Indian parathletes lose out in Commonwealth Games fiasco

posted Sep 15, 2010, 12:23 AM by Suresh P   [ updated Sep 15, 2010, 12:46 AM ]

The National UAE / September 14. 2010 9:46PM GMT

Disabled Indian athletes protest against the Commonwealth Games at the sports ministry in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI  Disabled athletes in India say chronic mismanagement of their sports has left many of them without decent equipment, training or preparation before next month’s Commonwealth Games.

The government has admitted that only about 50 million Indian rupees (Dh4m) have been spent on preparing disabled athletes for the Games, out of a budget of 138m rupees. In at least two events – the men’s and women’s 1,500-metre races – India is not expected to field a single contestant because training wheelchairs were not acquired in time for the Games, which begin on October 3.

The Paralympic events are part of the overall programme of the quadrennial event, the third-largest multi-sport event in the world, after the Summer Olympics and the Asian Games. One of India’s leading medal hopes is the 29-year-old swimmer Prasanta Karmakar, ranked third among Asian swimmers. He says he has received hardly any support from government bodies in attending international events. “In August, I attended the World Championships in the Netherlands with one other swimmer. Up to the very last moment, the government had been saying we would have to pay for the trip ourselves. In the end, they paid for our flights, but we had no coach or manager with us, no food or water supplies, and when we arrived we found they had not even booked the hotel room they promised.”

Similar stories are heard from other disciplines. India’s No 1 disabled table-tennis player, Pawan Sharma, says he has missed many tournaments because of lack of funding.

“There are very few opportunities to go out in the world and improve my ranking,” he said. “Athletes need exposure and proper training, but our national body just isn’t interested.” A low point for Sharma came in 2002 at the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, when he was provided with only one team T-shirt, which was white. He was forced to remove it by the referee since white T-shirts clash with the colour of the ball.

“I was the only player without their country’s name on my shirt. It is only a small thing, but it was very shameful and it says a lot about how we are treated,” he said.  He trains 27-year-old Suvarna Raj, who hopes to make the final three for the Commonwealth Games. She abandoned the government training programme this year after finding a lack of basic equipment.  “There were no wheelchairs, no proper tables, not even new bats and balls,” she said. “We got no support whatsoever, so I gave up and got private coaching through a sponsor.” Along with her husband, Pradeep, a successful table-tennis player and activist for disabled people’s rights, Raj is determined to highlight what she claims is corrupt and ineffective management by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).

“The government gives the money to the PCI, but they do not provide us with anything,” she said. “When I tried to complain to the Ministry of Sports, the coaches told the other players not to play with me anymore. Most players are too afraid of losing their place to make a complaint.”

The PCI denies any wrongdoing and says it is dependent on the government to clear funds.

“From the beginning, there was no proper coordination of the budget by the sports department,” the PCI president, Rathan Singh, said. “No proper messages were sent to us and we were only able to utilise a limited amount of the budget.”

Mr Singh said the government has finally agreed to purchase new wheelchairs. “It is coming very late and will not be in time for the Commonwealth Games, but they can be used for all future international events.”

“If there was no money available, then I could understand the problem,” said Javed Abidi, director of the Disabled Rights Group in New Delhi. “But when all this money has been allocated and not spent, there is no excuse. It is appalling. What is missing is basic awareness, sensitivity and understanding on the part of officials. Disability is not on the radar screen in this country.”

Mr Abidi said he faces a constant struggle trying to explain the importance of Paralympic sports to officials. “Ever since the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, disability sports have been an integral part of the event. There are 45 medals up for grabs in these events – the nation’s prestige is linked to disabled sports. This is not known to Indian officials.”

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports says it is in the process of investigating complaints concerning the PCI, but that it has yet to find legitimate reason to take disciplinary action.

“It is true that many of the sports federations in this country have problems,” admitted Rahul Bhatnagar, joint secretary in the Department of Sports. “Many of them are not well managed and this explains why they are not able to spend all of their budget. We are currently investigating criticisms of the PCI and will take action if appropriate, but the important thing is we do not want the athletes to suffer at all.”

Delhi to host conference of world renowned spinal cord injury experts

posted Sep 6, 2010, 10:47 PM by Suresh P   [ updated Sep 6, 2010, 11:15 PM ]

The national capital is all set to host a conference of experts in the realm of spinal cord injuries from around the world.


An International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) spokesperson today said the combined 49th ISCoS, 10th Spinal Cord Society and ninth Asian Spinal Cord Network annual meet will take place in Delhi from October 29-31.  The conference will include lectures by experts on latest research in the field of treatment of spinal cord injuries and ethics in spinal cord injury management among other topics.


A two-day post conference workshop on Comprehensive Management of Spinal Cord Injuries will also be conducted for doctors, therapists, nurses and peer counsellors, the spokesperson added.


