26th May, 2023
Shri Rajesh Aggarwal, IAS, Secretary, Dept. of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India Emphasized on Indigenization of products to cater the need of People with Disability
PHDCCI, today at its headquarters conducted a seminar on the transformative potential of assistive technology (AT) in fostering inclusive growth for persons with disabilities.
Shri Rajesh Aggarwal, IAS, Secretary, Dept. of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India believes people with disability should be the stakeholders of all the discussions and forums dedicated to related policies and Initiatives, as it will bring a lot of value to the whole process.
Mr. Aggarwal pressed on the need to focus more on already existing products and reducing costs rather than keep on inventing new products. By making assistive technology available at affordable prices, we can increase opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in society and the economy, he added.
Mr. Aggarwal said there is a need for the availability of wheelchairs in different locations such as public buildings, and office settings and especially during conferences like today. He further expressed that it is essential to ensure that people with disabilities can access these locations and participate in various activities alongside others. He also made suggestions on making customized wheelchairs available to schoolchildren in varying sizes to promote inclusivity and equal opportunity, as it will benefit the wider community.
Shri Ajay Chaudhary, General Manager i/c, Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), Govt. of India, Informed, even after utilizing 300-400Cr worth of funds we could hardly reach out to 3 lakh beneficiaries in a year, which is just a 1 Percent of the actual population. The real challenge before the ministry and us is to enhance our outreach.
And to reach out to as many Divyangjan as possible we have started opening up of national rehabilitation centres across the country, 20 of such centers are already operationalized against the target of 200 centres in the next 1-2 years. Further concluding his note, he added the use of assistive technology enables individuals with disabilities to live independently, explore their potential, and live a higher quality of life.
Prof. M Balakrishnan, Hony. Professor, CSE Department, IIT Delhi, emphasized on the importance of Innovations in our country, as our country’s environment is different from others and most of the solutions that are available are very costly.
Unfortunately, we have a very large population of people with disabilities, on one hand it is unfortunate but on the other hand from solution developers point of view it is possible to make up for it. Prof. Balakrishnan believes the inclusion is through regulation; hence the regulation requirements are necessary. Further he suggested expansion of government schemes is also needed to cover more inclusivity.
Dr. Ashoo Grover, Sr. Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research in her address note, informed need for Assistive Technology is not limited to PWD, it also covers people with chronic diseases, Older Persons, Injury/Burns/Trauma, Children with NDD & LD, Mental Illnesses, Gradual Cognitive Decline, Post-Infectious Diseases. She further informed, working on the principle of “No One is Left Behind” and “Nothing About Us Without Us” is the overall goal of all the ICMR activities to improve health through functional optimization using evidence based research.
Informing further about the National List of Essential Assistive Products (NLEAP) she added, ICMR has compiled NLEAP with A total of 380 products to be included under healthcare centres. NLEAP is being created on the principal themes of appropriateness, quality, affordability, accessibility and standardization of ATS.
Dr. K Madan Gopal, Adviser- PHA, NHSRC- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, said, any device or system that helps people with disabilities to perform everyday activities can range from simple devices, such as canes and wheelchairs, to complex devices, such as speech-generating software and robotic limbs. They can play a vital role in improving the lives of people with disabilities, by helping them to be more independent and productive. There are over 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide according to WHO. In India, there are over 80 million people with disabilities. The average cost of AT in India is about $1,000 and many people with disabilities cannot afford AT.
Dr. Gopal later added, the Make in India initiative can help to make AT more affordable and accessible to people with disabilities in India as it has the potential to make India a global hub for AT. India has a large pool of skilled engineers and scientists who can develop and manufacture AT. India also has a large population of people with disabilities, creating a large AT market. The Make in India initiative can help to make AT more affordable and accessible to people with disabilities in India and around the world.
Dr. Mohammed Asheel, National Professional Officer (Injury and Disability Prevention), World Health Organization, mentioned, addressing market barriers is the need of the hour, while addressing these barriers we can actively and deliberately shapen the market. The market barriers on both the demand and supply sides limit the access to AT and there are opportunities to invest in market shaping strategies. Market shortcomings can often be observed through the indicators for affordability, availability, assured quality, appropriate design and awareness. Market shaping interventions can help overcome current market related barriers. We should see beyond disability and focus more on functioning, inclusivity and affordability.
Shri Ravindra Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD), said, People with disability are facing many health issues, AT is very critical for discussion and Inclusion of these people and accepting people into these ecosystems. It aids this integration. From the business development perspective, the integration also makes very strong business sense. Collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders are crucial to ensuring that AT is tailored to individual needs and preferences.
Shri Nitin Jain, Co-Chair, New-age Business Committee, PHDCCI; Co-founder, Of Business, said, One of the assistive technology was developed at IITD named as smartcane, it helps individuals with disabilities perform their daily activities with greater ease and independence. PHDCCI is playing a crucial role in promoting it. There are also many Startups & NAB investing and promoting Assistive technology. However, despite the progress made, there is an urgent need for increased accessibility and availability of AT solutions. As society moves towards a more inclusive future, the adoption and utilization of AT solutions are becoming increasingly vital.
The sessions were moderated by Dr. Jatinder Singh, Assistant Secretary General, PHDCCI.
The seminar was sponsored by Artificial Limbs Manufacturing of India (ALIMCO) and supported by PHDCCI annual sponsors, DLF Ltd; Jindal Steel & Power; KLJ Group; Multani Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Marble City; MMG Group; Radico Khaitan Ltd; Uflex Ltd; Vestige; Eazy ERP Technologies; JK Tyre & Industries Ltd; Sagar Group of Industries; Superior Industries Limited; Samsung India Electronics; Oswal Greentech; Apeejay Stya Group; Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products Pvt Ltd; DCM Shriram; R E Rogers; Trident Group; Ajit Industries Pvt Ltd; Bhagwati Plastic and Pipes Industries; Central Coalfields Ltd; DD Pharmaceutical Ltd.; Hindware Sanitary; Jindal Steel; Modern Automobiles; P S BEDI & Co.;
PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry