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HomeReportWill launch crusade against GST on disability aids: NITI Aayog VC

Will launch crusade against GST on disability aids: NITI Aayog VC

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Rajiv Kumar says revenue loss to government can’t be much after Nipman Foundation’s Nipun Malhotra points out that disability aids are basic needs.

New Delhi: NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar has said that he will launch a crusade against GST imposed on disability aids.

“Something needs to be done there. I’ll take it up as my own crusade because I’m sure the revenue loss (to the government) isn’t going to be so much,” Kumar said at the fourth edition of the Nipman Foundation’s Microsoft Equal Opportunity Awards in the capital on Thursday evening.

Kumar was responding to Nipun Malhotra, the founder of Nipman Foundation, who spoke about government policies not keeping the interests of the disabled community in mind. Citing the recent GST reform as an example, Malhotra said that taxing disability aids is unfair as these are basic necessities.

Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, Niti Aayog speaks at the awards. Photo by Sajid Ali Mir

Drawing attention to what is seen as the society’s tendency to prioritise individuals over the community, Kumar said that the Indian elite needs to take charge of its social responsibility and start doing things for the welfare of the persons with disabilities (PwDs).

Started by the Nipman Foundation in 2014, the Equal Opportunity Awards have become the leading platform not only to recognise private sector companies who hire PwDs, but also those that are innovating in the fields of accessibility and inclusion.

Keynote speaker at the event was Alok Lall, director, Office Business Group, Microsoft India. He presented technologies like project Emma, a Microsoft wearable that helps counteract Parkinson’s tremors.

“Hiring (of minority communities) is still largely an HR agenda which is falling as a CSR activity. Companies want to come out as appearing to be an equal opportunity employer, rather than looking at it as something which will contribute to growth, innovation, and profits,” Sanjay Modi, managing director, APAC and Middle East, monster.com, said at a panel discussion at the event.

Rama Lakshmi, opinion and social media editor of ThePrint, said the role of the media in spreading awareness must start with changing the language of disability, from one of “pity and charity” to a more enabling and equal discourse.

This year the awards have expanded their umbrella of issues from people with disabilities to all communities that face marginalisation and discrimination. The LGBTQ movement was discussed as an example of the success of mobilising voices as a collective to lobby for progressive change.

Apsara Reddy, transgender activist and national spokesperson of the AIADMK, said, “We need to stop using the employment of members from the LGBT community as hollow tokens of diversity, and must start judging individuals on the basis of their individual merit, irrespective of their gender.”

Apsara Reddy, National Spokesperson AIADMK and transgender activist speaking at the panel discussion. Photo by Sajid Ali Mir

The awards are seen as taking a significant step towards creating a dialogue with the private sector to acknowledge the business case for inclusivity. This year, the awards went to Aegis Customer Support Services Pvt. Ltd. (Employment), Amba (Non-Tech Innovations), Jellow Communicator Team (Tech Innovations), and Danish Mahajan and Divyanshu Ganatra (entrepreneurs with a disability).

To read more about the foundation, the awards, and the winners, visit https://www.nipmanfoundation.com/

ThePrint is the Digital Partner for the event.

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