75% vision for teachers job.”
In another case Ravi Segliya, 32, was among 31 totally blind primary school teachers who had to knock on the high court’s door to figure in the list of 23,500 primary school teachers recruited between July 5, 2010 and September 5, 2011. The PIL was filed by a blind candidate Kaushik Akabari.
“The 2013 notification reserves just 1.5% jobs for people with low vision and not completed blind candidates” says Segliya. He adds, “After the high court ruled in our favour in 2011 we had to file a contempt application in 2012 so that government acts on the court’s order ,” says Segliya.