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    OpinionsIssues calling loud attention in a Welfare State!

    Issues calling loud attention in a Welfare State!


    Issues calling loud attention in a Welfare State!

    By Dr Nirmal Kamal

    There are two issues perturbing me so far, one- the absence of welfare services to the senior citizens and persons with disabilities and two- the work among the service providers in our state. Under such circumstances the role of government and non-government organizations becomes significant as service providers. Both the platforms seem to be capable of providing the welfare service to the target groups. But there remains much to be accomplished before these platforms become vibrant along with capacity inclusive of will and power to move ahead.

    Talking about the first issue on priority, the State of Jammu & Kashmir has taken initiative to care and share grievances of the senior citizens but is yet to finalize statutory guidelines/rules for providing welfare services to the elders, senior citizens and the neglected segment of the society. The Central government came up with the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. This Act is being implemented both in letters and spirits in the rest of the country but the State of Jammu & Kashmir is yet to give consent to the blue print focusing on the J&K Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules 2015. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, which was enacted by the Central Government on 29th December 2007, has  provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens, establishment of old age homes, medical care facilities, protection of life and property as well other offences. This Act of 2007 is applicable to whole of India including citizens of India outside India, except the State of J&K. Therefore, there is urgency for the State to have a separate Act to cater to the needs of our elders. The logic behind the urgency of such an Act is common for both J&K State and the rest of the country. Erosion of traditional socio-economic and value system, fast emergence of nuclear/smaller families, speedy migration, consumerism and growing sense of indifference due to attitudinal changes in young generation etc are the reasons behind the need for such laws. The Governments at the Center and State have Constitutional responsibility to make the lives of elders better.

    The Union Government took some appreciable steps in the interest of senior citizens like separate windows for reservation at railway stations, reservation of lower berths for the senior citizens, railway tickets at concessional rates, tax concessions, medical facilities etc to them. The Central Government has also provided separate collection windows in the telecommunication collection centers. RBI too, issued notification to the banks to provide hassle free door-step banking service (DBS) to the senior citizens and also the physically challenged customers. My office is trying its best to make senior citizens to be aware of such services and now intend to approach Banks operating in the State to follow the RBI instructions.

    The of people with disabilities is another concern which direly needs focus by J&K State. Till now very casual approach is adopted but there required a focused approach to understand their sensitivities. Recently, both the houses of parliament passed the Disabilities Bill to secure the rights of disabled and their honor and dignity in consonance with the spirit envisaged by the United Nations. Hope the State will follow these footprints. “Prasaar Bharti' has announced some vacancies for the visually impaired and disabled through “Rozgar Samachar” over Radio, Jammu. The gesture is appreciative.

    As if the destiny had planned for me, my visit to Arai, a village in district Poonch, on 2nd June, 2016 proved an eye opener when found that the physically disabled people are not given proper financial, medical and educational help. Like several other villages, this village too, is not properly connected with rest of the town. Occasional meager amount of Rs.400/- as pension is too low to meet the elementary needs of the disabled person. Certainly, the State of J&K has about 3.7 lac disabled persons for whom very meager service is rendered.

    On 3rd December this year, several people with disabilities came out on the streets of Srinagar to protest against discrimination meted out to them whereas chosen few such organizations observed World Disabilities Day. These celebrations aimed to acknowledge specially-abled people who brought laurels to the country and to boost their morale by imbibing competitive spirit among them.  What our regular teams could not achieve in Rio, Paras from India achieved for the country winning gold and silver medals. Watching Paralympics at Rio was quite amazing experience for me as I, otherwise, lack interest in . Deepa Malik made me feel proud when she bagged silver medal in disc throw event. Devendra Thajhoria won a gold medal in Javelin throw and Mariyappan Thangarelu and Bhati won gold and bronze medals respectively in high jump event.  So, Rio was the shining show of these specially-abled stars. They made it high in the sky.

    Back home, while listening “Jeevan Rekha” a Radio feature broadcast in the morning, from primary service of Jammu Radio, I became curious to meet a young  100% visually impaired girl Azra Qureshi who was being interviewed. Hailing from a remote village in Rajouri, this girl did post graduation in Sociology, cleared her National Eligibility Test (NET) like any other normal student without using Braille language. High in spirits, she is now preparing for civil exams. Strangely, she was not allowed any writer's help for competing State Eligibility Test (SET), though she was eligible to avail that facility and had also paid required fee. Innumerable examples can be found around where such brave-hearts have been fighting for survival competing with those blessed by nature's bounties while, invariably meeting with negative attitudes.

    Three months before, on 1st of October, World Elders Day was observed. On this day the world of elders revealed to the public their inner conflicts with regard to the fast changing attitude of younger generation. Both the elders and persons with disabilities appear like helpless babies abandoned by parents considering them unbearable burden after their intensive use. Materialist and pathetic attitude of the ‘modern' generation has widened the gulf between elders and young where the former as a dejected lot keep on waiting on other shore with open arms. The Government cannot ignore the plight of those from whom we inherited this beautiful world.

    This is the time to intensify social security measures for both the senior citizens and persons with disabilities. This is also the time to shun away inhibitions against them. Further delay in passing of a law for Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens and similar social security initiatives for the persons with disabilities will negate all promises for equitable justice to all the sections of the society which the Constitution of a Welfare State commits. All we require is attitudinal change and a positive mindset towards these special people. Leaving the traditions behind, the society is fast ushering into an era with positive work culture where laws framed ought to be implemented in the best interests of the society over symbolism. Here lies the spirit of e-Governance.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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