The Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that people with special needs require empathy and not sympathy. He was addressing the gathering after presenting the 72 National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, here today. The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, the Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Ramdas Athawale, Shri Vijay Sampla, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.The Vice President stressed the need to change societal norms through intensive awareness campaigns to remove the stigma attached to disability. He further said that the society has a duty towards fellow human beings to make them lead good quality lives with dignity. One must learn to recognize the valuable human assets we have in persons with disabilities, he added.Calling upon the people to rededicate to the cause of less fortunate, Shri Naidu stressed the need to provide appropriate career and life-enhancing policies and measures to boost their self-confidence so that the people with special needs can lead a dignified life.
He further said that a number of actions with speed and sincerity were needed to build an inclusive society. Government has taken a number of initiatives to systematically address the challenges that they face, there is still a long way to go, he added.Saying that the guarantees the equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals, including Persons with Disabilities, Shri Naidu said that legislations such as the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 focuses on various key elements of empowerment of persons with disabilities. He called upon the States and Union Territories to effectively implement the Act so that the persons with disabilities get the desired benefits at the earliest.The Vice President said that early identification of disability and effective interventions were important in providing care to those in need. He stressed the need to harmonize the immunization and disease-prevention programmes with appropriate rehabilitation models and added that children in the susceptible age groups should be given access to better health care and nutrition to prevent occurrence of disability.
Stressing the importance of Education in empowerment of every person including persons with disabilities, Shri Naidu opined that the provisions of the Act have to be strictly implemented to ensure that children with disabilities have access to school education with proper pedagogical support. Our education system has to be re-invented to create inclusive educational opportunities and we have to use technology creatively to make this possible, he added.Shri Naidu said that policy makers and planners must be aware of the infrastructural requirements of persons with special needs and create accessible environment. He said that increasing access to public facilities must be priority area given the size of the existing infrastructure and added that such gigantic task require support of all stakeholders for developing barrier-free environment for the Persons with Disabilities be it in the physical infrastructure, transportation sector or the ICT ecosystem.Shri Naidu also urged the corporate and the private entities to include in their CSR activities the development of infrastructure accessible to persons with disabilities.