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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Voting a challenge for specially-abled : Pune

Despite EC diktat, polling booths have no facilities for sr citizens, physically challenged.

Ninety-six-year-old Dr Leela Gokhale has voted diligently every year since India attained Independence. However, if the Pune District Election department continues its present apathetic attitude towards facilities for senior citizens, Gokhale, despite being fiercely committed to casting her vote, may have to miss out this year. Balkishan Mandir, a school that is the polling booth for citizens living on or near Fergusson College Road, has no convenient ramps for the specially-abled, despite clear instructions from the Election Committee (EC).

Voting a challenge for specially-abled

Balkishan Mandir on Bhandarkar Rd, has only a small, ramp at the back (inset), too difficult for an elderly voter and Dr Leela Gokhale has voted every year since India attained Independence (below)

Gokhale, one of the first trained women gynaecologists in the city, said, "In the last Lok Sabha elections, the polling booth was on the first floor, and I was five years younger. I had managed to climb the stairs with help. This time, I can walk, but climbing stairs is not possible."

Gokhale now walks with the help of a walker, but the four steps leading into the polling booth stand between her and her voting rights.

"I have not missed voting even once. I am alive and I honestly feel I should vote," Gokhale declared. While there is no separate data for the number of senior citizen voters in Pune district, the number of specially-abled people stands at approximately 45,000.

Ramdas Mhatre, a resident of Wanowrie who is 94 per cent physically challenged, said he would visit Mahadaji Shinde school in Wanowrie to check if the polling booth is disability-friendly. "Many booths have no ramps, and dividers and gates also make it difficult for us," he said, adding that he had faced difficulties during the civic elections District Collector Saurabh Rao said that 568 helpers have been deputed for 1,140 polling stations located on the first floor, but that no ramps are available.

When Mirror approached the Balkishan Mandir authorities, they said there was a small, cement ramp leading to a back entrance. However, the ramp was wedged in a narrow space where an elderly person, especially one in a wheelchair, would find it difficult to reach.

Town planner and Gokhale's daughter Anita Gokhale Benninger, said, "We contacted BJP-Sena candidate Anil Shirole's office, but his men simply told us that such facilities are not available. Does this mean my mother will not be able to vote?"

Gokhale added that the EC website mentions that ramps should be provided at each polling station. Ironically, the apathy remains even after the EC wrote to the Commissioner for Persons With Disabilities, Government of India, that barrier-free polling stations would be provided for the specially-challenged. The letter mentioned ramps and safe drinking water.

Vijaya Pawar, Deputy Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Maharashtra, was vague, merely saying, "Polling booth officials must see to it that specially-challenged persons can cast their vote."

Rahul Deshmukh, founder-member of the National Association for the Welfare of Physically Challenged observed that in cases of person suffering from orthopaedic disabilities, wheelchairs needed to be provided at polling booths, while visually impaired voters needed assistants. "Unfortunately, specially-challenged people are not considered a consolidated vote bank, so most political parties ignore their needs," he said.

Dharmendra Satav of Prahar Apang Kranti Dal claimed that 7 to 8 per cent voters are physically or mentally challenged. "Political parties sometimes provide pick-up facilities for these voters, but the party workers often disappear once the voting is over, leaving the voters stranded," he said.

Source : Pune Mirror , 16th April 2014

Intimidation, queues and no toilets put off voters : Mumbai

A first-of-its-kind survey in the country has found that 8% voters in Maharashtra reported coercion and open threats in their localities during earlier elections. Up to 73% voters complained about the total absence of even basic facilities such as drinking water, toilets, shade, separate queues and ramps for seniors and physically challenged individuals, as well as long queues as hurdles to casting their vote. The survey was conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics.

While 26.7% voters said they faced difficulties in their locality during polls, around 8.3% pointed to coercion and threats by booth operators of political parties. Around 15% cited other difficulties that they could not spell out. Thus, an average of 16.6% voters faced "serious difficulties". These have been categorized as vulnerable pockets and are a cause for concern for the election commission.

The survey also revealed that nearly 66.7% voters have issues with 'discouraging' long queues. Around 51.7% said lack of toilets, drinking water and ramps for the elderly and the physically challenged make voting "an unpleasant experience". In cities where several schools and colleges are converted into polling booths, toilets are often shut as managements are wary of the mess.

When the surveyers asked those who had not registered in the first place for reasons, many said they did not even know when and where the ID cards were being made. Around 81% said they were put off by the long procedure at the photo ID card drive. Though around 63% were not aware of the commission's voting campaign, 'Your vote is invaluable, use it wisely' was seen as the most appealing of the commission's messages.

Election commission officials have said they are taking all measures this poll season to avoid such complaints.

Source : TOI , 15th April 2014

Domestic abuse make new mothers mentally unhealthy : New York , U.S

Domestic abuse during pregnancy makes new mothers more vulnerable to mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study has found.

"We found that women who had experienced abuse were more likely to suffer from postpartum mental health problems, and were much more likely to suffer from those problems if the abuse occurred during pregnancy," said Sarah Desmarais, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

"In addition, the more types of abuse they experienced, the more severe the mental health symptoms they reported," Desmarais said.

Specific types of abuse are associated with specific mental health problems, said the study.

The researchers found that psychological abuse - verbal and emotional abuse - was associated with stress and PTSD.

Physical abuse was associated with depression, OCD and PTSD. Sexual abuse was associated with stress, depression and PTSD.

For the study, researchers interviewed 100 women from British Columbia who were largely from higher socioeconomic backgrounds and were not considered at high risk of postpartum mental health problems.

The researchers found that domestic abuse was not limited to families from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

"And this is clearly not a 'lower class' problem - medical professionals everywhere need to pay attention," Desmarais noted.

Source : Business Standard , 15th April 2014

University of Southampton researchers in world first to help ease pain for amputees : U.K

SOUTHAMPTON experts have developed a world first that could ease pain for thousands of amputees and prevent dangerous sores.

Daily Echo: A prosthetic leg

                                         A prosthetic leg


Researchers from the University of Southampton have invented a new pressure sensor which is fitted between the stump and the prosthetic limb to alert the amputee of tissue damage.

This “intelligent” liner for prosthetics will urge the wearer to take action - which could mean putting on an extra sock for padding because the stump can change shape during the day or it could mean a visit to a clinic.

The device could be available to NHS patients in as little as three years and if successful it could be extended for use by others at risk of sores, such as wheel-chair users and those confined to their beds.

The sensors are taped to a cushioned sock which is placed into the prosthetic socket and monitors the pressure and pulling forces between the patient's stump and the socket.

