Open House What needs to be done to help, facilitate the underprivileged in their day-to-day living? : The Tribune India

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Open House What needs to be done to help, facilitate the underprivileged in their day-to-day living?

Empower underprivileged to end generational stigma, trauma

Open House What needs to be done to help, facilitate the underprivileged in their day-to-day living?

District administration officials meet leprosy patients and their kin under the ‘Mission Umeed — Ek Zaria’ campaign in Ludhiana.

leprosy eradication not a distant dream

Mother Teresa, who worked to lift leprosy patients from a state of ignominy to help them realise their rightful place in society, once said, “The biggest disease is not leprosy, but the feeling of being unwanted.” In keeping with the work of this saintly figure revered across the world, the Ludhiana district administration recently launched a one-of-a-kind scheme called ‘Mission Umeed -Ek Zaria’ to care for and assist leprosy patients and their dependents. The scheme’s goal is to create job opportunities, provide skill development training and help leprosy patients and their families become self-sufficient. For centuries, leprosy was regarded as a dreaded, incurable disease and those afflicted with it shunned, ostracised and subjected to inhumane treatment. However, the stigma and prejudice around leprosy have been significantly reduced as a result of the availability of effective drugs to cure the disease, access to technology for early detection, and increased societal awareness about it. Today, following successful elimination measures, the prevalence rate of leprosy has decreased significantly to 0.45 in 1000 persons, and the goal of its complete eradication not far. For this purpose, we must assist the district administration in providing much-needed assistance to the underprivileged sections of society through an empathetic, hands-on approach.

Novin christopher

Humane approach

Besides discharging official duties and implementing government policies and programmes, it is our endeavour to provide the much-needed help, support and relief to the underprivileged sections of our society. This initiative, ‘Mission Umeed — Ek Zaria’, is the first in the series of adopting a humane approach towards our brothers and sisters. — Sakhshi Sawhney, Deputy commissioner

Start at ward level, rope in NGOs

This is a good initiative taken by the district administration to take care of leprosy patients, their children and dependents. The district administration must take more steps in this direction, such as the following:

A committee must be formed at the ward level under the supervision of councillors, to look after the underprivileged people and to maintain a record of their dependents and children. There should be free education for the children of the underprivileged. Help from some NGOs must be taken to help this section in the form of financial aid to set up small ventures so they may earn regularly on their own. People of the city must give their free time to listen to the problems of this section of society. The government should facilitate their children’s admission in the schools near them. In each hospital, whether it is a government or private, special provision for treatment should be made for the patients. Wheel chairs or cycles must be donated by the corporate sector to these people under corporate social responsibility. People must come forward to help this underprivileged section of society as they belong to our society and nation too.

Dr mohd saleem farooqui

Most valuable gift is people’s time

This appreciable initiative was taken by the district administration to assist the leprosy patients and their dependents belonging to the under-privileged section of society. Their children must be admitted free of cost in government schools and proper help must be given to them both in kind and monetary terms. One of the most valuable gifts is the people’s time. People must come forward to donate educational resources and their extra belongings like clothes and other useful products. Some career guidance and mentorship classes should be organised for the children. Fundraising campaigns must be organised to help these people. At ward level, leprosy patients from this section must be identified and a report must be given to the district administration for effective dispensing of assistance. Special preference must be given to patients of this section in the Aam Aadmi Clinics. Concession must be given to the patients of leprosy and their dependents in the form of gas cylinders, sewerage and other public utilities.

Farzana khan

Provide schooling, vocational facilities

Ludhiana not only has people affected by leprosy but also many others dealing with profound problems in life. There is a large population of rag collectors in the city. These people collect recyclable waste from the market and streets starting early in the mroning till late evening and earn a paltry amount to feed their families. They continue to be very poor and have been forced into sticking to this inhumane job. Often, their children do the same job and are not able to start with their education. This situation gives a very poor impression of this region to outsiders. This community of ragpickers in the city needs to be cared for urgently. Suitable jobs need to be created for them so that they lead a comfortable life. Their children should be provided with facilities of education. Further, the population in India is increasing at an alarming scale and this has posed several problems for the administration. The immigrant population that pours into this country is very poor and does not even get nutritious food to eat. With the increase in the number of children, there is a rising problem with their education and employability in the long run. Here, more schooling facilities are required for the education of such immigrants children and those of rag collectors. Earning a dignified livelihood in this country should lead to them being properly integrated into the mainstream. It is high time that Ludhiana takes up the matter of creating and providing more suitable and proper facilities of education for such children so that they have a better life in the near future.

