Prez gives away national awards for disabled empowerment



New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Friday presented the national awards for the empowerment of persons with disabilities in 13 categories, ranging from best differently ables employee to best accessible website.

"The awards are for those individuals and institutions who have overcome enormous odds posed by their disabilities, to excel in various fields," Patil said.

The award, given to 53 people, comprised Rs one lakh in cash, a medal, citation and certificate.

Highlighting that India was was among the first countries to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Patil said, "Our ratification demonstrates our resolve to move forward on the agenda to provide differently-abled citizens with an environment that enables them to participate in the various activities of society".

Underscoring the need to remove physical barriers that do not allow persons with disabilities to access various facilities and services, Patil said, "as a component of their right to education, school buildings should be made free from physical barriers for children with special needs".

Among this year's best employee awardees is Ashish Goyal who turned blind at the age of 9 but went on to acquire an MBA degree from Wharton school in the US. Presently employed as a manager with J P Morgan Chase bank, he is the first blind trader to work with the international firm.

"It is a very special award. Recognition of this kind from the country is just an amazing feeling. Such recognition and encouragement will give others a chance to emulate," Goyal said.

Neha Pawaskar, a blind HAM radio operator, was also awarded in this category as she possesses a rare combination of skill and talent in outdoor sports activities like mountaineering and swimming.

The President gave away the award to the best accessible website to the Ministry of Finance for its effort of making the website easy to access for those with disabilities.

Patil was of the view that besides a robust policy framework, there was a need to have an efficient and effective delivery mechanism and that the state and Central governments must partner with the private sector to create an inclusive society.

PTI