The National Institute of Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities, Dehradun (NIEPVD) has announced its decision to close its regional chapters located in Kolkata and Secunderabad. Following this arbitrary decision, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD)
have registered their protest against the decision.
Strongly condemning the NIEPVD’s move, NPRD stated that the closure of such regional centres, formed in pursuit of the country’s commitment to provide equal opportunities to one of the most marginalised and discriminated sections, will impact all the students enrolled there. Not only that, it would also close the doors for all future students from these regions who are looking for courses enabling them to become economically independent.
The NIEPVDs in Kolkata and Secunderabad, established in 1997, are run by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and hundreds of visually impaired students, particularly from poorer economic backgrounds are currently studying there. These students, who cannot afford to join any other special centres due to economic condition or other disadvantages, would be impacted the worst.
NPRD also said that these centres act as distribution points of free aids and appliances for the visually impaired under various government schemes. However, even that stands to be affected by the sudden shutting down of these centres.
They further stated that the closing down of these centres need to be placed in context with the government’s pursuance of the National Education Policy 2020. Since the policy’s thrust is on commercialisation of education and the abdication of the State’s responsibility, the poor and the marginalised will be impacted more adversely.
This move also exposes the double standards of the government at the Centre, which has been making tall claims about its commitment to the disabled and taking it a step further by coining “patronising terms” like divyang, NPRD said.
Requesting the government to roll back the decision, the NPRD has announced that “the West Bengal and Telangana affiliates of the NPRD will be holding demonstrations before the concerned regional centres to protest against this ill-advised regressive move”.