INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH

Posted on: April 12, 2013

52-01 == Interview of the Month -- 01

Stuti Narain Kacker
IAS Officer
1978 Batch, UP Cadre

Stuti Kacker is challenged by the enormous task of laying a foundation for the Department of Disability Affairs. Her passion and experience in this domain is a perfect fit for the task. She seems to have got on well with the task in few months time.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:

• 12 years experience in Public Administration with almost 6 years in Rural Development including backward areas like Eastern UP, Bundelkhand.
• 12 years in Industrial Development including 5 years in Sugar and allied industry; 6 years in MSME Sector and Turn around of sick CPSEs.
• 8 years in Social Sectors including Disabilities, Culture and Information & Broadcasting.

MAJOR PORTFOLIOS:

• Secretary, Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, GoI (30th July 2012 to date)
• Secretary, Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE), Department of Public Enterprises, Ministry of Heavy Industries, GoI (Oct 2009 to April 2011)
• Joint Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises, GOI (March 2003to June 2005)
• CMD, The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) & Joint Secretary, Disabilities & Secretary, Safai Karamchari Commission, GOI (June 1998 to
June 1999)
• SDM & Joint Magistrate – Kanpur; Karchana, Allahabad; Allahabad & Pratapgarh, UP (1979 – 1982)

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENTS:

• First Secretary of the newly created Department of Disability Affairs
• Gold medal from U.P.Govt. for achievement of target under Family Welfare programme.
• Represented GOI in the G-77 conference at Georgetown, Guyana, South America. I was elected Vice Chairperson also.

How do you visualise the challenge of the new Department?
The Department of Disability Affairs has been established in May, 2012, less than a year back, under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and deals with issues pertaining to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), who are marginalised amongst the marginalised section of society. As per the 2001 census, there are 2.19 crore PwDs and numbers will be more in the 2011 census report, likely to be published soon. The disabled population is diverse, in terms of their age, gender, disability types, extent of disabilities and their socio-economic conditions. Unfortunately, majority of them are poor, illiterate, unskilled, unemployed and residing in rural, remote and in social conflict areas.
The department has many challenges before it, few pertaining to such PwDs, which are:-
• Early & Timely Identification of PwDs and Prevention of Disabilities,
• To reach all the persons with disabilities (PwDs),
• Provisions of Accessibility & Barrier Free Environment for PwDs,
• Education of PwDs along with skill up-gradation,
• Economic Empowerment of PwDs and
• Creation of an inclusive environment.
Amongst the above, the most important is their economic empowerment for providing them an opportunity to lead a dignified life in the society.

The PwDs are spread countrywide but their distribution is sporadic, as low as two persons with disabilities in 10 sq. Kms in areas such as Arunachal Pradesh which makes it more challenging to reach them in a cost effective manner. So, it is not only their large numbers but their sporadic distribution that also makes the task challenging.

Based on these challenges, what are the priorities and vision of the Department?
Amongst the priorities mentioned, most important is to reach out to them, provide rehabilitation services, and work for their economic empowerment.

Though benefits/concessions are earmarked and reservation in government jobs is provided under ‘The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995′, but to avail them, they need to be identified first and provided with disability certificates. So far, only 39% of PwDs could be issued disability certificate by the concerned authorities in State Governments/UTs. To facilitate disability certification, simplified & decentralised procedure for issuance of disability certificates has been notified by amending the PwD Rules, 1996 on 30.12.2009.

To empower PwDs economically, besides making a provision of 3% reservation (1% each for locomotor, visual and hearing) for employment under central government, entrepreneurship development and self employment is done through National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC). Besides supporting vocational training under Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS), Ministry has also introduced ‘Incentive Scheme for Employer in Private Sector’ since April, 2009, to facilitate job opportunities for PwDs in the private sector. The Department is trying to scale up the activities of economic empowerment of PwDs in collaboration with NGOs, CSR of PSUs and private sector enterprise and their skill development under different schemes of other ministries as well.

To have inclusive economic development of PwDs, their physical access to the built structure, public places, transport, utilities and services, places of entertainments and access to information is needed on priority. Guidelines for Barrier Free Environment for PwDs and accessible websites are framed and need to be implemented countrywide. The department is providing financial assistance for making all public building barrier-free and the government websites accessible, under Scheme of Implementation of PwD Act (SIPDA).
The education of disabled children is a priority of the department and being supported by the department thr

ough GIA schemes under DDRS to special schools run by the NGOs and national scholarships to disabled students. Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship has been launched this year to encourage higher studies by disabled students and being implemented through UGC. In addition, we have advocated “Inclusive education” and reservation for disabled students in education.

