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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Handicapped show film bravery

Movie fans will know all about Boyhood, the Oscar- nominated US film that was shot over many years of the actors' lives, so the characters aged naturally in line with the story.

Another coming-of-age film is under production a bit closer to home for us. Called Eat Bitter, Taste Sweet, it has been two years in the making and with any luck it will be finished in around a year.

It is not a work of fiction but a documentary about three physically disabled young people in the mainland going through school and preparing to enter the world of employment and adulthood.

It is produced by Marie-Anne Follett and directed by John Calvin Fong, Americans who taught at the Guangzhou English Language Training Center for the Handicapped, where much of the documentary takes place.

In order to respect the subjects' need to get on with their studies, there hasn't been much publicity for the film so far. But having been allowed to see some clips, I can say this is going to be a powerful and moving documentary.

The young subjects are brave, ambitious and optimistic, but China is not always a welcoming or easy place for the handicapped. Hopefully, the scenes yet to be filmed will show the three doing well.

You can find out more about the project at 

http:/ / programs/project-development-and-fiscal-sponsorship/ eat-bitter-taste-sweet. 

You can also help FUNDthe film by making a donation at that site.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings.

Source: The Standard,18th March 2015 

750 Teynampet shops rapped for encroaching pavements - Chennai

The city corporation has issued warning notices to more than a thousand commercial establishments that have not made their buildings disabled-friendly or have encroached upon pavements. Officers of Teynampet zone, which includes Mylapore, Nungambakkam, Royapettah and parts of T Nagar, have issued notices to 750 small shops and hotels. 

The corporation had earlier said it would suspend licences of establishments that are inaccessible to the disabled and those who have taken over pavements. 

"We've given them some time to construct ramps before a March 31 deadline and remove anything that may obstruct pedestrians," a corporation official said. Apart from hawkers setting up shop on pavements, several retail and commercial outlets also violate space meant for pedestrians. Some display their products on pavements, while others have converted pavements into parking lots. 

After a survey found that several thousand commercial and multi-storey buildings in the city had no facilities for the disabled, the corporation, following the National Building Code of India, 2005, decided to issue warning notices. 

"The differently-abled and the elderly must be able to get in to any shop or eatery without help," said a corporation official. "We have instructed all officers to ensure that owners of commercial establishments do not park their vehicles or allow customers to park on footpaths." 

If the corporation sticks to its promise, those violating norms may lose licences. And those operating without licences can be proceeded against under the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919. 

Those seeking new licences or renewing old ones are also mandated to display name boards in Tamil, not connect sewer lines to storm water drains and provide CCTV cameras on the premises. Printing institutions will have to maintain a register with details of advertisers, including name, address and contact number. 

The corporation of Chennai had earlier said it would suspend licences of establishments that are inaccessible to the disabled and shops that have taken over pavements 

Source: TOI,19th March 2015 

Women quota in sleeper coaches hiked

As announced in the Railway Budget, railway administration has decided to increase the quota of women in sleeper coaches of the trains. However, quota in other classes of trains including AC-III and AC-II has not been increased. Moreover, instructions have also been issued to TTEs to allocate lower berths to senior citizens and pregnant women during train journey. In this connection, Railway Board has written letters to all the zonal railways including North Central Railway.

Director, Traffic Commercial (G) in the Railway Board S K Ahirwar has written letters to all the chief commercial managers of zonal railways, including North Central Railway. The number of the letter is 2007/TG-1/20/P/Pt-II dated March 13, 2015.

The letter states that the existing combined quota of two berths per coach in sleeper class for women, senior citizens and pregnant women should be increased to four berths per coach in the sleeper class. However, there will be no change in the quota being earmarked for AC-II and AC-III class of the train.

Two berths per coach have been reserved for senior citizens, women passengers and pregnant women in sleeper, AC-III class and AC-II tier class of the trains from April 18, 2007 onwards. However, this time the quota of these categories of passengers has been increased from two to four only in the sleeper class while quota in the AC-III and AC-II class has been left untouched.

Moreover, the on-board ticket checking staff has been authorized to allocate vacant lower berths available in the train to senior citizens, physically handicapped persons and pregnant women (who have been allotted middle/upper) berths, on approach, on first come first served basis after making necessary entry in the chart.

However, the existing reservation quota of six berths for female passengers being earmarked in long distance mail/express train should be in the middle of the coach.

Source: TOI , 21st March 2015 

Facilities for Physically challenged given away in Kallamundur - Moodabidre


R Bed Facility for the Physically Challenged person called Arun Kumar from Ganyadpu in Kallamundkur Village an a wheel chair to Ramanna were given away  by Joquim Correa, President of Kallamundkur Panchayath.
Vice President Uma Naik, members like Harish, Ramanna Gowda, PDO B Uggappa Moolya were present on the occasion.

