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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sonia Gandhi at SAMARTH-2014: Take correct steps at correct time to address the issues of disability

Sonia Gandhi at SAMARTH-2014: We must include the disabled persons also in the growth process
Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated ‘SAMARTH 2014 - Celebrating Diversity’, a national festival for showcasing the abilities of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) being organized by the Department of Disability Affairs under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi on Wednesday.

“This SAMARTH festival reflects the diversified culture of our country and also our sense of inclusiveness. Our system does provide every one with equal rights. At the same time, we will have to put in more efforts to ensure the rights of the persons with disability”, said the Congress President in her inaugural address. “Development will be complete only if we include the persons with disabilities also in the growth process. It is necessary to make our lives more meaningful,” she continued.
“The handicapped persons must be connected with the social and administrative system and must ensure that they have a role in the development process. In our diverse culture, every person has their own capacity and ability. We must realise that everybody in our country, including the disabled has their own needs and demands. They also must get opportunities to express their talent and potential” added Sonia Gandhi.

“If we take correct steps at correct time, we can address the issues of disability to a great extent and we can also change the mindset of the people towards the disabled persons. We must take adequate steps so that the disabled persons live in confidence even from the childhood and become self reliant” further said the UPA Chairperson.
While concluding her address Sonia Gandhi urged, “I want to urge that one should not keep away the disabled persons from the main stream but must try to ensure their equal participation in social life. Let us take a pledge to continue with our efforts to create a positive environment for the upliftment of the disabled persons so that they also get equal opportunities like others and their rights are protected”.

As per Census 2011, there are 2.68 crore persons with disabilities and constitute 2.22 percent of the total population of the country. The persons with disabilities form a very diverse group and include persons with impairments such as visual (18.8%), hearing (18.9%), speech (7.5%), loco- motor (20.3%), mental retardation (5.6%) mental illness (2.7%) and multiple disability (7.9%).

The Department of Disability Affairs has adopted a multi-pronged collaborative approach involving all the appropriate partners: Governments/UTs, Central/State undertakings, local authorities, NGOs etc. India has also signed and ratified the United Nations Convention for protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Among the many commitments towards the said Convention, a major one is building capacity among people with disabilities and raising awareness about disability issues. SAMARTH is an important step in this direction. The objectives of organizing Samarth are to showcase the abilities and potential of PwDs; create awareness about their rights and entitlements; and provide PwDs and those working for them an opportunity for an interface with each other.

Full text of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s inaugural address of ‘SAMARTH 2014’ festival at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi

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