Vision Impairment & Correctable Disabilities

Magnitude of The Problem

Magnitude of The Problem

HERD Foundation works periodically through affiliated medical institutes for correction of disabilities. In the past we have done far-reaching work on lip-cleft surgical repair interventions. We are now keen on working on vision impairment for teaching communities to maintain eye health. We look ahead to embrace the challenges in this connection that hopefully will serve in servicing people with vision disabilities.

We reinforce positive attitudes to look on persons with visual impairments to be included for these services. In the hope of creating user friendly approaches for people with visual impairments we have been ruminating to understand that very many visual disabilities are correctable conditions. This would mean we could promote an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

HERD Foundation visualizes doing this in three ways. We are working on partnerships that support medical care for vision disabilities and for prevention of conditions lead to impairments. We will improve access to healthcare, education and rehabilitation services for people in need of vision care. We want to be part of efforts that mainstream visual disability in all aspects and to empower persons with these disabilities.

It is on humanitarian grounds that HERD Foundation wishes to take an active role in the communities through their inclusion for such development projects, and to involve them in all such initiatives that will benefit them. Disabilities can thus be addressed by good Samaritans to benefit people facing barriers in finding solutions to their vision related health problems.

Our hope is to assist disadvantaged people suffering from impairments. It is really essential to help such people as they do not know that they can be treated and rediscover the full potential of their limitations. This means that HERD Foundation will offer support and play a role in breaking down prejudice towards people with disabilities.

Imagine a situation where a person with correctable visual impairment is further disabled by the attitudes of others around him. Such people can be readily treated rather than facing isolation, mistreatment and maybe even ridicule. HERD Foundation seeks to improve access to eye care, eye-care education and rehabilitation services for persons with visual impairments. We want to mainstream this disability in all aspects of empowerment for the afflicted persons.

Facts about Visual Impairment:

  • Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired due to various cases; 39 million of them are blind.
  • 121 million are visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Almost all of them could have normal vision restored with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
  • 90% of visually impaired people live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • 51% of all blindness is due to age-related cataract, the leading cause of blindness. (Statistics taken from World Health Organization website)
Visual Impairment

Visual Impairment

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Gondwanaland: Our Land – Our People

Adivasis Rights

                                      Tribal Futures At Stake

Central India as we all know is home to Adivasis or aboriginal tribes who are rightly ascribed as India’s first people. The land here is home to India’s richest concentration of natural resources. In recent years national and international market forces have been trying to gain control over land, water, forest and mineral wealth of the region. This exploitation has affected the well being of indigenous and marginalised community’s dwelling here.

It is very important to preserve the land as well as the people who reside here as they are part of the larger anthropological legacy that we have inherited. The Pangaea continent called Gondwana was so named by Austrian scientist Eduard Suess, to really venerate the Gondwana region of central northern India. The term comes from the Sanskrit Gond-Vana meaning ‘Forest of the Gonds’.

The now well-accepted theory of the continental drift tells us that during the Jurassic age, Gondwana continent began to break up by accompanying massive eruptions of basalt lava from East Gondwana, Antarctica, Madagascar, India and Australia and had Africa separating off in another direction resulting in open marine conditions. In time even East Gondwana began to separate when India began to move northward.

The Indian Plate collided and buckled with Asia to create the Himalayas. Even today, they say, the Himalayas are rising by an inch every year! The theory of the continental drift and tectonic plates tells us of movements of the Earth’s continents as also the ocean beds. The continuity of glaciers, deduced through glacial striations and tillites deposits suggested the existence of the supercontinent of Gondwana that was central to the concept of continental drift.

The present locations of the continents had previously been in dramatically different places and had also been contiguous with each other. The Gonds are the most important of the non-Aryan or primitive tribes of the Central India region and are important human species. They have been vividly described in the book ‘The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India–Volume I’ authored by R.V. Russell. The book includes their description in great detail with regard to social customs, information on villages, houses, dress, food and manner of life.

Modern day India seems to have abused the living situation of its aboriginals and merely given lip service to their right over their land. They have involuntarily been forced to acquiesce to their holdings over their land for both rightful and wrongful reasons. Whether it is in the name of conserving forest tracts or allowing greedy corporations to mine minerals (hand in glove with governments), the Adivasis rights to their land has been compromised for the longest time. Only until very recently after the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) passed in 1996 (a very important piece of legislation for Adivasis) have we established special provision for tribal peoples under such scheduling.

This Act extends to the Panchayats of tribal areas of nine states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan. The Act intends to enable tribal society to assume control, preserve and conserve their traditional rights over natural resources. However PESA has been grossly violated and not upheld by many states, especially the minerals and natural resource rich areas. Market forces continue to unleash their onslaught on land grabbing for lucrative earnings.

The Adivasis are experiencing great disillusionment not only by state governments but with the Government of India too. We are not able to contain corporate greed nor to understand that natural resources are the tribals customary rights, their right to life and livelihood to which they have full constitutional right. Corrupt corporations join hands with corrupt states to continue to destroy India’s vibrant natural heritage and mineral wealth.

Tribals Rights

                       Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act

August 9, International Day of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples Logo

International Day for World Indigenous Peoples Logo

“The interests of the indigenous peoples must be part of the new development agenda in order for it to succeed… Together, let us recognize and celebrate the valuable and distinctive identities of indigenous peoples around the world. Let us work even harder to empower them and support their aspirations. “

~~ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

August 9, demarcated as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was proclaimed as such by UN General Assembly that set aside the day for the well being of the world’s indigenous peoples. The second decade of this special day celebrates the thematic aspiration “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” This year’s focus aims at “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples”.

The first “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” will be held on 22-23 September 2014. The meeting will be an opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, including pursuing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The objective of this year’s theme will highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programmes at both the national and international level.

HERD Foundation recognizes the importance of Article 366 (25) under Constitution of India, that defines our indigenous peoples as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342”. Article 342 prescribes the procedure for specification of a scheduled tribe that offers the oft-used criterion to identify such indigenous groups based on attributes like –

  • Geographical isolation – tribes living in cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hills and forests.
  • Backwardness – their livelihoods based on primitive agriculture, low-value closed economy with a low level of technology leading to poverty, and having low levels of literacy and health.
  • Distinctive culture, language and religion – communities have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion.
  • Shyness of contact – having a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people.

The Gond tribes settled in our parts comprise of the dominant tribal populations and they used to be largely concentrated in the hilly, forested tracts of the state. Gradually however our tribal people are being absorbed and are being included in urban mainstream population. There are said to be about 50 sub-groups of Gond tribes that inhabit much of the central parts of our country. They are known to be of Dravidian lineage linguistically and racially are said to belong to Proto-australoid stock.

The Gonds migrated in Central provinces from the south through Chanda and Bastar in 14th century where they established the Gond kingdom. The present city of Nagpur was founded at the beginning of the 18th century by the Gond Raja, Bakht Buland. They were warriors but are now tillers and animal grazers. They remain largely subjugated to low status and rural populations remain isolated.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs set up in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment provides a focused approach on the integration of indigenous peoples of India with a view to develop their socio-economic positioning. The tribal departments are all working in a coordinated and planned manner to implement the overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for development of ST’s. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs remains the nodal Ministry for the welfare and activities for the development of indigenous peoples of India.

Tilling the Land

The Gonds Today