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Symposium on Disability Rights and Equality (SDRE)

The Centre for Disability Law and Advocacy (CDLA), a research and training initiative of the National Law University Odisha (NLUO), Cuttack, in collaboration with Government of Odisha, is pleased to organize the 1st Edition of the Symposium on "Disability Rights and Equality"

Date: 19th April, 2015
Venue: Seminar Hall, National Law University Odisha, Cuttack.

Background Note:
People with disabilities are a part of every society, they are often clustered at the outer margins of any particular category: the poorest of those in economic distress, the most unschooled of the inadequately educated, and the most commonly unemployed. Poor access to justice in terms of its social, economic and political aspects adds more to the plight of this disadvantaged group of persons.

It is notable that over 600 million people, or approximately 10% of the world's population, have disabilities of one kind or another. Estimates of the number of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in India vary depending on the source. In 2007, the World Bank estimated that PWDs constituted 4-8% of the country's population, or about 40-90 million persons. According to the 2011 National Census, which used a different methodology and definition of 'disability', 2.13% of the Indian population (about 22 million persons) had some form of disability.

India has made positive attempts in the past for her international image building on the issue of protecting rights of the disabled community. That is, India was one among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007, signifying its commitment to ensure that PWDs enjoy universal human rights, fundamental freedoms, and equal opportunities to participate in political, economic and cultural life.

But despite the fact that PWDs' constitute a significant proportion of India's population, direct spending by the Government on the disability sector has never exceeded .0009% of the national budget. It is debatable whether India's existing policy framework and limited public investment in resources for PWDs are compatible with the country's rights-based approach to disability, and its stated intention to mainstream PWDs.

Moreover, unfriendly and insensitive environment (physical and attitudinal) and also the prevailing procedures and practices discriminate and prevent persons with disabilities from socializing with family and friends. These factors also prevent the participation and involvement of persons with disabilities especially women, persons with reduced mobility, multiple disabilities, persons with visual, hearing and intellectual impairments in accessing employment, social and regular infrastructural facilities including easy access to public transport and medical services. Above all, it is appalling that we have not even been able to ensure access to legal services and justice to this community which is the responsibility of the State and the Society.

The existing scheme of legal architecture in India falls acutely short of holistic vision of State and its commitment towards uplifting the disabled communities so that they can achieve social, economic and political equality alike everyone else. It is disappointing to note that although the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act has been in effect since 1995, it was only in 2013 that (a) a Supreme Court directive to re-serve 3% government jobs for PWDs was passed and (b) a proposal for a new Draft Bill on Rights for Persons with Disabilities was tabled ("which would replace the 1995 Act and would reserve 5% of all public sector jobs for PWDs).

Numerous other examples demonstrate that there has often been a gap between the substance of Acts, the efficacy of their implementation, and their potential to benefit PWDs. The fragmented nature of Acts has also been criticized. Besides the 1995 Act, there are currently a National Mental Health Act (1987), an Act for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (1999), and components of the Right To Education Act (2009) and the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, each of which targets subgroups among PWDs. Strong arguments have been made for the establishment of a single holistic law for PWDs. Although the Draft Bills for Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2014) represent efforts in this direction, PWDs' rights remain a complex and controversial issue.

Symposium Themes:

  • Disability Rights: Law & Policy in India
  • Social Inclusion of Persons Living With Disability (PLWD)
  • Building Lawyers for PLWD
  • Action Research on Disability Rights & Law

Registration Fee:

  • Rs. 1500/- for Professionals (including social activists, law professors, lawyers etc.).
  • Rs. 500/- for students.

Payment by way of Demand Draft in favour of "Registrar, National Law University Odisha, Cuttack"

Interested students may send their writeup to cdla@nluo.ac.in latest by 11:59 PM on 1st April, 2015.

Contact:
Mr. Nachiketa Mittal
Symposium Convenor
Assistant Professor of Law
Faculty Co-ordinator, Centre for
Disability Law and Advocacy (CDLA)
National Law University Odisha
Phone: +91-7873475690
Email: nachiketa.mittal@nluo.ac.in

Ms. Honey Mariam Jacob
Student Co-ordinator, CDLA
Phone: +91-7894578838

Email: cdla@nluo.ac.in
Website: www.nluo.ac.in

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