People with various mental health issues have taken to social media to tell union minister Maneka Gandhi that they can and are working.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Department Maneka Gandhi who is part of a ministerial panel to examine the proposed Disability Bill had raised objections to it saying that the bill does not lay criterion for determination of mentally disabled persons.
"It (bill) does not differentiate between mentally ill and mentally disabled person. But there is a difference between the two. If a person is mentally ill like schizophrenic, how can he be given a job," Gandhi said talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function. She added that the Bill needs to be worked on further before presenting to the Cabinet.
Men and women diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, depression, countered her, posting photos of themselves briefly describing the anguish they go through and how they also come out winning, every day. The campaign called 'We can Work' has pictures of people from various places holding signs, telling the minister that she was wrong.
According to the present law on disability, three per cent reservation for disabled people is mandatory in all categories of government jobs.
In response to Gandhi, Chennai-based group Equals CPSJ put up photos of people with mental health issues who held up signs that said that they had been working for several years after they had been diagnosed with a disorder.
Provisions of the bill
The Bill makes accessibility a mandatory requirement under the law. It proposes entitlement for persons with at least 40 per cent disability to certain benefits such as reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes, etc.
In the case of a mentally ill person, the district court may award guardianship to take care of him and take all legal binding decisions on his behalf in consultation with such person.
The Bill was drafted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and seeks to replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
It imposes a penalty of Rs 10,000 or imprisonment up to six months for violation of any provision of the Act.