Gautam dev

Sustained, persistent holistic approach

Taking care of the underprivileged, especially those with leprosy, demands a multidimensional approach wherein factors like healthcare access, medication availability, education and social economic support should be sustained and persistent. I firmly advocate that the government should prioritise organising specialised seminars aimed at the mental health of the economically disadvantaged in order to empower them. This proactive approach recognises the importance of addressing not just physical health but also the sustainable psychological well-being that may enhance their economic social well-being as there are ample of opportunities out there in the world. As the Chinese proverb goes, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for lifetime.

Harshita vasan

Widen scope of social security

Leprosy is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It can affect the nerves, skin, eyes and the lining of the nose. The symptoms don’t appear for at least a year following initial expore and most common people don’t see the signs until five to seven years have passed. The most common early leprosy symptoms are patches on skin, usually reddish. They may also be numb. This disease, however, does not easily spread from person to person. You cannot catch infection through casual contact such as shaking hands, sitting next to or talking to someone who has the disease. A person with prolonged close contact (for months) with an untreated leprosy patient can catch the disease. Leprosy is a global health problem and its complete pathogenesis is still unknown. Once present in abundance in Europe, the disease disappeared due to advanced nutrition and hygiene across the continent and now, leprosy is very unlikely to become a serious health problem there. But it is still a big problem in India, as India is still contributing about 52 per cent of the new cases detected globally. In India, leprosy is a disease with a high degree of stigma attached to it through centuries. The district administration of Ludhiana has recently launched a special scheme called ‘Mission Umeed —Ek Zaria’ for the assistance of the underprivileged sections of society to raise their living standards. The District Bureau of Employment and Enterprises (DBEE) has been roped in to provide jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities to the needy, as per their interest and requirements. The DBEE would be a nodal agency for the talks and coordinate with all other departments to provide a social security net as per eligibility. The children of leprosy patients have all the right to dream and raise their living standards. There is a need for a school dedicated for these children. The principals of all schools should exempt the fees of children from the unprivileged sections of society. The IEC Campaign (Information, Education and Communication) with the theme ‘Towards leprosy free India’ should be carried out with more vigour with the aim of further reducing the stigma and discrimination against persons affected by leprosy.

RS Sembhi

Need to enforce rpwd provisions

There is a need to make public places, such as schools, hospitals, transport systems and government offices, more accessible and user-friendly for persons with disabilities. This can be done by adopting universal design principles, providing ramps, lifts, signages, tactile paths, assistive devices and other facilities that cater to the diverse needs of persons with disabilities. We need to develop and implement policies that promote inclusive education, ensuring access to quality education for all students with disabilities. Training teachers and educational staff in inclusive teaching methodologies to cater to the diverse learning needs will go a long way. There is a need to create more job opportunities for persons with disabilities and to provide them with adequate training, skill development and support. The government and the private sector should implement the provisions of the RPWD Act 2016, which mandates 4 per cent reservation for persons with disabilities in government jobs, and incentives for employers who employ persons with disabilities. CSR initiatives can also play a role in promoting inclusive and accessible workplaces for persons with disabilities. There is also a need to raise awareness and sensitise people about the rights and abilities of persons with disabilities, and to combat the myths and misconceptions that surround them. This can be done by conducting campaigns, workshops, seminars and cultural events that showcase the talents and achievements of persons with disabilities, and by involving them in decision-making and leadership roles.

Medha Batra

Provide doorstep healthcare, education

Leprosy is an airborne disease that spreads through respiratory droplets. With India observing 100 thousand cases a year, proper diagnosis is important for the right treatment. The district administration has taken a great initiative to look into the care of the underprivileged sections. These sections can be bridged into the mainstream through education, an improved lifestyle, employment and healthcare. Their prolonged generational suffering should come to an end. Either we can add facilities to their world or we can bring them into a world where resources are available. The idea is to empower them and not spoon-feed or restrict them. The youth and the administration can partner to bring education to their doorsteps like the signal schools initiated by Siddhesh Lokare in Mumbai, Initiators of Change, NGO. We can introduce organisations like SHGs to their society, as empowering women will change the situation of their families. The men can be introduced to their potential work, and the children should be given quality inclusive education. The patients should be provided with effective treatment and drug/alcohol addicts should be sent to de-addiction centres. A major differences can be brought about by earning their trust, as this will lead to network building and growth.

Tanvi Aggarwal


In what appears to be a move aimed at preserving and promoting the environment in one of the most polluted cities of the country, the local industry has offered to adopt public parks in Ludhiana. What more needs to be done to preserve and promote clean and green environment in the industrial town?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to [email protected] by Thursday (April 4)

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