Gangtok, 3rd December (IPR): Every year on this day, the United Nations observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. Likewise, Sikkim also celebrated The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 2020 in a grand manner at Manan Kendra, today.
This year’s theme was “Not all Disabilities are Visible.” The program was organized by the Social Justice & Welfare Department.
Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Also present at the program was Dy. Speaker (SLA), Shri. Sangay Lepcha, Hon’ble Minister for Social Justice & Welfare Department Shri M. K. Sharma, Member of Parliament Shri Indra Hang Subba, Cabinet Ministers, Political Secretary to HCM, MLAs, Chief Secretary, Heads of Departments, HODs, Senior officials and staffs of the various departments, representatives from various NGOs, Organization, students and teachers from in n around Gangtok.
Chief Minister, Shri Prem Singh Tamang, appreciated the efforts of social workers who serve the disabled children of the state and expressed an honor on being part of the first state-level celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. He said that a man is never disabled if he has the desire to achieve his goals which was proved by the talents shown by disabled children during the program.
Chief Minister assured that no stone would be left unturned by the State Government towards supporting disabled persons and NGOs who support them. He also highlighted the state government’s commitment towards following the mission laid down by the Government of India and work towards the empowerment of differently able persons through various Acts, policies institutions, organizations and schemes for their rehabilitation. Also to create an enabling environment that provides such persons equal opportunities, protects their rights, and enables them to participate as independent and productive members of society.
Chief Minister made an announcement for differently-abled children which includes incentives for class X and XII toppers (1st- Rs. 35,000, 2nd- 25,000, 3rd- 15,000) from next year. He also made another announcement where Substantial Allowance of Rs. 1,000 received by disabled employees would be raised to Rs. 1,500. And that the Substantial Allowances would be renamed as Chief Minister State Disability Pension for people with 40 to 80% disabilities.
Minister Shri M.K.Sharma while addressing the gathering said that today was special to be focused on the people with disabilities living in the shadows. Talking about this year’s theme “Not all Disabilities are Visible.” he shed light on invisible disabilities like psychiatric problems, brain injury, learning disability, schizophrenia, severe depression, epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, etc. Further, he talked about the ignorance of these kinds of invisible disabilities in our community and the need to focus on such issues and spread awareness and understanding of disabilities. It also means that a person is not inherently ‘disabled’ – disability is not a feature of a person, he added.
Secretary cum State Commissioner, SJ&WD Shri Tshewang Gyachho earlier briefed on a special day about the present status and implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016. He stated that the Act is all about the Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons. Non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity.
He apprised everyone about the eighteen thousand people in Sikkim with special needs out of which 39% have hidden disabilities. Also, expressed joy to see three special schools in the state i.e. Namchi, Syari and Sichey which are doing well in taking care of children with special needs.
During the celebration, there were motivational speeches given by Mrs. Uma Mukhia, PGT, History and Mr. Bikram Bhattarai. Uma Mukhia shared her own personal story about disability and removing all types of barriers throughout her life.
A felicitation ceremony was conducted where differently-abled were felicitated namely Mrs. Uma Mukhia, Miss. Sonam Diki Bhutia, Mr. Bikash Tamang and Mr.Joseph Subba who had achieved academic, sporting and professional achievement despite facing challenges due to their disability.
The celebration also saw a distribution of Aids and Appliances, Distribution of Unique Disability ID Card, aids to the School Toppers (Children with special needs), an incentive of One Lakh (Rs. 50,000 from department and 50,000 by Chief Minister) to Schedule Cast Beneficiary for setting up small business enterprise.
One time Grant of Rs. 2 Lakhs was also given to the marriage with Persons with disabilities.
A book titled “Path to Progress- A Glimpse” was also launched by the Chief Guest and other dignitaries.
Earlier, the cultural programs were also organized by the Special Children from Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Institute for Visually Impaired, Namchi, Special School for Children with Disabilities, Shyari and Special School for Speech and Hearing Impaired, Sichey. A ‘Film on Disability’ was also showcased by the IPR Department.