Further, to give PwDs right to live with dignity, the existing PwD Act, 1995 is being replaced by a new legislation ‘Draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012”, in consonance with UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Which are the key agencies involved in supporting disability affairs and what has been their role ?
Apart from the Department of Disability affairs under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India, there are 8 National Institutes and various autonomous organisations and statutory bodies under the aegis of the Department of Disability Affairs which are working for the cause of persons with disabilities. All the State Governments and various departments under them are playing an active role in implementation of various schemes of the Govt. of India for empowerment of persons with disabilities. Apart from this, various central ministries also involved in implementation of the schemes of the Ministry. Moreover, various leading NGOs spreads across the length and breadth of the country are also playing a very vital and important role in furthering the cause of persons with disabilities.

However, the tasks of disability sector assigned to the department is huge and multifaceted, therefore, a coordinated approach with concerned ministries, enterprises, NGOs and civil society is essential. Under the PwD Act, 1995; 3% budget under poverty alleviation programmes needs to be spent for PwDs, accordingly; all concerned ministries have been approached and requested to earmark 3% of their budget for activities for PwDs.
Initiatives have also been taken up to explore support of international agencies, corporates and private enterprises.

What is your assessment of the support provided by the Corporate bodies as their CSR activity for Disability Sector ?
The corporate bodies have a significant role to play in the disability sector. Many corporates have come forward and doing community development under CSR in a big way. However, in the disability sector, so far the efforts of the corporates are scattered and needs to be done in a scientific and professional manner for sustainability. Some corporate have come forward but more needs to be done.

How do you assess the possible role of Corporate Engagement in Disability Affairs under their CSR (both Private and Public Sector), which is being induced by the government ?
The PwDs need to be recognised as vulnerable human resource and to be developed as an asset to nation /enterprise. This has been realised in a recent study (Persons with disability & The Indian Labour Market: Challenges and Opportunities) undertaken by ILO. In the report, positive and encouraging results in hiring PwDs have been shown by multinationals like IBM, Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Mphasis. In the service sector, companies like KFC have a special KFC in prime locations with hearing impaired youth; Likewise Shell has some petrol bunks where hearing impaired girls and boys do petrol vending. Titan and Tanishq are hiring disabled in front end retail jobs. In the hospitality sector, ITC, Marriott and Lemon Tree Hotel hire disabled youth. ITC Hotels additionally have been bringing out manuals to facilitate other companies who enter this area. With FDI in retail, new entrants like Bharati Walmart hire disabled youth. Dominos, Pizza Hut, are ensuring that PwDs are hired in their scale up plans. Importantly, companies who hire persons with disability find that there is a clear business case in hiring them – attrition is reduced and productivity is enhanced. The case for hiring PwD is, therefore, not based on sympathy or empathy but for “Business Value”. It is a win-win situation for both the parties.

Therefore, we look towards corporates for economic empowerment of PwDs. Also we would need the help of corporates (under their CSR activities) to take up skilling of PwDs and providing rehabilitation services.
The Department has also introduced an incentive scheme for employment of PwDs in private sector, where EPF and ESI contribution of employer, on employment of PwD (employed on and after 1st April,2008 on a monthly wages up to Rs 25000/pm) is exempted for first three years of employment. The scheme is simple and employer friendly.

In what specific areas, you expect Corporate Bodies to be involved for making a difference on the conditions of PwDs in India ?
The Corporate Bodies may make a difference on the conditions of PwDs in India, by contributing in following areas:
1. By recognising the PwDs as human resource and providing vocational training/skilling them.
2. The Department has established more than 200 District Disability Rehabilitation Centres for providing rehabilitation services which could be adopted by corporates to develop as focal point of activities. NTPC Foundation has come forward and taken over/developing five such DDRCs after gaining an experience with us over last 5-6 yrs.
3. Similarly Corporates may come in many other areas such as providing institutional care for the severely disabled who are incapable of independent living etc.

Any other information, you want to share with the readers of CSR VISION.
The department deals with issues of PwDs who are most marginalised in the society. They are differently abled, invisible but very talented, many a time. Corporates need to be involved in development of an inclusive and for making a barrier free environment needed for PwDs and other vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women etc.

In view of the numbers and nature of problems in disability sector, each and every member of the society needs to be involved in the rehabilitation of PwDs. The perception of society and of PwDs themselves will change affirmatively with the help of Corporates.

3 thoughts on “INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>