Source: V4news, 19th March 2015 


Physically Challenged SKIMS Doctor Receives Gandhi Scholarship Award- Srinagar

Dr Tufail Muzaffar Senior Resident in Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) was awarded Gandhi Scholarship Award of Rs 10,000 and merit certificate in a conference held by Indian Federation of Neuro-Rehabilitation (IFNR) in Mumbai on Thursday.

Worth to mention that Dr. Tufail is physically challenged but is doing good and has proved that physical infirmity can’t stop one to achieve his/her goals.


As per a statement of the SKIMS, Dr Tufail thanked Director SKIMS  Dr S.A. Zargar for encouraging research by young scholars of the  institute.  Dr.Tufail was permitted by Director SKIMS to travel to Kessler Research Foundation NJ, USA to learn Neurocognitive rehabilitation for post stroke patients with hemineglect.

IFNR is an organisation that promulgates Neurorehabilitation in India and works in association with World Federation of Neuro-Rehabiliation (WFNR). This conference was chaired by President of WFNR Dr. Barbra Wilson and other international faculties from across the world.

This was first conference of its type in India where two conferences WFNR held in Abu Dhabi and IFNR in Mumbai running in parallel and were teleconferenced across the world with direct questioning via web relay.

Source: Kashmirlife , 19th March 2015

Autism risk genes linked to higher intelligence - London


Genes linked with a greater risk of developing autism may also be associated with higher intelligence, a new study has found.
The study found new evidence linking genetic factors associated with autism to better cognitive ability in people who do not have the condition.
Although up to 70 per cent of individuals with autism have an intellectual disability, some people with the disorder have relatively well-preserved, or even higher than average, non-verbal intelligence, the researchers said.
Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant language and speech difficulties. Non-verbal intelligence enables people to solve complex problems using visual and hands-on reasoning skills requiring little or no use of language.
Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Queensland analysed almost 10,000 people recruited from the general population of Scotland. Individuals were tested for general cognitive ability and had their DNA analysed.
The team found that among people who never develop autism, carrying genetic traits associated with the disorder is, on average, linked to scoring slightly better on cognitive tests.
Researchers found further evidence of a link between autism-associated genes and intelligence when they carried out the same tests on 921 adolescents who were part of the Brisbane Adolescent Twin Study.
"Our findings show that genetic variation which increases risk for autism is associated with better cognitive ability in non-autistic individuals," said Dr Toni-Kim Clarke, of the University of Edinburgh's Division of Psychiatry, who led the study.
The study is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Source: Zee News , 21st March 2015 

Visually-impaired, but this man doesn’t lack vision - Panaji ( Goa )

He eats the same food as you, does his routine activities just as you do, and lives his life pretty much the same way as you. The only difference being the darkness that shrouds his eyes.

Taha Haaziq has been visually-impaired for most of his life. But over the years, he has not only overcome his own weakness but is also contributing in his own way to improve the day-to-day lives of people like him.

Now 30, Haaziq currently works at the state central library in Panaji. In this role, he spreads awareness about the latest assistive technologies that can be availed of by the differently-abled community.

But life has not always been so easy for Haaziq. When he was two years old, he was detected with Retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe impairment or blindness. Back then, Haaziq was living in Mumbai with his family.

He was admitted to a special school. But quickly noticing young Taha's extraordinary potential for learning and insatiable hunger for knowledge, his family admitted him to a regular school "Children would often tease me or play pranks because I was different from them," Haaziq tells STOI. "But I continued to go to school," he continues resolutely.

When he was ten years old, the Haaziq family moved to Goa. Taha began attending the Jesuit-run St Britto's high school in Mapusa. Later, he studied Hindustani classical music at the Goa College of Music.

He spoke to STOI about his extraordinary academic journey. "In school, I had some vision with which I could read if the light was bright. When that was no longer possible, I would ask people to read to me." He credits those who tried to make his life easier. "My teachers were very helpful and supportive," he says. "In college, friends would record notes which I would then learn by rote. A writer would be arranged to physically write the exam for me."

After college, he attended various courses in assistive technology to develop his skills. He also worked for the National Association for the Blind (NAB), Goa, as a computer and voice trainer till 2012. In 2014, he moved to his current position at the Central Library.

Haaziq readily admits that his knowledge of Braille is minimal. "I am more comfortable with technology," he says. "I am immensely privileged compared to visually-impaired people in the previous decade. People earlier used traditional methods of teaching and many still continue to do so. Today, we have the technology to live normally but not many visually-challenged people are exposed to it. For those who are, technology is helping them through phones, computers and softwares."

When Haaziq is free, he constantly tests gadgets and apps that could help improve his life. He is well-versed with technology and social media, and keeps himself updated with the help of apps and websites. The Screen Reader installed on his computer and phone automatically reads out content on the screen for him.

But learning, he believes, is a continuous process. He has 92 apps on his phone that help him discover something new every day. Out of these, he names his favourites — Bluemail, an email application. TapTapSee, a camera application designed specifically for the visually impaired iOS users. And Be My Eyes, an iPhone app that connects visually-impaired people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat.

