Discontinue the Discriminatory Recruitment Policies regarding the Differently-abled

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In the recent decades, the Indian government has been quite boastful about inclusive growth – growing with everyone, growth of everyone. However one can easily see that the differently-abled have been excluded in this growth trajectory. Due to a lack of the necessary infrastructural setup, the access to public and private institutions for the differently-abled is still, more or less, closed, and discrimination in job opportunities against the differently-abled is still prevalent.

While most government offices follow the gazette drafted by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2013/156895.pdf which makes recommendations regarding which categories of the “disabled” are suitable for what jobs, the document is exclusionary and inconsistent on many accounts. There is no post in the document where people with both arms “affected”, and/or people with both arms and both legs “affected” have been deemed suitable for the job. It appears that while people with both arms “affected” have been assumed to be unable to write, people with both arms and both legs “affected” have been assumed to be unable to write and walk/stand/bend. In fact, in the entire governmental setup, including all the various agencies and Public Sector Units, those with four limbs “affected” are universally excluded from even applying for any position. While one needs to test the validity of these assumptions made while making these suggestions, a blanket ban on the job opportunities for these categories (or, sub-categories) on the basis of such assumptions is not justified. A person despite having both arms “affected” might be able to write and a person with all the four limbs “affected” might be able to write and walk. Even for other categories, one can find that there are many posts where some of them have been included and others have not. To exclude a candidate from applying without observing the candidate is not a just policy. A fair policy must allow a potential candidate to apply, be observed in an unbiased manner and to be given a chance to showcase his abilities.

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment does not make recommendations to UPSC and the latter decides its own recruitment policies. Speaking of UPSC, in its recent recruitment notice for CSE Exam of 2017, it has reserved only 27 seats for the differently-abled against a total of 980 vacancies. This is approximately 2.75% reservation where the PwD Act, 1995 entitles the differently-abled to a minimum of 3% reservation in education and job opportunities. Further, as per the gazette drafted by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (http://egazette.nic.in/writereaddata/2017/174290.pdf there are different functional classification and physical requirements for different services. For the Indian Administrative Services, while most categories are eligible, those with four limbs “affected” are deemed ineligible. But there are other services where some categories have been included while others have been arbitrarily excluded. Among many, one surprising fact is the difference in the functional classifications of two services in Grade B, namely, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Civil Service, Gr. ‘B’, and Pondicherry Civil Service, Gr. ‘B’. While the two have the same physical requirements from the candidates, their functional classifications are vastly different. E.g. A person with both arms “affected” would be eligible to apply for the former and not the latter.

The Reserve Bank of India in its recent direct recruitment notice for the posts of Officers in Grade ‘B’ (General) – DR, DEPR and DSIM in Common Seniority Group (CSG) Streams 2017 reserved no seat for the orthopedically challenged against a total of 145 seats for the post of Officer in Grade ‘B’ (General) – DR. This is clearly in violation of the law which provides reservation to all the sub-categories within the PH category. The RBI also excludes the people with both arms “affected” from applying for these positions.

It is clear that discriminatory recruitment policies are followed and laws are violated even by the apex institutions of our country. It is in this backdrop that we must demand the following:

1)      A person should not be deemed ineligible to even apply for any job only on the basis of their physical characteristics. Everyone should get a chance to present their abilities as candidates. This is not a special treatment; it is only a right.

2)      Every candidate must be observed on a case-by-case basis, doing away with all sub categories within the singular category “People with Disabilities” and giving all such people an equal chance to showcase their ability.

3)      A detailed job description be provided for each of the positions in which applications are invited so that candidates themselves can decide whether they are fit for the role or not. Based on the job description, questions pertaining to the candidate’s abilities can be asked in the application form itself.

4)      To make the job description and the requirements from the candidate more specific which would make it clearer to understand. E.g., for certain positions, one requirement is that the candidates should be able to lift. Here, there is no clarity on the dimensions and general characteristics of the objects which the candidates are required to be able to lift.

Finally, it is intuitive that the problem of exclusion of the differently-abled arises from the lack of a suitable environment in the workplace where they can fulfil their tasks independently. This arises from not just a lack of infrastructure but also a lack of empathy on the part of the co-workers in these workplaces in general. It is our endeavour to contribute to the making of a more inclusive workplace and a system more friendly to the demands of the differently-abled.

We believe that the best way to address this issue would be a positive intervention by the central and state governments. We humbly request the Prime Minister Office, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and the respective state governments to look into the matter and do the needful. It is the right to equality in terms of job opportunities which we seek.

Please sign our petition and extend your support if you believe what we seek is right.

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