Excess press can cause tissues damage, which can lead to painful sores.

Dr Liudi Jiang, who invented the device with a team from the university, said: “Socket fit is the single biggest factor determining whether prosthesis will be successful for a patient.

“If we had a simple way to accurately measure the load at the socket-stump interface and determine the best possible fit for that limb, it would completely transform the socket fit experience for amputees.

“We're hoping that the development of the intelligent liner will be the first step leading to the 'holy grail' in prosthetics - a fully automatic, self-adjusting smart socket interface for amputees.”

There are 50,000 lower-limb amputees in the UK, most of whom use artificial limbs that are attached to the residual limb through a socket. No two stumps are exactly the same shape and size and even an individual's stump can change shape over the course of a single day.

Professor Dan Bader, an expert in tissue biomechanics who was part of the team, added: “Mechanical forces during physical activities of the amputee can lead to breakdown of soft tissues at the stump, which can prove very difficult to heal and will inevitably result in distress for the patient.”

Source : Southern Daily Echo , 15th April 2014

Brain anatomy differences between deaf, hearing depend on first language learned

In the first known study of its kind, researchers have shown that the language we learn as children affects brain structure, as does hearing status. The findings are reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.


MRI Brain Scan


While research has shown that people who are deaf and hearing differ in brain anatomy, these studies have been limited to studies of individuals who are deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL) from birth. But 95 percent of the deaf population in America is born to hearing parents and use English or another spoken language as their first language, usually through lip-reading. Since both language and audition are housed in nearby locations in the brain, understanding which differences are attributed to hearing and which to language is critical in understanding the mechanisms by which experience shapes the brain.

"What we've learned to date about differences in brain anatomy in hearing and deaf populations hasn't taken into account the diverse language experiences among people who are deaf," says senior author Guinevere Eden, D.Phil., director for the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC).

Eden and her colleagues report on a new structural brain imaging study that shows, in addition to deafness, early language experience – English versus ASL – impacts brain structure. Half of the adult hearing and half of the deaf participants in the study had learned ASL as children from their deaf parents, while the other half had grown up using English with their hearing parents.

"We found that our deaf and hearing participants, irrespective of language experience, differed in the volume of brain white matter in their auditory cortex. But, we also found differences in left hemisphere language areas, and these differences were specific to those whose native language was ASL," Eden explains.

The research team, which includes Daniel S. Koo, PhD, and Carol J. LaSasso, PhD, of Gallaudet University in Washington, say their findings should impact studies of brain differences in deaf and hearing people going forward.

"Prior research studies comparing brain structure in individuals who are deaf and hearing attempted to control for language experience by only focusing on those who grew up using sign language," explains Olumide Olulade, PhD, the study's lead author and post-doctoral fellow at GUMC. "However, restricting the investigation to a small minority of the deaf population means the results can't be applied to all deaf people."

Source : Medical Express , 15th April 2014

Raëll Padamsee’s Create Foundation organised concert for differently-abled children

Raell Padamsee's Create Foundation recently organised a live concert to celebrate Dr Mithu Alur's ADAPT's 41 years. Dr Alur has been striving to bring about 'Inclusion', over the years. This was very well portrayed in the live concert 'It's Magic with 150 children from ADAPT' and several other partner schools of ADAPT such as Army Public School, Beacon High, Guru Harkrishan High School, Kamla High School and Learner's Academy. The musical was to watch out for as able and differently abled children performed beautifully, be it acting or dancing.

Raëll Padamsee’s Create Foundation organised concert for differently-abled children
Children performing at the event.

Dia Mirza, Tanuja, Dolly Thakore, Bakul Patel and Priyanka Thakur were present in the audience and they loved the show. In fact, Tanuja was left speechless with the performances and Dia Mirza said that this spectacular show must not be restricted to just an Annual Day but should be showcased on a larger scale. She also aptly mentioned that important values such as love, togetherness, equality and confidence, which many have forgotten, were so brilliantly brought out by these kids.

Source : TOI , 14th April 2014

School mental health scheme in all Kerala districts


Thalir’ was launched in capital district three years ago



The Health Department has decided to scale up the School Mental Health Programme, currently implemented in Thiruvananthapuram, to all districts from this academic year.

‘Thalir,’ the school mental health project being implemented as part of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) in Thiruvananthapuram for the past three years, has been chosen as the model for replication across the State. The training of personnel to lead the programme in other districts is expected to start this month itself.

The programme is being scaled up across the State utilising a part of the funds — Rs.20 crore — allocated to Kerala by the Union Ministry of Health for the implementation of a Comprehensive Mental Health Programme in the State under the 12th Plan. Each district will be allocated Rs.39 lakh for implementing Thalir, while the rest is to be utilised for mental health rehabilitation projects in districts.

‘Thalir’ is one of the successful targeted intervention programmes launched by the DMHP in the district. It has covered over 22,000 students in 112 schools. The programme aims at the holistic development of schoolchildren by making them aware of the importance of mental health along with physical well-being, offering them counselling, and addressing behavioural issues.

The programme works in coordination with the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health programme and the School Health Programme being implemented in schools by the National Rural Health Mission.

Acting as a link

“We train school counsellors and School Junior Public Health Nurses to be the link between students and teachers and the DMHP unit. Thalir is implemented as a total package for teachers, parents and students,” says P.S. Kiran, nodal officer for DMHP.

Counsellors and teachers receive training from the panel of resource persons of the DMHP on how to identify problems among children and how to respond to these as part of the programme. School counsellors receive continuous training inputs from DMHP team.

Focus areas

‘Thalir’ focusses on addressing behaviour and emotional issues among children, helping them stay away from substance abuse, suicide prevention, stress management, life-skills education, and also managing childhood problems like learning disability and conduct disorder. Students are encouraged to seek help from school counsellors.

As part of scaling up the programme across State, counselling centres will be opened in 1,926 schools this year.

Private schools have not been excluded from the programme, though government schools will have the priority.

K.O. Ratnakaran, Principal of Navodaya Vidyalaya, Vithura, points out that most parents are aware of the psychological stressors that children are up against. Demand for regular school-based counselling has been coming from parents themselves.

“As teachers, we are trained to recognise issues that children may have but as part of Thalir, all of us were given a new perspective into the way children react psychologically to problems. The issues of today’s children certainly require a more sensitive handling,” Dr. Ratnakaran says.

