Thursday, April 15, 2021

Now, the questions…

Politicians are also products of their milieu ~ hence like all Nagas, our politicians are products of the cultures, customs, traditions, attitudes, mindset, biases, prejudices, chauvinism and discriminations of Naga society. Irrespective of political affiliations, our politicians can be likened to peas in a pod ideologically ~ and at various times, they form this or that Government in the state. There is also very little to differentiate the new and younger ones since they also come from the same milieu ~ although it is possible that they might either get overwhelmed by their seniors or even silenced. However, it is more possible that our cultures, customs, traditions, attitudes, mindset, biases, prejudices, chauvinism and discriminations hold more sway over the new and younger ones than their levels of education and exposure. This may be a plausible explanation as to why the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (RPWD Act 2016), which came into force on April 19, 2017, and all States and Union Territories, including Nagaland, were required to notify the State Rules and implement them within six months of the Disability Act becoming law, is yet to be implemented. It may be recalled that last year on April 25, the Supreme Court asked all States and Union Territories to take immediate steps to comply with the requirements of the Disability Act and file compliance reports, further directing that special courts be set up in each district to conduct trial of offences committed against them within three months. People with Disabilities in Nagaland have reminded us, ~ more specifically our state Government ~ no concrete move towards this end has been made even after more than a year. So they met our Chief Minister on June 20 last, to remind him of the various important disability issues in the state, particularly the imperatives of implementing the RPWD Act 2016. During the said meeting, the disability community also reminded the state Government that despite the old Disability Act 1995 being in existence for more than 20 years, not even a single law contained in it was ever properly implemented in the state by successive Governments. Despite the Supreme Court issuing numerous directives from time to time none have been complied with either, they reminded the Government. So the People with Disabilities in Nagaland are absolutely right that they have remained ignored and marginalised with their rights violated by the State Government and society at large and underscored that this failure cannot and must not be repeated with the RPWD Act 2016. Representatives of the People living with Disabilities urging the Chief Minister and his Government to notify the State Disability Rules and implement the RPWD Act without delay, as committed by the NDPP and the BJP in their election manifestos, is a shame for the Government and people of Nagaland. True, the Chief Minister extended full support and assured that action will be taken, which the disability community appreciated and are looking forward to quick and real action on the ground ~ but very noticeably he didn’t pledge any times-frames or deadlines vis-à-vis his assurances. Now, the questions: why do the Chief Minister and his Government need to be reminded of the aforesaid Act, as also the election manifestoes of his party and allied parties? Why have all our Governments always been extremely insensitive to the needs of our most vulnerable? Why haven’t the Departments entrusted to cater to the needs of our most vulnerable remained silent and invisible all these decades? What are they actually doing to earn their salaries ~ but then again without “political will” to keep them on their toes, who wouldn’t enjoy a nice paid holiday? Why does anybody need to request and urge Governments for their constitutional rights? Our politicians, being products of their milieu, simply find it convenient to look the other way, as much as our society because our society doesn’t like to even accept the existence of our physical and mental disabled hence there is no societal pressure on our Governments. But this isn’t a justification for the Government not to implement constitutional laws because Governments are supposed to lead and govern ~ it isn’t supposed to be led and governed by society, especially society’s biases, prejudices, chauvinism and discriminations. Moreover, Governments are supposed to implement and enforce laws, not society. Simultaneously, unless we, as a society, decide to be human, we will increase the vulnerability of our vulnerable.