Tag Archives: human

The Government’s Motive behind amending the PwDA

On Wednesday, 1st July,2020, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, issued a notice proposing the Amendment of the Right of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016.
It proposed the amendment to decriminalise “minor offences for improving business sentiment and unclogging court processes’’.

Activists have urged the government not to go ahead with the proposed amendments as it will nullify the small achievements gained over the years.
The Shillong Times reported that, “In a joint statement, around 125 disability rights organisations, civil society organisations and activists said they unequivocally register their strong protest against the proposal to “dilute and nullify” penal provisions contained in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.”

The notification issued on Wednesday, stated that the decriminalisation of minor offences will alleviate the risk of imprisonment for actions which do not necessarily have “mala fide intent”.
It also claimed that the risk of jail is a deal breaker for both domestic and foreign investors – which is unwarranted in the post COVID 19 world, in order to revive the economy.

Even after protests, the Ministry is awaiting feedback within 10 days.

The Department’s director, and author of the notification, KVS Rao said, ”The government has undertaken the process of reviewing existing laws, many of which were devised by the British under the Indian Penal Code and had never been reviewed – such as IPC Section 377, which criminalises homosexuality. The Home Ministry has asked many ministries to take a relook at these laws. When this (RPwD) Act was formulated, many IPC Sections were added mechanically, without the consideration of reformulating to keep abreast with the times.
But the notification is simply a call for feedback and observations from the community. The intent is not to harm the community in any way or to pass an amendment which may be detrimental to the rights of disabled persons.”

Rao further stated that the department is considering reducing the penalty or punishments, for offences that are classified as severe but seem ‘minor’ to the ministry.

Disability activists on the other hand argue that the 2016 Act was the result of years of struggle, and came into force after India became a signatory to and ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007.

Dr. Satendra Singh, a Disability Rights Defender, argues that it has been just 3 years since the implementation of PwDA 2016 and rather than acting on the concluding observations of UN CRPD committee, the government is bringing out Penal Provisions Amendment in a pandemic with a 10 day deadline, that will basically dilute the act.

Akhil Paul, a member of the drafting committee for the PwDA, and the founder of Sense International (a charity working with the deaf and blind people of India), says that he can’t support this amendment as it is against the protection of rights of PwD.
He further states,” (Government) shouldn’t be diluting disability rights law for ‘business sentiment and unclogging court processes’

Disability activists have emphasised the fact that softening the penalties will only make public and work spaces unsafe for them.

Section 92 (a) of the Act provides a penalty of imprisonment when a person ‘intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view’.

Vaishnavi Jayakumar from the Disability Rights Alliance, compared the above section with The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and further asked if the government would be able to do away with that.

Jayakumar further said that when a legislation concerns the right of an individual, the proposal should ideally be published in several regional languages widely and people should be given enough time to comment and provide feedback. The proposal has been published in English and ten days have been given for public feedback.

Murganantham Linguswamy, an advocate at the Madras High Court and a disability rights activist argued, “The government is trying to create a conducive business environment at the cost of an individual’s dignity – which is a fundamental right”.
He further stated that the National Crime Record Bureau has not published any statistics regarding offences against the disabled and hence changing legislation without reliable data would be arbitrary.

Since the lived experiences of PWDs cannot be understood by the able-bodied, consulting stakeholders is a critical step while framing inclusive policies. Even the method of notifying the amendment was problematic. In the name of stakeholder involvement, only 7 disability rights organizations.

But this wouldn’t be the first time this year that the government would prioritise economic stability over human rights. In May 2020, the Uttar Pradesh government suspended labor laws for three years, in an attempt to lure more investors in the State.

But now the State is not only denying the PWDs their right to a fair hearing but threatening years of progress that made PwDA 2016 possible.

They are not only patronizing ‘Divyang Politics’ but also are putting ‘Business Sentiments’ before the rights of marginalized communities.
This is not only immoral, but also goes against the Socialist nature of our constitution, which is embedded in our Preamble.

In the end, all we have to ask is this, Is India a Socialist State which will protect the rights of its citizens, or is it just a Capitalist Country masquerading as a Socialist one ?

SAY NO TO DRUGS

On International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we should be more serious about this hazard, that destroys the lives of millions including youngsters.the theme for this year’s anti-drug abuse day Is “Better Knowledge for Better Care”. The main idea behind this theme is to stress upon the need of improving the understanding of the world drug problem.

The day is also marked as an expression of its determination to strengthen action as well as cooperation and achieve the society which is free of drug abuse.Around 35.6 million people across the world are victims of drug abuse, according to the World Drug Report 2020 published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Young adults and teenagers account for the largest share of those using drugs and most of them suffer from HIV, Hepatitis C and other related diseases. Only one out of eight people who need treatment and rehabilitation are able to get it, according to the report.

So many people want to quit but they can’t due to lack of awareness and social stigma. We need to take a step to secure our life and future, this is our responsibility being a citizen of a country .

The revival of Neanderthal: The Return of our ancestor

We, the homo sapiens, now are the most advanced creature compared to our ancestors after a long evolution history dated back around 15 million years ago. Humans belong to the order primates and class Mammalia with our other members like the well-known apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, macaques, orangutans, etc. which originated from 85 million years ago. You might have seen several illustrations of human evolution, as shown below.

The evolution of a man . Courtesy: Britannica Encyclopedia

If you are familiar with the biology subject, you may know the reason. Charles Darwin, the father of evolution in his book, The Origin of Species, mentions about the series of natural selection, the struggle to exist in the world, survive by making proper tools, variation, and changes in the body like shape, color, etc. As a result of mutation and many more factors like genetic recombination, We know the stages of human evolution right from Dryopithecus, Ramapithecus, Australopithecus, Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens Neanderthals and finally Homo Sapiens Sapiens. The closest ancestors were Neanderthals. There were others in the timeline like Homo Habilus and many more, but now researches have found a way to revive the brain of a Neanderthal. By this we can know more about, let’s see how.

The Father of Evolution: Charles Darwin

Neanderthals with a big brain and vast muscular body in size compared to Homo Sapiens. Additionally, a large head was its specialty along with powerful jaws, hunters with the tools used by them were advanced when compared to their ancestors. The researchers at Basel, Switzerland, the neuroscientists specifically grew up small replicas or copies of the brain from stem cells along with the DNA of Neanderthals. We, being a modern man, still may share about 1 to 4 percent similarity in the genes compared to them. This theory holds as the genomes of a European family matched with the reference of a 2010 model of Neanderthal genome by Svante Pääbo, a geneticist.

The following finding helped to generate three-dimensional objects of brain tissues in a petridish used in laboratories. Organoids of these miniature-sized brains are commonly used to test the effects of drugs. This information may help us more to know about the previous lifestyle, the diet of a Neanderthal. Our ancestors had a problem of communication, maybe due to the absence of language as we use today effectively. These brains were grown from pluripotent stem cells using five cell lines to produce brain organoids, leading to single-cell RNA sequencing data to learn more about their cell composition in the past.

The miniature brain cells grown from the stem cells.

We still share some common characteristics with our ancestors, like hair and skin color. Neanderthals and Denisovans genomes were found in caves, depicting they lived around 80 to 120 thousand years ago. This researches in the future may help to find the proper treatment for cancer. Just imagine, for a while, the stem cells are a gift from nature. It’s unique, usually seen during the development of a baby child, and it can generate all different cells right from a muscle cell to the most crucial brain cells. They help to recover the damages formed in the tissues also. The science of cell being so small may amaze you, and it does.

For more details, refer to the PDF: https://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/pdf/S2213-6711(20)30190-9.pdf