Haaziq's latest finding is the SmartCane device, an electronic travel aid developed by IIT, Delhi, which fits on the top fold of the regular walking cane. It actively detects obstacles thus keeping him constantly notified about impending objects. In simple words, the SmartCane vibrates every time he is close to an object. This helps him in preventing unwanted contact and grants him safe mobility.

At the Central Library, Haaziq has plans to introduce assistive technologies like magnifiers to enlarge print and other softwares for people with locomotive disabilities, dyslexia and physical disorders to learn better. This, he believes will usher in a new kind of change in the attitudes of people.

"Everything is possible provided space is given to a differently-abled person," he stresses. "Society plays a very important role in building and shattering confidence. That's why we need people to be empathic instead of sympathetic."

Source: TOI , 22nd March 2015 

Callous babus set disabled athletes an obstacle course

Over 600 disabled athletes from across India, who are in Ghaziabad for the 15th National Para-Athletic Championship, have been crammed into a couple of partially constructed buildings that will serve as their dorms for the three-day meet. Forget being disabled-friendly, the buildings are unfurnished and don't even have functional toilets and drinking water, forcing both male and female athletes to sleep on the floor and bathe and defecate in the open.

Callous babus set disabled athletes an obstacle course
In the absence of proper ramps, athletes are forced to abandon their wheelchairs. 

Organized by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), the championship lasting from March 20 to March 22, will serve as a qualifier for an international grand prix event for para-athletes that will be held in Delhi later this year.

On Saturday, a TOI team that visited the "living quarters" of the athletes — the campus of a private college in Madhuban-Bapudham area — saw how the athletes who have braved tremendous odds to reach this level using water from two tankers stationed in the lawn to both drink and bathe. Inside the building, crude wooden planks served as makeshift ramps, forcing some athletes to abandon their wheelchairs and drag themselves up the stairs.

There was just one toilet on each of the five floors. The washbasins in some of them did not have taps. The dorms were squalid and no cleaning staff visible.

"Female athletes have not had a bath for two days in a row," said Mahesh Nehra (27), an athlete from Rajasthan who is participating in the 800m running event. "There is just one food stall. The food is neither good nor served on time. The dining area is not cleaned up after meals. We are being supplied the same bland food comprising rice, rotis and vegetables for the last two days. To get milk or fruits, we have to go to the nearest village, Duhai, which is around 2.5 km away."

The place is at least 3.5 km off NH-58, midway between two small villages — Duhai and Matiyala. There are no public or private transportation facilities available for the athletes, many of whom have already represented the country at international events.

There was no PCI representative at the venue. The sole clerk in the college office said he was busy preparing rolls for the BCom exam, which is being held in the same buildings during the day.

Each team has been provided a single room each, with mattresses and blankets spread on the floor. Most rooms are yet to be fitted with window frames. "On the first day, we slept on the floor. Windows had to be covered with old newspapers. The mattresses arrived only a day later," said Kanhay Roy (20), an athlete from Jharkhand who is participating in the 100m sprint and javelin throw events.

The entire Rajasthan team, consisting of 40 members, both male and female, has been packed into a single mid-size hall. All 130 members of the Haryana contingent have been allocated a hall in a basement dank with water seepage.

"Even if a wheelchair bound athlete feels thirsty in the middle of the night, he has to fetch water from the tankers stationed in the lawns," said Alimon (27), an athlete from Kerala participating in the triple jump and shot-put events.

"On the first day, an athlete had to wait for at least an hour for a bandage on a minor bruise," said Jethalal Nakhumb (50), team Gujarat team escort.

Pradeep Raj, general secretary of the Delhi-based Association for Disabled People, said the PCI had been doing this with impunity for several years. "Why should the sports ministry give funds to such an organization? The PCI has been organizing games in the same shoddy manner ever since they were recognized by the sports ministry in 2006. In Ghaziabad, they did not even pick up the players from the railway station. For the international event scheduled to be held in Delhi in May, the Union ministry of social justice has apparently set aside a substantial sum as grant. But going by past record, players are not going to benefit from these funds," Raj said.

When contacted, Rajesh Tomar, president of PCI, admitted that it had been brought to his notice that the games have been poorly organized and managed. But he blamed another official for the abysmal arrangements. "The organizing secretary of the event is to blame for this fiasco. I was at the sports ministry in Delhi on Saturday to address some issues pertaining to prize MONEY for the para-athletes but am rushing to Ghaziabad immediately. I had initially objected to the choice of venue given that some technical specifications did not match the needs of the athletes. But my objections were overruled by other members of the committee. A panel %will be set up on Sunday to% examine the reasons behind the mismanagement of the event," he said.

Source: TOI, 22nd March 2015 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Jaitley proposes universal social security scheme for all

Finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed a universal social security scheme for all Indians in his budget speech on Saturday, offering subsidised insurance and pensions targeted especially at the poor, underprivileged and elderly.

