Celine Lawai receives National Awards for Outstanding Work Done towards Empowerment of PwDs

New Delhi Dec 3: Celine Lawai of Laitumkhrah, Shillong was conferred with the National Award for Best Employee for the year 2019 under the Category Locomotor Disabilities.

The 30-year old Ms Celina is having para-paresis in both lower limbs since birth constituting 90% locomotor disability.

She is a Graduate and has conducted awareness programmes and trainings for persons with disabilities.

She is working as a data entry operator in the Block Development Office of the Meghalaya government.

Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu was the Chief Guest at the function on “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” organized by the DEPwD, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in New Delhi on Tuesday.

He conferred the National Awards on individuals, institutions, organizations and State/District for their outstanding achievements and work done towards empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).

Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot presided over the function in the presence of Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Krishan Pal Gurjar, Ramdas Athawale, and Rattan Lal Kataria.

Addressing on the occasion, the Vice President said that it was a pleasure for him to be present on this occasion of presentation of National Awards for the empowerment of persons with disabilities on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The name of this ‘Day’ should have been the International Day of Persons with Special Abilities.

“We have many of these remarkable men and women with special abilities amidst us who have excelled in a number of fields. Given the right kind of environment and opportunities they can make immense contribution to the cause of nation building. Today, some of these great achievers are being honoured for their achievements,” he said.

He said that India has one of the highest numbers of people with disabilities globally. According to the Census of India 2011, there are 2.68 crore persons with disabilities in the country, which constitutes 2.21% of the population. This number may still be higher as many persons, specially because those with mental health issues often hide them due to social stigma attached to these ailments.

The Vice President emphasised the need to study and analyse various dimensions of disability comprehensively and need to identify the causes of disability and find ways to deal with them so that each individual is empowered to live a life of dignity.

There is an urgent need to provide right nutrition and care to pregnant mothers and young children and also create good and accessible medical facilities across rural India. Early identification of disability is also important. This would enable us to undertake effective interventions from the beginning for rehabilitation measures and empowerment of the affected persons. There is a need to harmonize the immunization and disease prevention programmes with appropriate rehabilitatory models at least at the District level.

He opined that the major challenge that people with special abilities face is the society’s attitude towards them. People often see a person with disabilities as an object of ‘sympathy’ and ‘pity’. This leads to a low self-esteem. What is needed is not ‘sympathy’ and ‘pity’. Rather, it is ‘empathy’ and ‘support’ that are required. It was this feeling of respect that underlies the new nomenclature given by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi when he called the disabled ‘Divyang’ replacing the old word of ‘Vikalang’.

The Vice President said that the Government has taken a number of initiatives to systematically address the challenges faced by the persons with disabilities. The Government amended the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016.

This has created a very progressive ‘right-based’ framework for the welfare of differently abled brothers and sisters. The quota of reservation for persons with disabilities has been increased from 3% to 4% in government jobs and 3% to 5% in higher education institutions.

He said that in order to develop a common language and communication for hearing impaired in the country, the Government has established the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre. The institute has already created a sign language dictionary of more than 6000 words and is working towards developing a standardized Indian Sign Language. The Government is also in the process of implementing a Unique ID project to create a national database of all persons with disabilities in the country for taking Government benefits to every deserving person.

In his address, Thaawarchand Gehlot said that in all, 850 applications were received, and out of that, the Screening Committee selected 65 persons, whom the Vice President has conferred with National Award.

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