A colourful cultural programme of blind persons and speeches on the life and works of Lady Helen Keller marked the 129th anniversary of one of the greatest persons with disabilities. More than one hundred persons with visual impairment from the far flung areas of Himachal Pradesh gathered in Kalibari hall of Shimla on 27th June, 2009. The programme was organized by Blind Persons Association with the support of Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (SDRS), Himachal Pradesh. Virender Kashyap, newly elected Member of Parliament was the chief guest, Mr. Ganesh Dutt, Vice Chairman of Himachal Urban Development Authority presided over the function and Prof. Ajai Srivastava, Chairman of SDRS and crusader for the rights of persons with disabilities in this hill state was the guest of honour.
Mr. Shobhu Ram, President of Blind Persons’ Association, presented a memorandum to Mr. Virender Kashyap, Member of Parliament, demanding implementation of various provisions of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 in the state. He said, “Persons with visual impairment are the most sufferer in Himachal Pradesh. The government system lacked sensitivity towards the disabled, particularly the blind.” He appealed the Member of Parliament to take up the problems of the blind with the government and help in getting the solution. He said the bureaucracy never made sincere efforts for the empowerment of the blind.
Prof. Ajai Srivastava said, “Disability is the bigger challenge in the Himalayan States in comparison to other states. Despite that the bureaucracy has been most insensitive and the disabled, including the blind, have to face a lot of problems in every field.” He urged the Member of Parliament to raise questions, with regard to the violations of the rights of persons with disabilities, in the Parliament and take up some crucial issues with the government of India.
Mr. Ganesh Dutt congratulated the organizers of the function and said it was the duty of every section of the society to ensure that the rights of these persons are not violated. He said such programmes bring awareness in the society. He offered his full support to the cause of the blind.
Mr. Virender Kashyap in his address assured every help to the blind persons and said that he would definitely raise the issue in the ensuing session of the parliament. He asked Prof. Srivastava, an expert of disability rights, to provide him some input in this regard so that he could take up the matter at appropriate forums. Mr. Kashyap appreciated the efforts of Blind Persons Association and SDRS in making people aware about the problems being faced by the disabled. He said the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal was paying much attention on the social sector including the disability.
Mr. Sanjeev Sunta, Secretary of SDRS, while welcoming the guests said the disability rights movement was getting momentum in the state.
Earlier, the blind students presented a colourful cultural programme and highlighted the great contribution of Lady Helen Keller, a deaf- blind scholar and reformist of 19th century, in the field of education and rehabilitation of the blind.