“In the initial year, we had a lot of trouble persuading schools to take up the programme. In the second year, though more schools were willing to try it out, they were not keen on involving teachers and parents. But we do not offer ‘Thalir’ to schools if the teachers or PTAs are not willing to be part of the programme, because parents and teachers play a crucial role in moulding a child’s personality and attitude,” says Dr. Kiran.

Source : The Hindu , 15th April 2014

Ballot paper in Braille to help blind persons cast their vote : Pune

“As far as possible I try not to take anyone’s help while casting my vote,” says 47-year-old Balaji Khot from Nigdi. Totally blind, Balaji travels daily from Nigdi to Pune railway station to sell chikkis for a living.


When contacted, Deputy District Election Officer Apurva Wankhede said that ballot papers in Braille have in fact been printed and given to polling staff at each booth


The 7.8 million blind people in India make up 20 per cent of the world’s 39 million blind population.

“Even if my son accompanies me, I will double check all the names and numbers and then press the button (on the EVM),” says Khot, who feels that every citizen must cast his or her vote.


Manda Bajare, a 46-year-old visually impaired woman from Urali Devachi who sells cutlery at the railway station cannot understand why the authorities cannot make it simpler for blind persons to vote.

“I am totally blind and can read Braille. Why can’t we have Braille-enabled electronic voting machines,” she asks. “It is my vote and I need to know who I have voted for. What If I tell the polling officer at the booth to press the button for a candidate from a particular party and he or she presses the wrong button instead?” she asks.

When contacted, Deputy District Election Officer Apurva Wankhede said that ballot papers in Braille have in fact been printed and given to polling staff at each booth.

“They will be able to read the names of candidates and numbers printed against them, the party symbols. They can read the ballot paper in Braille and then cast their vote by pressing the button,” Wankhede said. She added that special facilities, including ramps and helpers, have been provided for physically challenged persons as well.

N P Pandya, President of the Poona Blind Men’s Association (PBMA) said he had not missed a single election, and had cast his vote, albeit with the help of another person. “However, visually impaired persons should be able to exercise their franchise independently and fearlessly,” Pandya said, adding that ballot papers in Braille would be of immense help for first time voters.

The 7.8 million blind people in India make up 20 per cent of the world’s 39 million blind population. 

Source : Indian Express , 15th April 2014

Deaf and mute student found dead in school : Chandrapur , Nagpur

A Class VIII student of a local residential school for deaf and mute in Babupeth was found hanging from the roof of an open shed on the school premises under mysterious circumstances late on Sunday night.

Parents of the victim Tirupati Dudhbale (17) have, however, charged an unidentified night shift staffer in the school with choking their son to death and then setting up a scene of suicide.

The incident came to light late when school staffers took an unconscious Tirupati to the civil hospital claiming that he hanged himself. Doctors declared Tirupati brought dead and reported the matter to the police. Tension prevailed on the school premises on Monday morning when Tirupati's parents came charging the school staffer with thrashing and murdering their son.

According to the police, students of the school were retired to their hostel rooms after dinner on Monday. Tirupati slipped out of bed and hanged himself using towels in the open shed. Staffers of the school later found him hanging and rushed him to hospital.

"It was school staffers who brought down the boy and rushed him to hospital assuming him to be alive. As the body was removed from the crime scene, cops were unable to conduct the inquest. Hence it is difficult to predict whether it is suicide or a murder without the post mortem report," said SDPO Raju Bhujbal.

Tirupati's parents, who hail from village Itoli in Ballarpur tehsil, have claimed that their son had told them through sign language that a staffer in the school often beat him up severely for minor mistakes. The same staffer thrashed him seriously after the dinner on Sunday and then choked him to death, they alleged. Some of the students from the school have reportedly corroborated these allegations.

Bhujbal ratified that Tirupati's parents have alleged sabotage. "It is difficult to communicate with deaf and mute students. Still we are speaking to them with the help of translators. However, further course of action will depend on the post mortem report," he said.

Preliminary post mortem report is expected to come later in the night, he said. The city police have registered a case and further investigations are underway.

Source : TOI , 15th April 2014

Monday, 14 April 2014

The invisible voter

The 16th Lok Sabha polls, one of the largest democratic elections in the world, are in full swing. When millions of Indians vote in the coming days, their ink-stained fingers marking another important moment in our democracy, we need to ask whether all citizens have been able to participate in these elections.

We need to consider alternatives such as the option of casting votes through mobiles and the provision of transportation.

We need to consider alternatives such as the option of casting votes through mobiles and the provision of transportation.


Electoral process must be completely accessible for persons with disabilities.


Voters with disabilities have been an invisible minority to the Election Commission, political parties and the public in general. In 2004, the Supreme Court, in Disabled Rights Group vs The Chief Election Commissioner and Anr, laid down specific directions for the EC to implement at the time of voting. These directions were basic — ramps at all voting sites, tactile and Braille buttons on EVMs and allowing voters to take companions for assistance when they cast their ballot. The EC wasted no time in sending these directions to all its state election commissioners, but the actual level of accessibility and voting in those elections did not dramatically improve.

Now, 10 years later, we are at the same crossroads. In a recent audit of polling sites in Bangalore, it was found that most of the 7,700 sites were not accessible for voters with physical and locomotor disabilities. If we want to take voting rights seriously and ensure that our Constitution guarantees this right for every single person, we cannot ignore voters with disabilities. I make three arguments here.

First, electoral participation for voters with disabilities is not only about voting. Free and fair electoral participation means access to electoral awareness programmes and campaigns of the candidates and political parties, making campaign materials and speeches accessible. The websites of the EC, political parties and candidates should also be accessible. The SC has held that the right to know the background of a candidate is a fundamental right of a voter, so that she can make a rational decision while exercising the statutory right to vote. Thus, electors with disabilities have a fundamental right to get information about the backgrounds of candidates and parties in a format that is accessible. Unless such materials are available, a person will not be able to exercise her right to vote. The right to vote also begins with being able to register as a voter. The low number of voter registrations among people with disabilities is because most do not know how to get themselves registered as voters, do not get information about it, and voter registration sites are not physically accessible.

Second, the actual process of voting must be made smoother. The EC’s measures to enable voting have been limited to building ramps at polling sites. These are important, and it is evident that even this simple measure is not fully complied with. However, we need to move beyond these basic measures and consider alternatives such as the option of casting votes through mobiles for those with severe disabilities or in care homes, posting disabled election officers at each polling station and the provision of transportation for voters who require assistance in travelling to voting sites.

