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Political Inclusion of Differently abled via suitable Infrastructure

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    14th Oct, 2022

Context

Recently, a petition admitted by the Supreme Court that called for the introduction of ITTS technology to allow blind voters to verify their votes has set off a debate, with some disability rights activists raising concerns over the practical issues that may crop up.

About

The present method

  • At present, a blind voter could vote with the help of a companion who would be able to read the VVPAT slip or vote on their own using the Braille signs on the EVM, but not be able to verify the vote.
  • This method raised issues of autonomy and secrecy.

Voters with disabilities

  • Voters having one of the 21 disabilities, mentioned by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, are termed as voters with disabilities.
  • The 21 disabilities include blindness, low vision, dwarfism, locomotor disability, intellectual disability, mental illness, among others.
  • According to the 2011 Census, there are about 2.68 crore disabled persons in India, of whom about 50 lakh persons have disability in seeing.
  • But their votes carry just as much importance as any other. 

Barriers to electoral participation for PwD category

  • inadequate or inaccessible voter education
  • difficulties in voter registration and physical access to polling stations
  • inability to vote independently and privately
  • absence of or inappropriate assistance from poll personnel

How ITTS software can help?

  • It is a stand-alone, real-time system to capture the image of the paper slip generated by the printer in VVPAT, extract text from it and convert the text into speech that can be listened to through the headphones. 
  • The ITTS device consists of four main components:
    • Camera
    • programmable system (optical character recognition software and text-to-speech engine)
    • headphones
    • battery

Constitutional Rights:

  • Article 41 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) states that State shall make effective provision for securing right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of its economic capacity and development.
  • The subject of ‘relief of the disabled and unemployable’ is specified in state list of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.

Possible Impacts:

Positive

Negative

  • Help PwD to enhance their political participation.
  • Entertain their will and problems associated to them will be addressed by the representatives they choose.
  • Increase confidence and people comfortable with them in the society.
  • Machine malfunction 
  • Technology failure can become a cause of concern for people’s criticism.
  • Lack of training module for PwD regarding technology.
  • Stakeholders’ consent is not involved.
  • Lack of Awareness to stakeholders

Suggestive measures

  • Provisions for community training and people participation must be included.
  • Inclusion of alternate equipment in case of technological failures.
  • Educate the stakeholders regarding their rights and duties.
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