New Delhi: The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today said that ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ must be renamed as ‘International Day of Persons with Special Abilities’, to reflect the enormous potential and capabilities that differently-abled people posses and to dispel the stigma that society attaches to disability. “They are certainly role models for many others and can make immense contribution to the cause of nation building, given the right kind of environment and opportunities”, he added.
He was addressing the gathering after presenting the National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Expressing deep concern at the evidently severe problems faced by differently-abled, in terms of their social and economic conditions, Shri Naidu said that we must build an inclusive society that is respectful and sensitive to the needs of the differently-abled.
He spoke of the need to provide right nutrition and care to pregnant mothers and young children and to create good and accessible medical facilities across rural India.
Stating that early identification of disability is crucial, he said that it would enable us to undertake effective interventions from the beginning for rehabilitation measures and empowerment of the affected persons. “There is also a need to harmonize the immunization and disease prevention programmes with appropriate rehabilitatory models at least at the District level”, he added, citing eradication of Polio is an excellent example of such coordinated efforts.
To minimise the disabilities from accidents, we need to improve road and workplace safety.
Referring to government reports that say road injuries caused 65% more disabilities in 2016 than in 1990, the Vice President called for improving road safety and spreading awareness about safe driving. He termed the recent amendments in Motor Vehicles Act as a step in the right direction.
The Vice President emphasized that a change in society’s attitude towards disability is crucial and added that differently-abled persons are not objects of ‘sympathy’ and ‘pity’ and must instead be given ‘empathy’ and ‘support’.
Shri Naidu said that all schools must strive to inculcate sensitivity towards disability in children early in their lives.
He applauded mainstream Indian cinema for creating many appreciable movies on the topic of disability and said that it is a good trend that needs to be further encouraged to change people’s perception about disability.
The Vice President applauded the Government’s initiatives to systematically address the challenges faced by the persons with disabilities, such as the amendment of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016.
Stating that education is the key to empowerment of every person including persons with disabilities, Shri Naidu called for setting up more inclusive schools and special schools to ensure that each disabled child gets good quality education.
Observing that creating accessible environment for persons with disabilities is of paramount importance, the Vice President said that there is a need to develop collaborative efforts among all stakeholders for developing barrier free environment for the Persons with Disabilities. He urged the corporate and the private entities to take all steps possible to make their infrastructure accessible to persons with disabilities.
Speaking of the need to include persons with disabilities in social and cultural activities, especially in sporting events, Shri Naidu said that it would instil a sense of inclusion and confidence amongst the persons with disabilities. He also applauded our sportspersons have constantly done country proud in Paralympics.
Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Hon’ble Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Ramdas Athavale, Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria, Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment and others were present on the occasion.