The centre plans to provide a social security net to the unorganised labour sector

Buoyed by India’s sunny fiscal climate, Jaitley laid out a safety net with accidental death insurance of Rs 2 lakh for a premium of just one rupee a month.

“A large proportion of India’s population is without insurance of any kind - health, accidental or life is worrying, as our young population ages, it is also going to be pension-less,” he said, announcing the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana

The government also plans to set up a basic pension scheme, the Atal Pension Yojana, for the millions of Indians unable to put money aside for their old age, Jaitley said.

“To encourage people to join this scheme, the government will contribute 50% of the beneficiaries’ premium limited to 1000 each year, for five years, in the new accounts opened before 31st December, 2015,” Jaitley said.

The minister announced the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Beema Yojana – an insurance plan covering not just accidental but also natural death – of Rs 2 lakh at a premium of Rs 330 per year for the 18-50 age group.   

Based on a new GDP formula, India’s economy is growing at a faster rate than previously thought, but many ordinary Indians are yet to feel the benefit.

The government has also decided to set up a Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund, which will derive capital from a corpus set up with unclaimed deposits in EPF and PPF. Those among the elderly who are physically challenged will get assistance in the form physical aids and equipment.

Source: Hindustan Times, 1st March 2015

Inspirational 9-year-old who can't walk or talk achieves dream of becoming a model

Strong: Holly has now taken part in TWO modelling campaigns

Little Holly Greenhow is carving out quite a modelling career despite being unable to walk or talk.

The nine-year-old has athetoid cerebral palsy, so needs a wheelchair and a computer operated by eye movement to communicate.

But amazingly she has now taken part in TWO modelling campaigns.

The pretty school girl, whose condition was caused by a prolonged loss of oxygen at birth, was picked to star in the latest modelling shoot for F&F children’s clothes at Tesco.
  Holly Greenhow, who has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, and is featuring in a fashion advert for Tesco
Bright spark: Holly loves doing modelling shoots
Holly, who uses a wheelchair and communicates using a special computer system operated by her eyes, shone at the shoot and now features on the fashion pages of the Tesco website.

She has previously done a photo shoot for fashion retailer Boden and mum Fiona hopes her growing success will help to change attitudes to disability.

“Holly really enjoyed the modelling shoot for F&F. She had her hair and make-up done and was given lots of attention,” said Fiona, from Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire.

“There are so many activities she can’t take part in because of her disabilities, such as dancing, so this was a real treat for her.

“She loves clothes and choosing her own outfits so modelling is a great thing for Holly to do and I’m really pleased she has been given another opportunity.”
Holly Greenhow, who has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, and is featuring in a fashion advert for Tesco
Adorable: Holly attends main stream school despite her disabilities
Holly, who has an older brother Oliver who is 11, was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and although she understands everything, her movement, balance and speech are impaired.

Despite her disabilities she attends main stream school, where she is doing well, and enjoys swimming, horse riding and wheelchair sports.

“She has really grow up in the last couple of years and is doing very well at school and becoming more independent,” added Fiona.

“She is able to go out at break times with her friends now and they look after her instead of a teaching assistant, which is lovely.

“Academically she is also moving on, but because of her communication issues everything takes a little longer.”

Holly also had eye surgery last year to correct a squint, which means she now finds it easier to use the eye gaze computer system, which helps her communicate in a similar way to Professor Stephen Hawking.

“The eye surgery worked really well and she has a lot of her big teeth now, which have come through perfectly, so she has a beautiful smile,” said Fiona.

“She is also on a special anti-Parkinsons drug which means she doesn’t dribble now, so in all ways she is
really growing up.”

Holly has always enjoyed choosing her own clothes so Fiona thought she might like to try modelling and she did her first shoot for Boden in 2013.

She enjoyed it so much that Fiona took her for further castings and she was picked for the Tesco campaign last autumn.

Holly spent a day modelling with other children and appears on the Tesco website in a pretty pink top, pink heart leggings and brown boots.

“I wasn’t sure if the Boden job would be a one hit wonder so I’m thrilled that Holly has been given another opportunity to do some modelling,” added Fiona.

“It also sends out a very positive message for other children with disabilities.”

Lucy Wheeler, head of multi-channel content at Tesco, said: “We were delighted to offer Holly the chance to appear on the F&F website.

“Holly really enjoyed the shoot and was a pleasure to work with throughout. We wish her all the best for the future.”

Richard Hawkes, CEO of disability charity Scope, said: “It’s great to see more and more household brands like Tesco using disabled models in their campaigns.

“Holly’s ongoing success shows that there is real appetite for diversity. We’ve also seen disabled models taking centre stage at New York Fashion Week - including Jack Eyers, who fronted our Strip for Scope campaign last year.

“There have been some positive recent breakthroughs, but there is still a long way to go. We want to get to a point where the media and marketing worlds better reflect the diverse society we live in.”

Source:, 26th Feb 2015

She sold her jewellery to set up ‘special school’ in Kashmir

On a cold January morning in Srinagar, Tasleema Shah clutched two thick notebooks in her hands and set out on a journey that entails meetings with her students, one of the few things which bring her solace and immense moral gratification. The impotent sun over the city is cloaked under dark, snow-pregnant clouds. Temperature has plummeted below zero. Tasleema slumps in the backseat of her school van, whizzing past the lanes and by lanes of Shalimar locality, past Mughal Gardens, past happy couples strolling along the Boulevard Road, past Dal Lake. Her first stop is almost a kilometer away, at a dilapidated, single-storied house bordered by a newly-built brick wall. A corrugated tin-sheet nailed to a loose wooden frame acts as the main gate of the house. Tasleema opens the gate, walks on the gravel-laden path and knocks at the main door of the house. Suhaib Nazir, 10, one of her students who suffers from autism, lives here.

Autism is a rare, mental disorder characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. Autistic patients grow excessive facial hear, avoid eye contact and exhibit a delayed reaction to happenings. At least 10 million people in India alone suffer from autism and out of 250 newborns, one is autistic. When Suhaib turned two, he would cry endlessly, drooled and got irritated without any reason. That’s when his father, Nazir Ahmed Rather, a government employee, showed him to a doctor and learned that his only son suffered from autism. Suhaib was raised with care and when time came, enrolled in a mainstream school. But his parents felt he was neglected by teachers there. At the age of eight years, he was enrolled in Kaunsar Special School opened by Tasleema for differently-abled children in Shalimar locality.

A frail woman wearing a ragged tweed pheran opens the door. A smile forms on her face when she sees Tasleema. After exchanging customary pleasantries, the two women walk into the house. Tasleema is led into a dimly-lit room whose walls are flaking distemper. Suhaib is sitting in a corner. Tasleema sits to his left while to his right sits Suhaib’s mother, Parveena, who had opened the door. Her hands seems parched and her face has developed wrinkles. Married into a lower-middle class family, she seems to have toiled in all these years in order to meet the gastronomical needs of her family.

Tasleema greets Suhaib and asks him about his daily routine; brushing teeth, bathing, breakfast and how he had spent the last day. Throughout the conversation, Suhaib kept his head down. He initially replied in extended hmmmms but, when pressed further, blurted out short sentences, never more than three word long. Tasleema chides him for avoiding eye contact, turning to his mother to investigate whether Suhaib is being taken care of, the second purpose of Tasleema’s “home visit” besides meeting her students. She has to ensure that her students complete the tasks assigned to them and also leaves a fresh set of assignments before leaving.

Suhaib has been showing tremendous improvement. His fits of rage has come down and he talks in broken sentences. It’s a relief which his parents had never imagined to come. They credit Tasleema for the achievement who is one of the few persons with unfettered access to Suhaib.

In her mid-thirties, Tasleema was born in a middle class family in Anantnag town. Her father is a government employee while her mother is a home-maker. Being the eldest child among the four siblings – two sisters and two brothers – Tasleema wanted to make it big and set a benchmark for her other siblings. She got her education at government-run schools. At a young age after completing her 12th in arts stream, she was married in Srinagar’s Nishat area. Just two year later, issues started cropping up between the couple, culminating in their divorce in 2011. She has two children from her husband; the eldest son studies in fifth class and the second son is in third standard. She doesn’t want to talk about her past.

“It was earth shattering experience,” Tasleema says of her marriage, “I had died inside.” But she didn’t give up on life. She prepared herself to face greater challenges, “I had to stand up on my own legs, for myself and my children.”

Soon after the divorce, she frantically looked for a job. With mediocre education, getting a job was going to be difficult but she didn’t lose hope, “After a long struggle, I got a job in a school in 2008 as an assistant teacher. It was a school for children who required special care.” Her interaction with the specially-abled children inspired her and it turned into a stepping stone for her journey into the world of social work from which she has never looked back, “I saw these kids are actually very special. Unfortunately, in Kashmiri, we call them maet (crazy) or malang (lunatics).”

Before she donned the robes of a social activist, Tasleema was just like any other married woman. Her world revolved around her husband and her in-laws. However, as things turned ugly, she got ready to face greater challenges in her life. In the following year, she attended various training programs conducted by Special Olympics – Bharat, an NGO that organizes Olympic sports for people with disabilities.

“They impart special training to the teachers working with the special kids. I also got an opportunity to take differently-abled kids of the Valley on an eight-day program to Punjab and other states,” she says.

In 2009, Tasleema conducted a door-to-door survey on the number of physically challenged kids from Dal Gate to Harwan. The stretch of road is an ideal resting place for thousands of tourists who come to holiday among the lush-green meadows and snow-capped mountains. Tourism is a flourishing business in Kashmir. The state government spends millions of rupees every year to attract more tourists to the state. Over a million came last year, brightening the financial prospects of people associated with the industry.

“I found 130 differently-abled kids in the area. As time passed, my emotional attachment with these kids increased and I felt I had to do more for them,” she says.

While the JK Disablities Act, 1998, makes three percent reservation for differently-abled children mandatory for all the private schools, the act seems to have been thrown to the winds in the Valley. This apathy gave Tasleema idea to come up with a special school of her own. It wasn’t going to be easy but Tasleem was resolute and she sold her jewelry.

“I was gifted jewelry worth INR five hundred thousand by father on my marriage which I sold off,” Tasleema says, “and with that money I ran the school expenses for two years.”

In the coming years, with her dedication and vision, she bought a vehicle and necessary equipment for school purpose. She also hired a special educator. She started with small steps and never looked back. Her school, which started with just three students and one teacher in a small room from Shalimar, soon became popular throughout the city.

While the schools across the region are closed for winter vacations. Tasleema leaves her home early in the morning to know the progress made by her students, “Have faith in Allah and take care of your children. They will be doing fine soon, Insha Allah,” she assures one of the parents of a differently-abled child in Dalgate.

Working for differently-abled in itself is a great cause, but working for such kids at a place where these underprivileged kids make up a significant part of the population makes it even nobler. The Census 2011 says that Jammu and Kashmir has a total population of around 3.76 Lakh disabled persons, an increase of almost 69,000 persons as compared to 3.067 lakh in 2001. However, if a survey conducted by Zeba Aapa Institute for Inclusive Education is to be believed, the total population of differently-abled persons in J&K is 8 lakh, three times more than the government survey.

After she finishes her ‘home visits’, Tasleema heads home, a rented building in Shalimar, which takes 30 minutes from her last stop at Dara in Harwan, almost 10 km from her school. Her day doesn’t end there. From being a social worker during the day, the tired Tasleema now dons the role of a homemaker. While she puts up a brave face in front of the world, she feels lonely inside. Her professional life is in deep contrast with her personal life.

Her school has 20 differently-abled kids and she has hired two special educators and one physiotherapist. The school now operates from a four-roomed rented building with many equipment for giving physical strength to the students. Al-Habib Foundation, a trust registered with the state government, meets most of the school’s expenses. The foundation has provided various facilities as well as equipment to the school. Tasleema says in past two years, three of her differently-abled students were enrolled in a normal school. “It’s a big achievement for me and my management,” she says.

Tasleema seems to be content with her efforts but she feels that the state government should change its “lackadaisical attitude” towards such kids. “The state government should come forward to help us,” she says, “We were given vehicle last year by the state government but beyond that, no help has come. Even locals do not give us space because they think we will not be able to afford the rent.”

She feels the differently-abled children are send as a test by God for the parents, “We must not be ashamed of them. We will be closer to heaven if we take great care of them.”

Currently, she is pursuing her masters in social works from Indira Gandhi National Open University. “I am doing it so that I understand these kids better. That’s how I can connect with them effectively.”

It’s not easy to manage the school, then home visits, then kids and then her own studies, but she doesn’t complain. “This is all Huqooq-ul-Ibaad. I am doing this for greater reward in the world hereafter.

Tasleema’s eldest kid is 10-years-old who often complains to her that she loves her students more than him. “Every time he says this, I only offer a smile in response. I believes Allah will bestow me with ‘Jannat-Ul-Firdous’,” she says.

Source: Rising Kashmir, 2nd March 2015

Physically challenged minor faces cocktail blast

A physically challenged 12-year old girl was injured in a cocktail blast in city’s Kadamtala area on Saturday afternoon.

The ill-fated girl has been identified as Dolon Akhter.

Victim’s father Robiul said that a cocktail was blasted in the area around 4:00pm while she was playing with other kids adjacent to her home.

She received severe injuries on her face and other parts of body, Robiul added.

However, she was stormed to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.

DMCH police outpost in-charge Mozammel Haque confirmed the matter to banglanews.

Source : BD Bangla News, 28th  Feb 2015

Venue Witnesses Myriad Emotions : KAKKANAD

The sea of humanity at the venue of the revenue adalat displayed varied emotions as the day progressed. As many as 33,000 people lined up at Ernakulam Collectorate on Friday. People from far flung areas, the physically challenged and those suffering from various diseases like cancer came early in the morning to ensure a seat in the large and awaited, with hope writ large on their faces, to hear the golden words ‘issue settled’.

“I have been awaiting for the title deed of the land that was allotted to me by the government for the past 38 years. I was allotted the land and the house under the ‘Laksham Veedu housing colony project’. It’s my last wish to die in the house whose title deed is in my hands. I don’t know whether this adalat can fulfil my last wish,” said 89-year-old K R Saraswathy who came to the adalat in a wheel chair with her grandson Rajesh.

The adalat bore witness to people joining in the happiness of others who got their complaints settled.

When Minister Adoor Prakash issued the order for the ‘pokkuvaravu’ for the 197 families of Santhipuram colony the large hall resounded with shouts of joy. The title deed issue which was pending in the court for the last 45 years was settled in the adalat. “For us February 27 will always remain a memorable day in our life. We have spent every single day in our life to settle this issue. We are really thankful to the government for ending the long battle,” said a 65-year-old man who had began been working for the settlement of the issue when he was in his 20’s.

As many as 33,000 people lined up for the hearing. Around 5,000 fresh complaints were received on Friday.

Most of the complaints have been regarding financial aid for treatment from the Chief Minister’s relief fund, title deeds and pokkuvaravu.

“We can settle as many as three lakh applications in the state. With the completion of these adalats the state will be free from revenue issue matters. Some of the cases will remain pending as more time is needed to settle them. Strong follow up will be done to complete all types of revenue related and other grievances,” told Minister Adoor Prakash to ‘Express’.

Source: The New Indian Express, 28th Feb 2015

CPI(M) adopts resolution on Bengal violence - AGARTALA

State Conference of CPI (M) in Tripura on Friday adopted a resolution on alleged atrocities perpetrated by the Trinamool Congress against Left parties in West Bengal. The resolution detailed incidents of murder, intimidation, gun attack, police harassment and all category crimes meted out against the rank and file of CPI (M) and other Left organisations.

“The delegates would pass the resolution tomorrow”, CPI(M) state secretary said

“Fascist attacks are taking place in Bengal since Trinamool Congress government was installed in 2011,” said West Bengal party secretary Biman Basu.

Mr Basu conceded that a sizeable number of party cadres remained inactive and the process to reactivate this lot was on the cards. He announced that the party would organise a mammoth rally in Kolkata on March 8 to mark the State conference.

Politburo member Brinda Karat advised state unit to pursue social media to draw youths into party fold.
In a brief speech she also felt need for expanding activities of party affiliates on tribal and physically challenged people. Efforts of these fronts are pulling more and more families towards CPI (M), she opined.

Source: The Hindu, 28th Feb 2015 

Man Rapes friend's Mentally Challenged Daughter; Held - Vellore

A 50 year-old man was arrested on Wednesday for raping his friend’s 35 year-old mentally challenged daughter.

The shocking incident came to light when the mother of the victim took her daughter to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Alamelumangapuram as her daughter was vomiting frequently. She was told at the PHC that her daughter was pregnant. This prognosis was confirmed at the  Government Vellore Medical College Hospital (GVMCH) on Tuesday. The doctor at the GVMCH, after examining the victim, told the mother that the victim was three months pregnant.

“My daughter started to vomit frequently a week ago. Worried about her health, the mother first took her to a PHC in Alamelumangapuram for treatment. The doctors, after finding that she was pregnant, referred her to the GVMCH for further check up,” said the police personnel attached to the All Women Police Station (AWPS) of Ranipet.

On being informed, Inspector J Kalaiarasi of AWPS, Ranipet, learned from the mother that her daughter had told her that Vetri Selvan (alias) Hidayathullah their close family friend and a resident of Melvishram, had been ‘physically intimate’ with her. “The victim’s mother often goes to her brother’s house in Oosur and stays there for a week. Her father goes to work and returns home late. Taking advantage of this, Hidayathuallah threatened the mentally challenged woman, who was also partially disabled, and raped her,” police said.

Based on the complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, the police registered a case under Section 376 (rape) and Section 506(i) (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and arrested Hidayathullah on Wednesday. He has been remanded under judicial custody in the Vellore Central Prison.

Source: The New Indian Express, 27th Feb 2015 

‘Disabled should get reservation in promotion’ - New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday said the government could not deny quota in promotion to those who were appointed to a post under the reservation policy for the physically handicapped.

A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and A K Sikri rejected the Union government's plea to set aside a high court decision ordering that those appointed in government service through physically handicapped quota would also be entitled to reservation while getting promoted.

Arguing for the Centre, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said there were four categories of civil services and if a person had availed the reservation benefit in getting a job, it would be unfair to extend the reservation benefit yet again to him while considering him for promotion to the higher category of service. 

 The bench was not convinced. It said, "Why confine the reservation benefit only to the entry level and not for promotion. If a person is disabled, he is always disabled. So, as long as the disability continues, he should continue to get reservation benefits. We feel that these disabled persons should have reservation not only at the entry level but also at the time of promotion."

The law provides for 3% reservation to physically challenged persons in government service. After a long adjudication process on a public interest litigation, the apex court had directed governments to implement the quota for disabled and fill the vacancies including backlog.

On October 8, 2013, the SC in a landmark order had directed the Centre and states to implement within three months an 18-year-old law mandating 3% reservation for such persons in government jobs.

The 1995 Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act came into force on February 7, 1996 providing a minimum 3% reservation in government establishments to the extent of 1% each for persons suffering from blindness or low vision; hearing impairment; and locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.

The reservations will be implemented by all government departments, public sector undertakings and government companies at the Centre and states, enlarging opportunities for persons with disabilities eligible for benefits under the law.

Rejecting the AG's arguments, the bench of Justices Dattu and Sikri said, "Don't give a restrictive meaning to reservation by confining it to the appointment level. Disabled persons should be empowered to compete with normal people in promotion."

When the AG argued further against grant of reservation benefits in promotion to disabled persons, the bench cut it short by telling him that persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes got the benefit of reservation both in appointment and promotion. 

Source: TOI , 28th Feb 2015

95% TMC budget for disabled left unused - THANE

The civic body has set aside Rs 9.22 crore in the 2015-16 budget for implementing disabled-friendly schemes after it failed to spend 95.12% of the money allocated for welfare of the physically challenged over the past four years.

Records released by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) said that in the past four years, TMC made budgetary allocations worth Rs 14.5 crore for making Thane a disabled-friendly city. The civic authorities ended up spending just
Rs 70.66 lakh.

The move has not gone down well with the association of the disabled people. "The money spent for the welfare of physically challenged people clearly reflects the apathy of the TMC," said Mohammed Yusuf Khan, a Mumbra resident, who heads Brihan Maharashtra Apang Vikas Kamghar Sanghatna.

Officials admitted that much more needs to be done for the welfare of the disabled people.

"The civic body needs to first conduct a scientific survey of the number of handicapped people in Thane. Without this data it will be difficult to analyze the need of the people and areas where TMC's assistance could help people overcome their problems," said a TMC official.

He added that TMC should ensure that budgetary provision allocated for the upliftment of the physically challenged does not lapse due to lack of ideas.

Ameya Mogre, president of an organization working for the differently abled, said that most people were unaware of schemes put in place by TMC for them. "TMC should chalk out plans for spreading awareness about availability of funds for the welfare of the physically challenged," he said.

Source: TOI, 2nd March 2015 

Announcing the 2015 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities

Announcing the 2015 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities

Lime Connect (Lime) and its corporate partners PepsiCo, IBM, Google, Target, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg and JP Morgan are pleased to announce The 2015 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities. Lime Connect is rebranding disability through achievement via its fresh approach in the disability talent space, and the premier Fellowship Program attracts highly accomplished students with disabilities, prepares them for the recruitment process, and connects them with the worlds leading corporations for potential summer internships. This year long program includes educational workshops, leadership/skill building, interview preparation, coaching and multiple opportunities to connect with partner companies via The Leadership & Development Symposium and more. Fellows are also part of the lifelong Lime Fellows Network.

I have learned and grown so much from the fellowship program and internship recruiting process I have realized that I love leading and working with people... I have come to view myself in a totally new light, something that has been influenced heavily by my experiences with Lime Connect, the Fellowship and my awesome internship at Bloomberg. - 2013 Lime Fellow, Brown University
Lime Connect Fellow Benefits:
  •     Participation in an all-expense paid Leadership & Development Symposium in NYC
  •     Connect with Lime Connects partner companies via the symposium, networking events, career workshops & more for potential summer internships
  •     Ongoing professional development & coaching for internship and career success
  •     Lifelong benefits of The Lime Connect Fellows Network

Eligibility Requirements:
  •     A current sophomore/rising junior at a four-year university in the United States
  •     Continuing studies as a full-time student for the 2015-2016 academic year
  •     Eligible to work in the United States
  •     A person with a (visible or invisible) disability.* (See definition below.)
  •     If selected, candidates will attend the following all-expense paid events in New York City:
May 28 or 29, 2015 Lime Connect Fellows Selection Super Day (all finalists)

July 29 - August 2, 2015 Lime Connect Fellows Leadership & Development Symposium
Join us for the following virtual information sessions (register at
  •     Wednesday, March 4th at 12:30 pm EST
  •     Sunday, March 22nd at 8:00pm EST
How to Apply:

Candidates apply online via The Lime Network, and provide the following:
  •     Contact and education information
  •     Current resume
  •     Answers to essay questions
  •     One letter of recommendation from a professor, advisor or supervisor (required for semi-finalists - due later)
To register for The Lime Network and apply:

Go to

Application Deadline: Midnight EST on Sunday, April 5, 2015 (semi-finalists will submit letters of reference at a later date)

The Lime Network is designed as an exclusive resource for high potential university students, and alumni, who happen to have disabilities. It is Lime Connects broader, virtual program that prepares and connects candidates for career success regardless of their geographic location. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to register and learn of all Lime Connect opportunities, including scholarships, recruitment receptions, internship and full time career opportunities, professional development webinars and more.

*A person with a disability is defined as someone who has, or considers themselves to have, a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more activities that others may consider to be a daily function. This definition also includes the perception among others that a disability exists. We know that 90% of disabilities on campus are invisible, and candidates with all disabilities are encouraged to apply.

About Lime Connect:

Lime Connect is a not for profit organization that is rebranding disability through achievement and is the premier resource for top talent in the disability space by attracting, preparing and connecting highly accomplished individuals with disabilities for careers with the worlds leading corporations. Our goal is to break stereotypes and lead all companies to realize the importance, and value, of employing people with disabilities at every level of education, talent and ability. 
Source: ITbusinessnet , 28th Feb 2015