Based on all the feedback received, DRG has had two internal meetings to review the entire matter. Later today, at 5.30 pm, we have convened a meeting of all the key people based in Delhi. SK Rungta, Rajive Raturi, representative of RVM, Merry Barua, and several others have all agreed to meet. We will keep you informed.
NEW DISABILITY RIGHTS BILL UPDATE; 24TH JANUARY: An extremely important meeting took place earlier today evening at AADI. The following persons attended: SK Rungta, National Federation of the Blind; Deependra Manocha, National Association of the Blind;Merry Barua, Action for Autism; Rashtriya Viklang Manch's Shailendra; Muralidharan, Nprd India; Rajive Raturi, HRLN; Radhika Alkazi, ARTH ASTHA; S hanti Auluck,Muskaan Dera;Syamala Gidugu, AADI; Vandana Bedi, AADI; Dorodi Sharma, NCPEDP; and me. The discussion was centred around 3 options:
- to kill the Bill and not allow it to be tabled;
- to try and get it tabled and then referred to a Standing Committee;
- to try and get it passed.
The broad understanding that emerged was for us to first identify the most significant/glaring issues that need to be addressed. Take those to MSJE and negotiate corrections and changes. Based on their response, decide the further course of action and NOT rush into the "kill the bill" mood. We decided to meet again tomorrow. The meeting would take place at NAD.
HARD AT WORK (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT): Shanti Auluck, Merry Barua, G. Syamala, Dipendra Manocha, SK Rungta, Rajive Raturi, and Shailendra Yadav. Vandana Bedi and Javed Abidi are also present but not seen in the photo.
NEW DISABILITY RIGHTS BILL UPDATE; 27TH JANUARY: Undaunted by barbs, criticism, even personal insults, one moves on. Ahead. The group that was formed on 24th January, at an emergency meeting in AADI, had it's third meeting today. At NFB. After some back and forth, a joint position has been formed. The group has agreed to operate under the banner entitled 'Joint Forum for Disability Rights'. A draft has already been circulated, reasonably widely I would say. But, anyhow, once our Joint Memorandum is ready (by tomorrow, I hope), we will unveil it. Then, we would lobby for it. We will leave no stone unturned to "Save the Bill". With some modifications and changes of course.
Various disability sector leaders/groups met again in Delhi today to revisit the situation with the new law and discuss the strategies ahead. This includes people from AADI, Action for Autism, Arth-Astha, DRG, HRLN, Jan Madhyam, Muskaan, NAB, National Thalassemia Welfare Society, Northern Railway Physically Handicapped Employees Welfare Association, NPRD, NCPEDP, PARIVAAR, Snehi, Swablamban among others.
NEW DISABILITY RIGHTS BILL UPDATE; 29TH JANUARY: It is beyond a shadow of doubt now that a significant majority, across the Nation, wants to SAVE the Bill. It is equally true that by and large nobody wants the Bill to be passed by the Parliament in it's present shape. If the Governments listens to us and makes the 20 odd changes we have placed before them, I for one would argue (and advocate) that the Bill should get passed in the upcoming session. If not, then obviously the matter would get referred to the Standing Committee and the sector would have to wait for another 1.5 to 2 years for the law to get enacted. One of my biggest concerns right now are people who inspite of having an impairment are not even considered as disabled persons. Anyway, let's see. The next few days would be one of the most interesting (as well as challenging!) times in my 22 years in the Indian disability sector.
GOOD NEWS: The new Disability Rights Bill is to be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, 5th February, the very 1st day of the Parliament. Joint Forum is in a meeting right now. More later.