Elderly Battled High Susceptibility to Covid; Transgender, Disabled Population Suffered Its Social Repercussions in year 2021
The current situation in the country is compelling this marginalised community, estimated to be around 4.88 lakh, into extreme distress and acute shortage of basic needs like food and health.
Members of the transgender community were critically affected by the pandemic majorly because of serious disruption of livelihoods.
With a killer second wave of Covid battering the country in 2021, the elderly battled high susceptibility to the virus while transgenders and disabled population suffered its social repercussions which prompted the social justice and empowerment ministry to come up with several initiatives and programmes during the year. Growing demand for caste based census also kept the ministry on its toes.
Members of the transgender community were critically affected by the pandemic majorly because of serious disruption of livelihoods. The current situation in the country is compelling this marginalised community, estimated to be around 4.88 lakh, into extreme distress and acute shortage of basic needs like food and health. Their situation improved in the beginning of 2021 but with the brutal second wave, they again lost all their means of livelihood.
As people facing mental health problems do not feel comfortable about seeking help due to the stigma around it, a free helpline for distressed transgender persons owing to the pandemic for psychological support and mental health care was announced by the ministry. A senior official said the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment being the nodal ministry for transgender welfare decided to provide a subsistence allowance of Rs 1,500 to each transgender person as immediate support to meet their basic requirements.
On the other hand, the elderly not only battled high susceptibility to Covid but also struggled with social isolation and loneliness due to the pandemic. In order to address the problems of elders in the context of the pandemic, the ministry started statewise call centres in major states under the ELDERLINE project. While the facility was made operational in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it was already working for more than a year in Telangana.
Also in order to ensure a dignified life for the elderly, the ministry launched the Senior Able Citizens for Re Employment in Dignity (SACRED) portal, bringing the employment seeker, senior citizens and employment providers on one platform. Along with Bihar, several political parties of Maharashtra and Odisha sought caste-based census.
But the ministry told the Supreme Court that conducting caste census of backward classes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome” and called exclusion of such information from the purview of Census is a “conscious policy decision”. The government set up Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre to promote empowerment of hearing-impaired persons and to create sign language in the country. The institute, among other functions, is preparing sign language dictionaries that have so far included more than 10,000 words.
The ministry official also said that the government is implementing a unique disability identity card project with the objective of creating a national database for people with disabilities. So far, over 64 lakh such cards have been prepared in 713 districts. The government is also establishing a centre for disability sports centre at Gwalior which will be completed by mid-2022.
The official said the main challenge of 2022 for the ministry will be to tackle the repercussions of the pandemic on the transgender, elderly and disabled population and helping them get back on their feet.
Courtesy : News18
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