The most problematic measure taken by the EC is to permit assistance by allowing a companion during the voting process. This is based on the outdated Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, which permits “a companion to accompany a blind/ infirm elector to assist him/ her to cast the vote”. The presence of another person in the voting booth, even if it is a friend or family member, opens the door to questions of influence, intimidation and coercion. The right to vote includes the right to vote independently and in secrecy. Allowing disabled voters to take in companions, ostensibly to assist them, takes away this basic right. Instead, the EC needs to make the voting process fully accessible so that assistance of a companion person is not required.

Finally, there is a need to develop election monitoring methods in order to collect data, surveys and studies to understand the involvement of persons with disabilities across the nation. This should include pre-election, election-day and post-election observation.

It is not too late to implement some of these measures for election day. For millions of our voters, getting to the voting booth is a mountainous struggle and the act of voting is ridden with barriers, both physical and attitudinal. Let us use these elections to remove some of these barriers.

The writer is with the Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore

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Source : The Indian Express , 14th April 2014

Wheelchair tennis player Madhu Bagri's graph goes up : Ahemedabad

It was only in November last year that Ahmedabad's wheelchair tennis player Madhu Bagri debuted in the national circuit and went on to win the third National Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Championship in Bangalore.

Playing three back-to-back tournaments in Sri Lanka in March this year, the polio-stricken player has made steady progress as she entered the semifinals of two events. In the third, a round-robin event, Madhu won one and lost two games. Her outings in the Emerald Island, however, helped her get onboard international rankings.

In the Sri Lankan Open, Madhu went past local girl Umesha Alahakoom 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to make it to her maiden semifinals. However, she lost to world no. 40 Thondalwethu Hlatswayo of South Africa 6-0, 6-1. That semis appearance gave her the first international ranking of 138.

Next up for the 39-year-old was SSC Open where she went down to Sarah Calati of Australia, the eventual winner of the tournament, 6-0, 6-1 in the semis.

The last meet was Negombo Open, where she lost to Thondalwethu (6-0, 6-0) and Anosha Amaratunge of Sri Lanka (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) before managing a solitary win against Umesha 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3.

After the three meets, she is now 116th in the world rankings and remains the solo Indian in the long list comprising over 250 players.

Delighted with her performance, Madhu is confident that more international tournaments will take her closer to her immediate target of getting inside the top 100. "The Aussies and South Africans play around 15 events a year compared to three to five for me. More exposure will ensure better ranking in the coming days," she said.

The upward graph in Madhu's international rankings has put a wide smile on her coach Pramesh Modi's face. Modi, who has been training her since May 2013, said it was a remarkable achievement especially for a women wheelchair tennis player who gets little support in this country.

"All these tournaments will help her go a long way. If she works harder and plays smarter tennis with better wheelchair movement during the game, she can keep improving her rankings," said Modi.

Source : TOI ,  14th April 2014

Hi-tech help for blind pupils

The 15-year-old transferred from the Pioneer School for the Blind, in Worcester, to Swartland High School, a public school in Malmesbury, in the Boland, early this year.

"This machine is very helpful. It also has a scientific calculator so that I can do maths," said Durr.


The Western Cape Education Department gave him an eBraille Note Apex computer, which enables him to read textbooks in Braille. The portable computer helps him to read electronic text using an electro-mechanical display that raises dots on a flat surface.


Visually impaired Western Cape schoolboy Pieter-Jans Durr is testimony to the ability of technology to bridge the gap between the academic performance of blind people and that of sighted pupils.


He is also able to listen to text through computer-generated speech, browse the internet with Wi-Fi and use Bluetooth to connect with other devices.

"This machine is very helpful. It also has a scientific calculator so that I can do maths," said Durr.

"I like to call myself the gate opener because I am the first guy going through all this stuff with this new technology. I am leading the way for other kids with eye problems," he said.

Bronagh Casey, spokesman for education MEC Donald Grant, said the department had arranged training for Durr's teachers.

"They monitor his writing on a computer that presents his work in normal text. They can also print out his assignments in standard text," said Casey.

Durr and his two older sisters were born with tunnel vision, a condition in which peripheral vision is greatly restricted.

Their mother, Mari Durr, said: "I have three partially sighted children and I have always said to them: 'I want to give you an eagle's wings so that you can flourish'.

"Other people with children who can't see should support them - have empathy for them, not sympathy," she said.

Durr wants a career in music and drama.

The provincial education department has spent more than R1-million on computers for blind pupils this year.

The Pioneer School for the Blind received five machines and Athlone School for the Blind, in Bellville, got 10.

Source : Times Live , 14th April 2014

Blind to the Barriers : Bhubaneshwar

Educational institutions need to open their eyes to the world of the disabled and make that much-needed effort to be inclusive, something they are utterly lacking in now Reservations under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, and claims of barrier free campus in colleges and universities, notwithstanding, higher education still is a difficult proposition for differently-abled students of Odisha. The situation is not much different even in cities like Chennai and Hyderabad of states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which sees more development than Odisha.

IIT-Madras is disabled-friendly in many ways. There are ramps in most buildings, apart from software to assist the visually-impaired with reading

IT-Madras is disabled-friendly in many ways. There are ramps in most buildings, apart from software to assist the visually-impaired with reading.

Buildings of the College of Engineering Guindy, a constituent of Anna University, are old and inaccessible to differently-abled students
Buildings of the College of Engineering Guindy, a constituent of Anna University, are old and inaccessible to differently-abled students

Odisha has 1400-odd plus two colleges, 702 degree colleges and eight universities, but none of these are barrier-free. A deep rooted apathy exists towards providing special facilities to students with disabilities in universities and colleges.

As Manjulata Panda, a visually-impaired student of Utkal University who is doing her PhD in Political Science, points out, “Even in some comparatively new buildings within the university, there are no special facilities to cater to our needs. The huge university campus should also provide tactile markers so that the visually challenged persons can be guided through. Signage and toilets for physically challenged people also need to be worked out.”

Time and again, students like Manjulata have alleged that a large part of their college and university campuses continue to be inaccessible even as voices for ‘inclusive education’ and ‘mainstreaming’ have been getting stronger in recent times. Though some of the premier colleges in Odisha have ramps and Braille text books, there are several gaps that need to be plugged.

Apparently, although there is one college for hearing-impaired students of Odisha, namely Satyabhama Devi College for Hearing Impaired in Bhubaneswar, there is no such college for blind students.

The Department of Higher Education (DHE), Government of Odisha, has time and again given directions for accessible libraries and laboratories and disabled friendly study materials, audio visual aids and computers with JAWS (Job Access with Speech) software for the visually impaired, which reads out text on the computer screen, but rarely any of the orders are implemented. There is a wide gap in policy formulation and implementation.

Although higher education institutions should have equal opportunity cells, as mandated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to look into problems faced by disabled students, many of them are non-functional. Two of the most prominent colleges in Odisha enrolling the maximum number of students are BJB Autonomous College and RD Women’s College. While RD Women’s College does not have an equal opportunity cell, the one at BJB Autonomous College has been defunct for a long time now.

At the 2009 Chancellor's Conference on Higher Education, then Chancellor of Odisha Universities MC Bhandare had advocated for installation of special screen reading software in all colleges and universities for the benefit of students who are visually impaired. This is yet to be implemented.

Disability activists say that currently most colleges even in the state capital of Bhubaneswar does not have sufficient Braille books in their libraries, hostel facilities, modern assistive technology and facilities for participation in college sports and games for this category of students. Students with disabilities already face daily difficulties like travel to college/university, as private buses do not respect the disability concessions that are to be provided. What’s more the disabled students are eligible for exemptions in admission and examination fee, as directed by DHE, but even that is not being implemented across all colleges and universities.

Students with disability also rue the fact that they are not supported with special coaching centres on the lines of those provided for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students.

Requirement of scribes

Apathy of authorities is evident in the fact that even small measures, like providing scribes, are not taken. Colleges are supposed to provide scribes to help students with disabilities, who are unable to write their answers. But in many cases, scribes are given to them by the Department of Higher Education only at the last minute. As a result, students do not get enough time to acclimatise with their scribes and this affects their prospects of faring well in the examinations. While this is the case in cities like Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the situation is grimmer in district headquarters towns and other semi-urban areas.

Sanyas Behera, former secretary of Odisha Association for Blind (OAB) and a disability rights activist, said the biggest problem today as far as scribes are concerned is that the universities are yet to adopt the scribe policy under the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities that was framed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Except for the Ravenshaw University at Cuttack, none of the Government-funded universities in Odisha have an independent scribe policy. Though there is also a provision of additional 30 minutes of writing time for disabled students under the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, this is being denied on the ground of insufficient staff and non-availability of invigilators beyond a stipulated time.

Besides, the State Government pays a paltry amount to these scribes, which does not serve as incentive enough for them to take up the roles and write for disabled students. At present, the Government pays `15 for a single sitting at the Plus Two level. So, if the examination consists of five sittings, a scribe is eligible to get `75. At the Plus Three level, there is no provision of even the meagre incentive. The UGC, however, pays `1,000 per sitting to the scribes.

Attitudinal Problems

Many a times, managements and faculty are not cooperative when it comes to following the guidelines to support students with disability, as it affects their convenience. In a study conducted last year by Swabhiman, a leading voluntary organisation working for the causes of the disabled in Odisha, with support of Women & Child Development Department, Government of Odisha, it was found that a large number of students do not enjoy their time in college. The total number of students participating in the study was 585 and it was found that as against 35.7 per cent (pc) who enjoy going to college, 64.3 pc do not enjoy attending college, as their basic requirements are not being met.

Colleges do not have disabled-friendly toilets or accessible drinking water taps, despite these being violations of the PWD Act, 1995. When asked, 37.5 pc of the students said they required physical access to the building and transport and 26.4 pc required Braille materials. Besides, 9.2 pc wanted large print question papers, 4.3 pc sought audio materials and 15.6 pc asked for printed class notes. The rest 7 pc wanted accessible laboratories, personalised teaching, more attention from teachers, extra practical training hours and coaching for entrance examinations.

Only 12.5 pc of the students received the educational aid that they are entitled to from colleges. While 61.7 pc said they had not been given the fee exemptions, 25.8 pc said they were unaware of the fact that their college should provide them educational support. Only 9 pc of students receive educational scholarships, 34 pc do not get any such benefit.

“Disability is a huge area. Just creating a few ramps does not ensure accessibility. There has to be an elevator, a disabled-friendly toilet and a library with Braille books and advanced software for students with disabilities,” said Sruti Mohapatra, disability rights activist, who conducted the study.

A student, who has a disability that affects her mobility, joined BCom in a reputed Bhubaneswar-based college last year, which refused to shift her classes from the second floor to the ground floor. The reason cited by the college authorities was that the teachers were finding it difficult to move between floors due to the lack of a lift facility. The student prefers to remain anonymous.

In Hyderabad too, the situation begs improvement. VC Veera Raghav, Hyderabad chapter president, National Federation for Blind, says, “The situation of blind hostels in the city is pathetic. There are six blind hostels here. Four of them are being operated in rented buildings, and those buildings do not have ramp-facilities. This is resulting in serious injuries to the blind students. Despite making numerous requests to the authorities, nothing has changed.”

In Chennai, even umbrella institutions like Anna University and The University of Madras had hardly any ramps in the common areas — canteens, classes, etc. Reasons cited are that these institutes have decades-old buildings, and it is difficult to alter them to make them barrier-free.

Disability Studies Centres

Despite a plethora of studies being carried out, the area of disability studies still remains unexplored in Odisha. It is ignored in the curricula of universities and colleges. Apparently, none of the higher education institutions in Odisha have departments or centres for disability studies for promoting academic activities on disability related issues.

Such centres are crucial for teaching specially designed programmes to develop human resources in the field of disability. “As a result, talented students who want to opt for academic, research-oriented and professional careers in disability studies have to go outside the State to do so. This is the reason we do not have sufficient number of faculty members who are trained in disability studies here,” said Kasturi Mohapatra, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

In fact, none of the government colleges have special educators to take charge of disabled students.
Sanyas added there is no point providing mere access to educational institutions. “The most important is having teachers specialised for the job. A minimum of two pc of teachers in educational institutions should be specialised in dealing with students with disabilities,” he said.

UGC schemes unutilised

The UGC had started a scheme of assistance to universities/colleges to facilitate Teacher Preparation in Special Education (TEPSE) and Higher Education for Persons with Special Needs (Differently-abled Persons) (HEPSN) during the Ninth Five-Year Plan, keeping in view the need to provide special education programmes as well as infrastructure to differently-abled persons. The panel had stated that infrastructure needs to be designed in a manner to enable them easy access classrooms, laboratories, toilets, etc.

But findings of the Swabhiman field study entitled, ‘A profile of Disability in Odisha — Trends, Development and Dynamics’ put forth some disturbing facts. According to the report, no university has applied for HEPSN and TEPSE funds from the UGC, except Utkal University. Utkal availed `8,78,000 for the HEPSN programme.

University Vice-Chancellor PK Sahoo said with this fund, two rooms with one attached toilet was constructed to run the HEPSN programme in the Psychology Department. Named Samarthya, the building houses three computer systems to help visually impaired students. Besides, ramps with side support railings have also been constructed to provide access to the library, hospital, main office and departments on the university premises.

At North Odisha University, the authorities have requested private agencies to provide access to facilities for differently-abled students and has also spent funds on procuring special learning and assessment devices in 2010-11.

Spending on Infrastructure

Except for Ravenshaw and Utkal University, none of the Government-run universities have taken any major steps to make their campuses disabled-friendly. Ravenshaw which has already constructed ramps, disabled-friendly toilets and elevators, will soon get a Braille printing press on its campus to address the problem of shortage of textbooks for blind students. As part of its ongoing measures for a disabled-friendly campus, it has installed Dux Berry, the latest software that can convert written text into audio format, at the library at a cost of `4 lakh. The Braille printing unit would cost `50 lakh, said Priyabrat Majhi, co-ordinator of the equal opportunity cell at Ravenshaw University.

DHE’s initiative

Meanwhile, the DHE has finally decided to make colleges and universities inclusive, at a recent meeting. The move has been long overdue and the department is now looking at translating its intention towards the differently-abled from paper to reality. It has directed the Vice-Chancellors of all the State-Government funded universities and regional directors of education to make classrooms in colleges and universities accessible to students with disabilities with immediate effect. Accordingly, a directive on accessible classrooms in all colleges and universities, disabled friendly reading materials in libraries and audio visual equipment and computers with JAWS software for the blind, has been sent to VCs, regional directors of education and chairman of CHSE, informed Gagan Dhal, Secretary, Higher Education Department.

These facilities will be made available to blind students who use Braille for studies, hearing and speech impaired students and orthopaedic impaired students with disability of more than 75 per cent with immediate effect. The cost of the infrastructure changes and upgradation would be borne by the institutions and no Government help would be provided.

K Sarada Devi, Director of the Disabled Welfare and Senior Citizens, Government of Andhra Pradesh, says, “For providing a barrier-free environment, the State Government is inviting requests from the educational institutions for installing lifts, ramps and for designing specialised wash-rooms for the disabled. After receiving the requests, we forward them to the Central Government to get the grants under the scheme titled Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disables (SIPDA). Based on recommendations from Osmania University, we have installed lifts in its premises recently. It is the responsibility of the particular organisation to communicate the grievances of their disabled-students to get the facilities. However, not many are approaching us.”

Dr S Rajendran, professor of pathology, Sri Ramachandra University,  where students with mobility issues are assisted with ramps and elevators and other measures, says, “Some areas in general that require improvements are not on campus, but in the city at large. Travelling in buses is difficult with no kneeling system, and no assigned car parking spaces are provided in offices or colleges. Our pavements and roads are not at all disabled-friendly. We also need to generate more jobs for the disabled. But compared to the scenario 10 years ago, I think we have moved forward.”

However, there are some examples of best practices in the city too. IIT-Madras, Stella Maris College for Women and Sri Ramachandra University fall in this category. LS Ganesh, dean of students,  IIT-Madras, says, “We have to look at the efforts from two angles, learning needs and mobility and living needs. There is a range of disabilities and we have tried to address most of them, especially those with respect to mobility. It’s important to keep the dignity of disabled students intact while we provide them support mechanisms.”

He elaborates that vision-impaired students are given support in the form of reading software, like JAWS, and scribes for examinations. “For those who have mobility issues, we have a Student Welfare Fund that we tap into to fund battery-operated scooters (around `55,000) and motorised wheelchairs that can help them get around the campus. All the buildings are disabled-friendly — from ramps to lifts installed in all buildings to special rooms on the ground floors of hostels with separate bathrooms,” he adds.

IIT-M is also known to encourage disabled students to take part in sports. The institute’s aquatics zone is a prime example of this inclusive mentality, where they have a ramp built into the swimming pool. IIT-M also hosted the Indo-Pakistan bilateral Blind Cricket Series, where players used cricket balls that made sounds.

At Stella Maris College, Chennai, they have installed ramps for most buildings and lifts are also available. They have installed software like JAWS, Super Nova Access Suite Version 13.03 — Dolphin and Openbook software for visually challenges girls to read. Student volunteers help out these students during internals and scribes are brought in for the main exams.

“The Students Union of the academic year 2013-14 had adopted the theme, ‘Sensitivity towards the differently-abled’ and have formed the Best Buddy system to help out their friends and worked on workshops to sensitise those on campus. Tuition and hostel fee waivers are also offered to some students,” says D Thilagavathi Joseph, Dean of Students, Stella Maris College.

Giving a thumbs-up to these practices, activists say that beyond disabled-friendly facilities or software, support from regular students and faculty is important, as their attitude towards this section of students is vital.

By Diana Sahu
E-mail :
(With inputs from Preethi Ann Thomas in Chennai and Vikram Mukka in Hyderabad)

Source : The New Indian Express , 14th April 2014

Mr & Mrs Rio’s gift to physically challenged brothers

Lower Chandmari colony, Kohima residents and physically challenged brothers Sunep and Meren finally got a new home. Thanks to Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and his family members who constructed the house for the two brothers and their family.

(3rd from left) Kaisa Rio, Dr. Nicky, Meren and Sunep and their mother, sister and others at their new home, Kohima. 


Rio and his wife Kaisa Rio along with other colleagues visited Sunep and Meren’s home November last and decided to built a home for the two physically challenged brothers. A dedicatory prayer function was held Sunday at the new home of the duo in the presence of Kaisa Rio accompanied by parliamentary secretary law and justice, land revenue and labor employment Dr. Nicky Kire and his wife and others.

During the brief function, Kaisa Rio expressed gratitude to all the people who were responsible for constructing the home including Longmisa villagers, colony citizens and others. She also acknowledged Dr. Nicky who was a regular visitor of the family and said the house could be constructed due to his initiative.

Dr. Nicky thanked the chief minister and his family members for their generosity and lauded Longmisa village members of Kohima for their contribution. Representatives of Ao Union Kohima, Kohima Longmisa Senso Telongjem and Lower Chandmari Panchayat also lauded the the chief minister and Dr. Nicky.

Mother of Meren and Sunep, Tushila Jamir while expressing gratitude to the chief minister and his family members said it was a dream comes true for her family.

Meren also thanked chief minister and Dr. Nicky and others for gifting them a home.

The programme was chaired by KLST president K. Wati while lecturer CFN Bible college lecturer Repameren proposed the invocation prayer.

KLST general secretary also presented gifts to all the dignitaries. Representatives of KLST, Lower Chandmari Panchayat, former DGP, K. Kire, government department officials, family members of Dr Nicky and others also attended the dedicatory function.

Source : Nagaland Post , 13th April 2014

Private sector urged to go beyond one-off efforts in CSR activities for the disabled : Kuala Lumpur

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities conducted by the private sector for people with disabilities should go further than just one-off donations, and be extended to providing fair employment to them, said Senator Bathmavathi Krishnan .

"CSR should not be a one-off event or a one-off action. It should be a commitment where you offer sustainable opportunities. You help a person become economically independent by offering a job, or you could help them renovate their house to be more accessible," said Bathmavathi.

Bathmavathi, who is also the Malaysian Confederation for the Disabled secretary, was commenting on the current CSR habits of Malaysia's private sector.

"When companies say they have community service efforts, they usually do this during festive seasons such as donations to disability organisations and inviting people with disabilities to parties and feasts - and that they call CSR, as part of their corporate social responsibility. They have to go beyond that," she said.
Bathmavathi, who spoke to The Star Online after delivering the opening speech at the launch of the Hiruscar Beautiful campaign here recently, pointed out that the right to equal employment was laid down in Section 29 of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008.

Section 29(1) of the Act reads: "Persons with disabilities shall have the right to access to employment on equal basis with persons without disabilities."

Additionally, Bathmavathi pointed out that Section 29(3) of the Act touched on the "social obligation" of employers - both in the public and private sector.

Section 29(3) reads that "employers, shall in performing their social obligation endeavour to promote stable employment for people with disabilities by properly evaluating their abilities, providing suitable places of employment and conducting proper employment management."

However, Bathmavathi pointed out that employers often took the easy way out by not employing those with disabilities as the Act lacked any means of punishment for breaching its provisions.

"There is no penalty if they discriminate against people with disabilities by refusing to hire them. If they do that, they are not treating them as equal citizens under Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution," she said.
Under Article 8(1), all persons are equal under the law and are entitled to the full protection of the law.
Bathmavathi also explained what she meant in her speech about the "attitudinal barrier" faced by persons with disabilities in Malaysian society, saying that the barrier occurred when the private sector denies them jobs by not making themselves aware of the provisions of the Act.

"Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to the workplace such as ramps for wheelchair users, accessible lifts and furniture. However, I have heard from persons with disabilities they were not hired despite having the qualifications under the reasoning that the workplace is not accessible," she said.

She cited a company in Kedah that found its productivity increasing after hiring deaf employees.

"The company had fewer issues with work ethics, such as attendance problems after hiring them," said Bathmavathi.

In her speech, Bathmavathi said there were those in society, especially those with physical impairments and specific conditions who faced challenges as a result of living in a society that did not cater to all the needs of PWDs.

"As a result we face exclusion from mainstream society. Among the physical, environmental, and social barriers it is the social barrier, particularly the attitudinal barrier that poses the greatest obstacle to an inclusive society," she said in her speech.

She praised some CSR efforts such as the Hiruscar Beautiful campaign, which saw three people, namely motivational speaker Jenny Pong Seow Chin, 48, Dr Ahmad Anas Abdul Majid, 26, and psychology student Keisha Petrus, 24, receiving the Hiruscar Beautiful Award.

"I applaud this CSR initiative by DKSH and Medinova, because it is a novel idea towards creating an inclusive society where everyone is accepted. It allows people to share their experiences living with scars, that has made them stronger today," said Bathmavathi.

Meanwhile, in response, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said hiring of people with disabilities was not a CSR activity.

Instead, he said they should be part-and-parcel of the normal hiring activities of a company.

"I don't consider it a CSR matter, as employers should always give employment to people with disabilities," said Shamsuddin.

He added that all disabled people who met the employment prerequisites of a company should be hired and not discriminated against.

"We ought to give them the same opportunities as able-bodied people. When we look into disable persons, we have to look into their abilities and the suitability of these people for the work they applying to do," said Shamsuddin, he said Monday.

"They should be considered as part of human resources and a contributor to the company's growth," said Shamsuddin.

Source : The Star Online , 14th April 2014

Elderlies, disabled demand ramps and wheelchair at polling centres : KANPUR

Elderly citizens and people with physical disability, who are unable to reach the polling centres due to health reasons, have demanded Election Commission of India to provide wheelchair, ramps or make other arrangements for them so that they can cast their vote. The Kanpur Nagar seat will go for Lok Sabha polls on April 30.

Rastriya Viklang Party and several other senior citizen groups, fighting for the rights of the differently-abled and elderlies, took to the streets to voice their opinion about right to vote.

Alpana Kumari (35), of Ambedkar Nagar Kakadeo, who suffers physical disability, has to face difficulty for arranging a wheel-chair at the time of every election. "It is a very frustrating moment when I have to take help of my family members to cover the distance from the polling station gate to the enclosure where electronic voting machines (EVMs) are placed. Again, I have made an appeal to the authorities to arrange for a wheel-chair so that I can exercise my franchise on the election day without any problem. Election Commission needs to get more sensitive towards disabled," she said.

Voicing his concern, physically disabled Jauhar Ali, a resident of Shastrinagar, said that arrangements for the disabled are mandatory following the Supreme Court's direction to provide special facilities for the disabled during the polls.

"In the last assembly elections, I came across ramps that too only at a few polling booths in my area. This was not enough and it points to gross negligence of people with disability despite Supreme Court's directives," he said.

This Lok Sabha election, however, Jauhar has decided to fight for the cause of such voters. "I have written to the chief election commissioner, demanding a wheelchair and construction of ramps at each polling station so that persons like me can cast their vote," he added.

Virendra Kumar general secretary of the Rastriya Viklang Party said that several physically disabled had faced similar problems when they went to vote at their respective polling stations during last assembly elections. "However, we got reports that the administration, this time has built ramps at polling stations located inside government institutions. There are many polling booths, particularly situated inside private institutions, which still lack such ramps," he said.

He further added that previously ramps were provided only in urban areas while rural areas were completely ignored. "There were reports that many disabled persons who had gone to vote in Ghatampur area had to wait for long due to huge crowd."

However, as per the district election authorities, arrangements for physically disabled and senior citizens are likely to be in effect around the district this elections. Ramps have been introduced at almost all the polling stations to aid the disabled voter, said district returning officer Roshan Jacob. "Unlike the previous elections, this time we want to address maximum problems and short comings confronted by the disabled while casting their vote. We have constructed ramps at almost all polling stations for senior citizens and disabled to ensure that voting for them is a smooth affair," Jacob told Times Of India.

Source : TOI , 14th April 2014

Sunday, 13 April 2014

13-yr-old girl with special needs chained by family for three years : Ludhiana

Despite the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) providing support to children with special needs under its Integrated Education for the Disabled scheme, a 13-year-old daughter of a labourer couple has been bereft of the facility.

Unable to get Sumanpreet Kaur's mental disorder diagnosed or treated, her parents, residents of Jodhan village, have chained their daughter to 'manage' her seizures for the past three years.

SSA ensures that every child with special needs, irrespective of the kind, category and degree of disability, is provided meaningful and quality education for at least up to Class 8. With the Constitution making elementary education a fundamental right of every child, no child with special needs can be deprived of the right to education.
However, Sumanpreet has been deprived of the provisions under the Right to Education Act.

Her father, Raj Kumar, said he and his wife were labourers, and they toiled hard to earn two square meals for their family of seven, and therefore, had no money to spare for Sumanpreet's treatment.
"I know that there are several schemes available for children with special needs. But, despite running from pillar to post, no official has paid head to my pleas requesting diagnosis and treatment for my daughter," the father rued.

He said they discovered that Sumanpreet had a mental disorder when she suffered a seizure at the age of four. In absence of management of her disorder, her condition had deteriorated and she now suffered frequent seizures.

While her parents go for work, it is her grandmother Amarjit Kaur, besides two sisters, who take care of her.
Amarjit said they had been chaining Sumanpreet with a bedstead for the past three years, as she used to flee from the house and hurt herself and people of village, besides vandalising their belongings.

She said as Sumanpreet inflicted self injury, they had to keep an eye on her all the time.

Raj Kumar appealed to people to help the family for his daughter's treatment. Persons willing to help can contact this correspondent at 9872-900-220.

Source : Hindustan Times , 13th April 2014

Visually impaired voters get familiarised with EVMs in Thanjavur : Tamil Nadu

Those who do not know Braille can take an assistant along with them

MAKING THEMSELVES COUNT: Visually-impaired schoolteachers working with the government school learn how to vote through the electronic voting machines in Thanjavur on Friday. Photo: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

MAKING THEMSELVES COUNT: Visually-impaired school teachers working with the government school learn how to vote through the electronic voting machines in Thanjavur on Friday


Electronic Voting Machines were demonstrated to blind persons at the Government School for the Blind near the bridge here on Friday.

Blind persons in large numbers came and took part in the demonstration and learnt how to vote.

Explaining the process N. Subbaiyan, Collector and Returning Officer for Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency, said Braille sticker would be there on the right side of the EVMs. Blind persons could get the

Braille candidates list from polling officers and know for themselves which number represented which candidate.

After pressing the Braille sticker, they could vote the number they wanted. Blind persons who did not know the Braille method could take an assistant along with him to vote.

The Collector said that 3,120 EVMs would be used in the six Assembly segments in Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency. 

Source : The Hindu , 12th April 2014

India open Blind Cricket series with big win

Centuries by Prakash Jayaramaiah and Shekar Naik coupled with a disciplined bowling performance handed India a comfortable 129-run victory over Australia after they had put up 291 for 4 in the first Twenty20 match of the Blind cricket series at the KSCA Cricket grounds in Alur on Sunday (April 13).

Centuries from Prakash Jayaramaiah and Shekar Naik helped India beat Australia by 129 runs. © Wisden India

Centuries from Prakash Jayaramaiah and Shekar Naik helped India beat Australia by 129 runs.


The duo’s double-century stand was the highlight of the day, and ensured that Australia’s 162 for 5 fell well short.

Australia’s bowlers had made a good start with India losing Ajay Reddy and Ketan Patel early after opting to bat. However, that brought Jayaramaiah and Naik, the captain, together and the duo put on 217 runs for the third wicket in just 83 balls to power India forward.

Jayaramaiah scored the bulk of his runs in boundaries, smashing 30 fours in his 47-ball knock of 132, before retiring out with a hamstring injury in the 15th over. Jayaramaiah’s knock was marked by his ability to soak pressure, not getting bogged down by the early loss of wickets. Naik was an able ally, with a 63-ball 131, and was chiefly responsible for keeping the momentum going towards the end of India’s innings. Naik and Amol Karche amassed 41 runs off the final three overs to take India to a formidable score.

Chasing a steep target, Australia faced an early blow with Mark Haskett, the opener, stumped in the second over.

Michael Zennis (50 off 33) tried to repair the damage with a steady half-century before falling inches short of his crease as Jayaramaiah, the wicketkeeper, ran him out.

The Australian innings failed to recover thereafter, as the Indians put a check on the scoring with some disciplined bowling, taking the required run-rate beyond Australia’s reach.

Matt McCarthy, the Australia captain, added 20 quick runs with Cory Haberley, but that was not enough to take them over the line.

The two sides will face each other for the second and final T20 match of the bilateral series on Monday at the PES Grounds in Bangalore, before Australia head off to Sri Lanka for a bilateral series.

Brief Scores:
India 291/4 in 20 overs (Prakash Jayaramaiah 132 retd., Shekar Naik 131; Lindsay Heaven 2-37, Matt McCarthy 2-64) beat Australia 162/5 (Michael Zennis 50, Corey Haberley 34; Amol Karche 3-10) by 129 runs.

By : Himanish Bhattacharjee- He  is a Sub-Editor at Wisden India. You can follow him @TheHimanish

Source : Wisden India , 13th April 2014

189,000 kids get anti-polio vaccine in Syria

A total of 189,000 children, aged below five, have been vaccinated against polio for the past week in the the central province of Homs, as part of a national government campaign in the war-torn country, state media reported.

The national vaccination campaign, the fifth one since last year, started Sunday. It has provided children under the age of five with free vaccines in 50 towns of Homs and some of its hotspot suburbs, Xinhua quoted citing data from the health department of Homs.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said recently that the recent polio outbreak in Syria is the first since 1999.

Preliminary evidence indicates that the polio virus is of Pakistani origin and is similar to the strain detected in Egypt, the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the last 12 months.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system. It can cause complete paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine.

According to WHO, the health situation in Syria has been deteriorating due to shortage of medicines and medical workers, destruction of health facilities and difficult access to health care. 

Source :
Business Standard , 13th April 2014