Physicians , PhD scholars, students and trade delegates can register themselves till September 16 at

NHRC chief releases book on rights of persons with disabilities

posted Sep 4, 2010, 7:57 AM by Suresh P   [ updated Sep 4, 2010, 8:05 AM ]

New Delhi | September 03, 2010 12:01:13 AM IST

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, on Friday, released a book that focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities.

The book titled "Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities - A guide by Commonwealth Secretariat" was released in the presence of a host of luminaries and key members of the NHRC.

An NHRC release said that it has been deeply concerned about the protection and promotion of rights of persons with disabilities. The Commission is of the view that the persons with disabilities should enjoy all human rights on an equal basis with others. Towards this end, the Commission has adopted a multi-pronged approach which includes redressal of individual complaints, legislative and policy reform, spreading of awareness etc.

The Commission has been involved since the formative stages of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Commission advocated the ratification of the UN convention and finally the Government of India ratified the Convention on 1st October 2007.

As a follow up action, the Commission appointed a Special Rapporteur on Disability related issues and constituted a Core Advisory Group on Disability to advise the Commission on matters connected with and incidental to the promotion, protection and monitoring of the human rights for persons with disabilities.

With a view to assess whether existing Programmes and Policies for persons with disabilities are having the desired impact and to identify gaps in implementation, if any, and to suggest appropriate strategies to deal with them, the Commission organized five Regional review meetings on Disability during 2008-09 in various parts of the country.

The Commission has advocated to the Government of India for the ratification of Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Commission is of the view that the Optional Protocol will strengthen the accountability mechanism and serve as an additional tool for the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Commission reviewed The Copy Right (Amendment) Bill, 2010 from Human Rights perspective and noted that it does not meet the demand of print disabled person. With a view to protect the rights of the print disabled people, the Commission made recommendations for amendments in The Copy Right (Amendment) Bill, 2010 which is being examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

With a view to monitor the implementation of various laws, policies, concerning the rights of the persons with disabilities, Special Rapporteurs, NHRC have been visiting various states. The Commission has also asked all the State Governments to give wide publicity to UNPRCD to create awareness regarding the rights of persons with disabilities.

The book enumerates various provisions of the Convention in a very simple and informative manner. It not only clarifies that States should not discriminate against persons with disabilities, but also sets out the many steps that States must take to create an enabling environment so that persons with disabilities can enjoy real equality in society.

Further, this book is also accessible to the persons with visual impairments. This publication has been released simultaneously at the four centers around the world by the Commonwealth Secretariat. In recognition of the work done by NHRC in the field of protecting and promoting Human Rights of persons with disabilities, NHRC is selected as one of the four institutions for releasing this book. (ANI)

Human tests set for stem cells

posted Sep 3, 2010, 6:18 AM by Suresh P   [ updated Sep 3, 2010, 6:47 AM ]

By Rob Stein, Washington Post, Monday, August 30, 2010

Even as supporters of human embryonic stem cell research are reeling from last week's sudden cutoff of federal funding, another portentous landmark is quietly approaching: the world's first attempt to carefully test the cells in people.

Scientists are poised to inject cells created from embryonic stem cells into some patients with a progressive form of blindness and others with devastating spinal cord injuries. That's a welcome step for researchers eager to move from the laboratory to the clinic and for patients hoping for cures. But beyond being loathsome to those with moral objections to any research using cells from human embryos, the tests are worrying many proponents: Some argue that the experiments are premature, others question whether they are ethical, and many fear that the trials risk disaster for the field if anything goes awry.

"We desperately need to know how these cells are going to perform in the human setting," said John Gearhart, a stem cell pioneer at the University of Pennsylvania. "But are we transplanting cells that are going to cause tumors? Will they will stay where you put them and do what you want them to do?"

Supporters of these privately funded, government-sanctioned tests, including patients' advocates, bioethicists and officials at the companies sponsoring them, are confident the research has been exhaustively vetted. The Food and Drug Administration has demanded extensive experiments in the laboratory and on animals to provide evidence that the cells are safe enough to test in people and hold great promise. ,..   and more in

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Express Avenue – The PC friendly destination in Chennai

posted Sep 3, 2010, 2:04 AM by Suresh P   [ updated Sep 5, 2010, 12:42 AM ]

Express Avenue, south India's second largest mall, is designed keeping in mind the 'shopper-tainment' concept and this green building developed on 11 acres of land has many architecture splendor and has been designed by ace designer, Mohit Gujral.

Designed to global standards, the entire space has been carefully designed so that it is accessible to the physically challenged.

*** Express Avenue provides free wheel chairs for the use of customers with mobility issues. These can be reserved by contacting the Guest Services Desk inside main entrance to Mall.

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