Small World

When Good Things Come in Small Packages

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Uttarakhand promises its diminutive residents financial aid in the form of a Rs 800 monthly allowance
The state of Uttarakhand has made a noble New Year’s resolution. By the end of January, say officials, the state government will institute a monthly dole for its dwarf residents. Any adult above the age of 21 who measures under four feet will get a monthly allowance of Rs 800.

The decision, taken at a meeting chaired by the state’s Chief Minister Harish Rawat, aims to provide relief to a section of society that faces discrimination in various ways. They struggle to find jobs, even when they are qualified, and whatever money they make is often too little for them to make ends meet. The Uttarakhand Social Service department conducted a survey to identify the adults eligible for this allowance in June last year. The allowance will be deposited every month in their bank accounts after claimants submit the required documents. Vishnu Singh Danik, director of the Social Welfare Department, Uttarakhand, says that this is the first of several such plans. According to him, the state is also considering reservations for them in certain services of the state government.

In the recent past, several dwarf organisations in the country have been demanding government benefits. The Kerala Small Men Association, for instance, has been fighting for job reservations under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. In Andhra Pradesh, on the insistence of the High Court, dwarves now have the status of ‘persons with locomotor disability’ and are eligible for state government employment under a 3 per cent quota.

According to Raghavan, a 40-year-old dwarf based in Mumbai who has an MBA degree, state governments need to take a compassionate view of their plight. “I have not married because I cannot support a family. I do odd jobs, which are also difficult to find. The first reaction I used to get when I went for job interviews was laughter,” he says.