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Disabled protest being bypassed in budget
July, 25th 2009

Suffering from muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder which weakens the muscles, 14-year-old Mohammad Ibran fought hard for getting admission in a neighbourhood school in Seelampur slum area. Reason: His disability certificate was not made even though his hands and legs are completely crippled.

"It was only after intervention by an NGO I was allowed. I am in class VII but in my condition, I need better facilities. My wheelchair is broken. I want that my rights as a disabled person to be recognized by the government,'' exhorted Mohammad, who loves maths and drawing.

He was among the 80 disabled people who had gathered outside finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's residence on Friday for a symbolic protest against the government for ignoring disability issues in the recently announced Union Budget. But the protest was soon called off as the finance minister promised to hold a meeting with the activists.

"Our intention was to get the government attention, which we managed. The finance minister has invited six disabled delegates to meet with him,'' said Javed Abidi honorary director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) & Convenor, Disabled Rights Group (DRG).

"There was a promise to develop a national centre for development of universal design and barrier-free environment, a sign language research and training centre, a national captioning centre and a school of up to Class 12 for the deaf in every state and a degree college in every zone. None of these were mentioned or announced by the finance minister in his speech,'' said Abidi.

"We had high hopes from the Budget but Pranab Mukherjee's proposal to increase the deduction limit from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh in respect of maintenance, including medical treatment of a dependent who is a person with severe disability was disappointing. The proposal is hardly indicative of government's inclusive approach,'' he added.

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