Despite the Disability Rights Act 2016 imposing a 4% reservation for Persons with Disabilities (PD) in government jobs, the employment sector in India has virtually no representation from the disabled community. To make matters worse, there has been a consistent pattern of ‘excluding job booking’ in government recruitment for people with disabilities, according to alleged activists.
More than 70% of people with disabilities of working age are unemployed in the country, according to a report by Equiv.in, a recruitment platform that cites government data for the figures. The report adds that only 34 lakh of the roughly 1.34 crore disabled people of working age are employed in India. Additionally, 2011 census data shows that in 35 of the 36 states and union territories, most people with disabilities were not employed. The only exception was Nagaland, where 51.92% of people with disabilities worked.
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The reservation policy is diluted as the central government and state governments have repeatedly exempted jobs from the reservation category. This reduces the very limited number of vacancies for people with disabilities.
Abolition of the reservation for the disabled
In 2021, the Center exempted all categories of positions under the Indian Police Service and the Indian Railways Protection Force, including certain other government services, from the provision of a 4% employment reserve for people with a reference disability. A Gazette notification also exempts the police departments of Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli from the statutory reserve provision.
In addition, in a separate notification in 2021, the government exempted all categories of combatant personnel positions from the central armed police forces such as border security force, central reserve police force, industrial security force Central, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seeria Bal and Assam. Reserve Provisions Rifles. In 2018, the government exempted all categories of combat personnel positions in the armed forces from this provision.
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These exemptions from employment were reported in all categories of posts in the services, including IPS, doctors, etc. Disabilities, says, “We recently wrote to the Department of Family Welfare to point out that several doctor cader positions are not identified for persons with disabilities. For example, the new AIIMs do not identify jobs for the visually impaired in the field of physiatry.
This employment exemption model has drawn strong backlash from disability rights campaigners, who say the measures go against the spirit of the provisions that allow booking under the RPWD Act. . Activists say the lack of a periodic review every three years and few or no attempts to fill positions are the reasons for the minimal participation of people with disabilities in government jobs. They add that many people with disabilities are also excluded from the labor market due to insufficient facilities provided by employers.
No flexibility in employment criteria
Dr Satendra adds that whatever small jobs are then advertised, many are left vacant due to the lack of flexibility in the criteria. This means that if there is a vacancy for a position and the employment criteria allow a person with a disability of one leg to apply, people with a locomotor disability of both legs or one arm or any other disabilities will not be eligible to apply. Activists call this discrimination on the basis of disability.
Monika Dhankhar, 36, who has a locomotor disability in one arm and one leg, has worked as a nurse for the Delhi government for five years. Last year, when she wanted to apply for a position as a nursing tutor at Lady Hardinge Medical College, she found that she could not apply because the criteria for the position was that those who had only one disabled leg could apply.
Following this, Dhankhar filed a complaint with the Court of the Commissioner for People with Disabilities (PwDs), which recently ruled in his favour. “I have been working as a nurse for five years already and the position I applied for is a teaching position and is easier compared to my current position. Yet, I was not allowed to apply for the position. Why?” She adds, “Before even checking our suitability for a position, recruiters assume that a certain job can only be done by a person with a leg disability and not by another person with a disability.”
The court, in its verdict, said the medical school had discriminated against people with disabilities, based on the “one arm and one leg” criterion. The court further instructed the recruiters to remove the advert and re-notify vacancies.
Monika lamented, “This is the case in many vacancies and for every recruitment, people with disabilities have to go the extra mile to challenge the system to get our rights. Often many are unable to defend themselves in court and end up falling out of the workforce and unable to lead independent lives.
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Shameer Rishad, head of the Javed Abidi Foundation (JAF), says:
“Many qualified and qualified PwD candidates do not get jobs because of these very careful rigid criteria. As a result, many disabled positions are left vacant, leading to more unemployment in the community. This requires flexibility in the recruitment criteria. Applicants should be assessed on their skills, not their body parts. This can only be done when employers overcome their prejudice that people with disabilities cannot work. »
Recently, in a written response, Rajya Sabha was informed by the Union Ministry of Education that about 344 positions for the disabled category are vacant in the central universities of India.
In another incident, the Court of the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), in a recent order, recommended the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi to fill vacancies reserved for persons with disabilities , which had been pending for more than 14 years.
Activists demand more seriousness in employing people with disabilities
Demanding annual data on vacancies filed by people with disabilities and a quick review of vacancies, campaigners say that while India has put in place a comprehensive legal framework through the RPDA, however, only token efforts are made to implement them and employ people with disabilities.
Muralidharan, the Secretary General of the National Platform for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (NPRD), says: “Unlike a few years ago, technology has now helped people with disabilities in various ways and empowered them to do no more work. In this context, job offers for PWD should increase, but the reality is contrary to this.
National Center for Employment Promotion of Persons with Disabilities (NCEPEDP) Executive Director Arman Ali says, “With reasonable help and assistive technology, many PwDs can be included in the workforce. For example, over the past two decades, people with disabilities have requested work-from-home facilities, but have been denied multiple reasons. However, the Covid-19 pandemic introduced WFH culture overnight. This is one of many examples that show the government’s lack of interest in involving people with disabilities in the employment sector.
He added that there was also a need for the government to carry out well-thought-out campaigns for the inclusion of people with disabilities and to raise awareness about disabilities.
This story is produced as part of the Laadli Media Fellowship 2022
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