Mphasis, an Information Technology (IT) solutions provider specialising in cloud and cognitive services; and National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) were recently honoured with the prestigious Zero Project award, for their exemplary work in advocating for a national disability policy which was implemented in June, 2017.
Zero Project is an initiative of the Essl Foundation that focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. The award was jointly conferred to both entities under the Innovation Practices category at the Awards function recently held in Vienna.
While most countries have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ensuring the implementation of these commitments through practical laws and policies is a complex and challenging process. India ratified the UNCRPD in 2007 and the old Act required over a hundred amendments to comply with UNCRPD. It took over a decade to push for appropriate policies and amendments that will safeguard the rights of over 70 million people with disabilities living in India.
Mphasis has been supporting NCPEDP to conduct strong, systematic and sustained advocacy and monitoring, to encourage the Government of India to draft and implement national disability legislation. Through stakeholder meetings, media campaigns and monitoring, NCPEDP brought together people with disabilities and government representatives, resulting in the passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016.
In 2016, both entities achieved a fruitful outcome for their long term campaign when the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed unanimously by both Houses of Parliament. The Bill recognises several new disabilities including intellectual and psychosocial disabilities for the first time, mandates the private sector to develop equal opportunity policies, designates special district courts for fast-tracking cases of disability discrimination, and sets requirements for representation of persons with disabilities in new government bodies.
Dr Meenu Bhambhani, Vice President and Head Corporate Social Responsibility, Mphasis said, “We are both excited and pleased with the recognition we have received for our joint efforts with NCPEDP in successfully pushing the national disability bill to implementation. 4-8% of India’s population has some or the other form of disability. Regulations, legislations and policies play a significant role in including or excluding this population from having access to basic citizenship rights. We are proud to have succeeded in achieving groundbreaking policy changes, implemented by the Indian Government through our sustained and tireless efforts over the last few years.”
According to Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP, “This recognition means a lot to all of us in the disability rights movement. This new law is a game changer comparable with some of the best legislations across the world and that this partnership has been recognised is a double celebration for us. This support from Mphasis in a landscape that is shrinking for self-advocacy and rights has helped us get India on the global disability map and has set for us the way forward for the next many years.”