The article below was written by Shri Javed Abidi, Convenor of Disabled Rights Group after the Candlelight Vigil took place.
SAVING THE DISABILITY RIGHTS BILL 2013: It is bone chilling cold in Delhi. To top it, it has rained last night on Monday 30th December, 2013. Braving the weather, in a few hours from now, hundreds of disabled people turned up at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi and thus, history would witness that for the Nineth time in India, ordinary disabled people had to turn out on the streets in order to ensure that they are not forgotten or ignored by the powers that be and that their rights are not trampled upon. As candles were lit at 5 pm on 31st December, 2013, a type of a countdown would begin towards that day in late January or early February, when the Parliament would be convened that one last time before Lok Sabha is dissolved and General Elections are announced. It is this one last chance, one last small window that may, just may make it possible for India's 70 million disabled citizens to make their "Tryst with Destiny"
It is heart warming to see this kind of an enthusiasm! We were 1000 hundreds disabled people alongwith deaf people to be there at Jantar Mantar on 31st December, 2013. Not to mention the thousands who turned up at various venues in various cities, all across the country.
DEBATE: Once again, it is a 1995 like situation. The Parliament is at the very end of it's tenure. Elections are round the corner and may be announced at any time next month. Disability sector, as always, had dreams and desires. We worked very hard, first of all, for the Government to even agree that there should be a new Disability Rights Law. The drafting of the law took it's own time and then, all the loops and bends of the law making process. Finally, we have a Bill that has been passed by the Union Cabinet! The Bill may not have everything for everyone, but it does have a lot that we don't have today in this country; provisions that would benefit thousands and thousands perhaps millions of people with disabilities. If sanity prevails, this Bill may become an Act next month. However, if confusion is created and the Bill gets deferred, I am willing to lay a bet in this open forum that no new Disability Rights Law (this version or any other/better version) would see the light of the day till at least 2015. The sector in general and hundreds and thousands of disabled people in particular would end up paying a very big price; to not be able to get their very basic rights for at least another two more years. Friends, it has been over four years already. Are we willing to kill two more years in the search of that elusive 'perfection'?