Pre-matric Scholarship Scheme: The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry was in limelight this year for limiting the coverage of pre-matric scholarship for OBC students and establishing a commission to look into the matter of providing scheduled Caste status to religious converts who were 'historically' SCs. However, the ministry is facing backlash due to its decision of limiting the pre-matric scholarship scheme meant for OBC and minority communities to students of Classes 9th and 10th.
Previously, the pre-matric scholarship was meant for the education of students from classes 1st to 8th and those belonging to the minority community. Recently, the ministry also appointed a commission headed by former CJI K G Balakrishnan to inspect the matter of giving Scheduled Caste status to people who claim to that belong to the SCs "historically", but then converted to a religion other than those mentioned in the presidential orders.
Accessibility Remains Major Problem For Physically Challenged
For those who are physically challenged, accessibility seems to be a major obstacle like every year. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 provided a time of 5 years for making all present public buildings accessible to the disabled by June 14, but out of the total 2,839 buildings, 585 state buildings and 1,030 central government buildings have been made barrier-free for the disabled.
What is done for Visually Impaired?
Those who are visually impaired, a total of 500 academic words in Indian sign language were launched this year for them. They are being used at the secondary level in history, science, political science, and mathematics.
Also, an ISL dictionary app called Sign Learn was launched which is available in both Android and iOS versions. Indian Sign Language Research And Training Centre had signed an MoU with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to convert NCERT textbooks from Class 1st to 12th into Indian Sign Language (digital format) to make them accessible to children having hearing disabilities.ISL e-content of NCERT textbooks for class 6th was launched this year.
People with Disabilities department also signed an agreement with Amazon and Flipkart to create a structured skill development mechanism for mainstreaming of PwDs into the mainstream economy.
Few Govt. Initiatives Remain Unsuccessful
Some initiatives of the ministry did not go at the expected rate. It includes the government’s employment platform for the elderly, Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity (SACRED), which the former secretary of the ministry publicly accepted that is not functioning “very well”.
Also, the Sugamya Bharat app which aims to enable people with disabilities and the elderly to register accessibility-related problems in buildings, in modes of transport, or any infrastructure by uploading pictures on it has been receiving complaints that are not being considered or resolved by the states.
As per the RTI filed by PTI, around half of the complaints were pending resolutions till August with states and Union territories. There were a total of 1,009 complaints received through the app till August and 509 complaints were pending resolution at the state/Union territories authorities concerned.
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