Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Dr Thaawarchand Gehlot virtually launched a 6- month Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Program on rehabilitation of Divyangjan today in the presence of Union Minister of State, SJ&E, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar ; Australian High Commissioner to India, Mr. Barry O’Farrell; High Commissioner of India to Australia, Shri Manpreet Vohra; Secretary DEPwD, GoI , Ms. Anjali Bhawra; and Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University Professor Duncan Maskell . JS, DEPwD, Sh Prabodh Seth and Dr Nathan Gills of Melbourne University were also among those present at the launch event.
Addressing on the occasion, Dr Thaawarchand Gehlot said that persons with disabilities have always been and would remain the priority of Narendra Modi Government. The Central Government has enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016 which envisions a society inclusive of persons with disabilities. The Minister reiterated that PwDs are an important human resource and if appropriate facilities/opportunities are given, they can excel in any field be it education, sports performing/fine arts. It is with this in mind that the course has been developed in collaboration with Melbourne University. This would enable our country to develop trained manpower for rehabilitation and development of Divyangjan to ensure their empowerment and inclusiveness in the society, the Minister explained.
Sh Gehlot added that due to the pandemic situation, the requirement of first hand counsellor/guide for Divyangjan has become further relevant and there is a need to roll out this program as early as possible.
Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar said that the motto of our Government is ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’, which implies ‘development for all and with all’. This reflects the spirit of inclusiveness in our policies and programmes. Thus Divyangjan continue to be in the forefront of our policies to ensure their inclusion and full participation in society. This program will be first of its kind which will create trained manpower in identifying risk cases, apprising the parents/guardians about the nearest early intervention centres, and guiding them for availing Government benefits for Divyangjan. Shri Gurhar added that our Government is open to sharing best practices with other countries and the MoU signed with the Government of Australia for cooperation in disability sector is a step in this direction.
Secretary, DEPwD Ms Anjali Bhawra welcomed the experts from Australia and India who have been instrumental in developing this pathbreaking program. At present there is a shortage of trained manpower to serve as a link between the PwDs, their parents and the community for Government Schemes and Programmes and CBID programme will go a long way in generating trained human resource to carry out the important task, she said. The Rehabilitation Council of India and University of Melbourne have been working on this program since last two years. The Department will involve all the States/UTs in future expansion of this program , the Secretary explained.
Six booklets on course curriculum were also released on the occasion.
The program aims to create a pool of grass-root rehabilitation workers at community level who can work alongside ASHA and Anganwadi workers to handle cross disability issues and facilitate inclusion of persons with disabilities in the society. The program has been designed to provide competency based knowledge and skills among these workers to enhance their ability for successfully discharging their duties. These workers will be called ‘Divyang Mitra’ i.e. friends of persons with disabilities.
The Rehabilitation Council of India intends to roll out the course initially on a pilot basis for two batches in 7 National Institutes of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and 7-9 voluntary organisations having experience in Community Based Rehabilitation programme. Initially the programme will be available in English, Hindi and 7 regional languages, namely, Gujarati, Marathi, Odiya, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil and Garo. The classes for the first batch of about 600 students are expected to commence by August, this year. Mode of training for this course would be both offline/online taking into account, the prevailing COVID scenario.
This CBID course has been co-designed by Rehabilitation Council of India and University of Melbourne as a joint initiative under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Australia and the Government of India on 22nd November, 2018 for cooperation in disability sector. Content and curriculum of the course has been developed by an Expert Committee comprising experts drawn from India and Australia. The National Board of Examination in Rehabilitation under the Rehabilitation Council of India will conduct examinations and award certificates to pass-out candidates.