World Disabled Day: Awareness seems to be growing
THE Disability Act of 1996, which provides for three per cent reservation in all Government departments, is yet to be implemented in full its full spirit.
Madhu Singhal, who runs an NGO, Mitra Jyothi and is an executive member of National Federation of the Blind says, “Although there is a provision for reservation, the Government has made the recruitment procedure very complicated. I feel the director or commissioner of the Department of Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens should be a disabled person,” she said.
Similarly, Dipesh Sutariya of Enable India, an NGO that works with 149 corporate firms across India to recruit disabled people, has noticed a lot of policy change in private sector. However, he stressed that the Government should fill its quota before asking the private sectors to enforce the reservation.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens, which works under Department of Women and Child Development, has no statistics on how many disabled persons are on Government payroll. However, Director G Jairam ensures that they are collecting the data from different departments and will have the figures in a few months.
However, he estimates that there would be roughly about 300 disabled people working in the Government agencies. Besides, it seems that the three per cent reservation is only limited to certain identified posts.
Stating the reason for the Government’s poor performance in recruiting disabled people, Jairam said, “There is a general recruitment ban in all the departments for the last many years, except education, health and police. In fact, 20 per cent of the vacancies are being surrendered and jobs are being outsourced. So the job opportunities will now have to be created in private sectors.”
Interestingly, the Directorate has not recruited any disabled person till now. “We have written to the Government to allow us to recruit. However, it is still pending. All the officers and staff are on deputation from the Women and Child Development Department,” he said. The saving grace has been that each district had one disabled official and his office recently got two disabled staff recently.
Meanwhile, the Directorate is collecting statistics about the number of disabled people from each gram panchayat in the State and will take about six months to compile.
* Over 6.5 lakh disabled people live in villages
* About 51.4 per cent of the total disabled population is literate
* Lack of education, training and employment prevent them entering the mainstream.
Private sector proactive in reserving jobs
Employment is a critical issue for the disabled. But is the private sector proactive in reserving jobs for them, even if it is not so ‘high’ as three per cent, as reiterated by the Department of Women and Child Development Secretary Dr D S Ashwath.
With the State’s population of disabled persons touching 10 lakh (2001 census), Deccan Herald takes a look at some of the private firms, which have been active in recruiting people with disability on ‘World Disability Day’.
Having close to 190 employees with disability, Infosys BPO began to actively recruit them three years ago. Under this, the company now has an Equal Opportunity team in place, which aims at integrating them with other employees. “We felt that these people needed an initial pull, which would enable them to show their efficiency. It also makes a good business sense to recruit disabled people because they are good performers, hardworking and very loyal. So recruiting them is not a disadvantage at all,” said
Raghavendra K, Vice-President and Head of Human Resources, Infosys BPO.
The recruitment initiatve has also made the company to improve its infrastructure and policies to make them more disabled-friendly. “In the last three years, the entire system – infrastructure, training programmes, etc – has undergone a lot of change. Initially we took a lot of people and found that there wasn’t adequate support system. Today, the system is more geared to take these people,” he said.
Café Coffee Day, a popular coffee chain, has about 80 hearing impaired employees. They are mainly recruited to brew coffee. Shyamala Deshpande of Café Coffee Day said, “They have a heightened sense of smell, taste and vision and hence, deliver the most visually appealing presentation of our coffees. They are excellent quality controllers.”
(Published in Deccan Herald on 3rd December, 2009; along with L Subramani)