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«SIMM ® EDUCATION A N D E M P L O Y M E N T OF THE BLIND - THE CASE OF WEST BENGAL Bikas C. Sanyal, P. K. Giri, M. Roychowdhury, A. K. Pati,. ...»

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Here we can identify two markets: regular employment market and self-employment market, which are very distinct as has been noted before. It would be surprising to note that the median monthly salary of the regular employees is Rse 592 while the same for the self-employed is Rs. 122. Given the reporting structure of the income, this type of underestimation of one's own income in the case of self-employed is not unusual. Table 6.9 gives the distribution of monthly income for the two types of employees.

Table 6.9» Distribution of monthly income

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The salary of the regular employees corresponds to some extent with the regular employment market, whereas that of the self-employees might reflect the savings and not the salary0 We examined to what extent the salaries of regular employees depended on region of home, sex, duration of education and the duration on the job. It has been found that duration of

- 79 stay on the job plays a very significant role in determining the salary.

Other factors considered here are statistically insignificant. The regression equation found is s

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б,8 The phenomenon of self-employment We have discussed above the case of 44 self-employed people of our sample. Their individual education, family educational and income status have been discussed before» We shall discuss here the employment situation

of this self-employed group, based on several characteristics such as:

the reasons for taking up seIf-employment, type of organization set-up, phenomenon of partnership and source of capital. Given a disorganized labour market based yet on compassion, without linkage between training and employment.» one would like to promote se If-employment among the blind, which couli create employment for other blind people as well. The creation of employment as a characteristic of seIf-employment is not only true for the blind but the whole population. One becomes, however, slightly frustrated when one notes that the most important reason for seIf-employment is not a better life situation including earning and work environment, but non-avail­ ability of regular employment« Given some training, a blind person, as a

- 80 sighted person, looks for a regular employment. 28 out of the 43 responding seIf-employees gave this as a reason for landing on doing something on his own. As we have noted before that most of the self-employees are working in agriculture and few or none in technical/craftsmanship, one could find a lot of scope to diversify the self-employment market* Table 6.10 shows the distribtuion of the self-employed by reasons for taking up self-employ­ ment»

Table 6=10. Reasons for taking up self-employment

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It would be noted "Availability of Capital" comes second in the list of preferred reasons. There is reason to believe that this could be promoted by policy actions. It should also be noted that various other reasons exist which promote self-employment and could not be identified in our analysis о Total number of respondents in this group was 17, a very high share calling for further analysis.

Among the 44 self-employed interviewed, 35 were working indepen­ dently, signifying that seIf-employment is an individual phenomenon for the blind. Those who were working on partnership, in no case was the partner blind, nor was he handicapped in any way. Although the number of cases is small, tais signifies that when a blind person establishes a partnership venture, he would like to have a sighted person to overcome his physical deficiencye To establish a seIf-employment enterprise, capital is an essential element. Would one not be surprised to find that in three out of four cases voluntary organisations are cited as the source of that capital, government and banks being cited only in one case out of five. Family, friends and relatives are cited in one out of three cases, the second

- 81 important source« Needless to mention -that as perceived by the blind, entrepreneurs deserve more attention from the Government.

Table 6.11o Source of capital

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6,9 The phenomenon of unemployment While tracing the blind individuals who underwent some kind of training, out of 225 who could be traced in our studyg 91 declared themselves unemployede We have discussed this phenomenon before. Here we would like to analyse the causes of the unemployment of the blind and why they did not take self-employment» Seven causes were identified "a priori" and set before the blind to mark which of them applied to him/her specifically.

The distribution is shown in table 6*12.

Table 6„12, Causes of unemployment

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{^Multiple response permitted) What is striking in the above table is the frequency of "lack of information" as the reason for unemployment. Definitely a lot can be done in this area.

21 unemployed cited lack of effort as a cause as well. This is a question of attitude. Why should one not try to get an employment while family reluctance is not a reasons for remaining unemployed. It is also striking

- 82 to note that according to the blind person's perception, employers' attitude is not an important reason for remaining unemployed« Only 8 persons out of 70 cited employers8 attitude as a causea Lack of job opportunities as a cause for unemployment applies not only to the blind but to the sighted as well о îîie item "none to help" to find an employment appears in as many as 27 cases, which means that an instituional mechanism to secure employment for the blind would help reduce the problem« But availability of an institution mechanism in itself could not do much if the blind are not helped to be in contact with them. In a welfare society one would think of sending offers of employment to the blind rather than the blind coming and looking for employment», Among the unemployed, natur-ally one would like to test the idea of seif-employment. 46 out of 67 respondents cited dearth of capital as the bottleneck for taking up a self-employment. Lack of information came second in importance cited by 30 individuals, and lack of family support was cited by 11. All this gives us indications for policy measures.

Table б о 13e Reasons for not being self-employed

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7ol Objectives In a country like India, so vast in area and character, it is usually very difficult to ascertain the status of a particular section of people.. It is far more difficult again to determine with all definiteness the status of a disabled person0 Illiteracy being widespread, disabled persons are more in the poor illiterate sections» These poor people are in most cases guided by blind faith, superstitions, and various other unscientific factors. A particular disease which might result in blindness or other types of disability is often looked upon as something very simple and treated by country doctors« This is because of the absence of awareness among the parents. Besides, these problems were all looked upon as problems of an individual or of a family, and the individual attitude towards a blind or a physically disabled person gradually shaped the social attitude. A child born blind in a family usually would be looked upon as a burden to the family and any investment in such a child was thought to be a waste.

Generally, therefore, a blind person in a family was merely a "stomach to be regularly filled and nothing more". The blind person too used to be motivated slowly in the same way and thought that he or she was a "worthless, iil'-fat.&d being" born as a "curse88 to the family and society, and should have no choice of his or her own» It is curious again that all efforts now being made for the education and employment of the blind are very recent, implying thereby that we had attached no importance to this aspect for a long period of time, feile undertaking this survey, the team had in mind the objective of finding out, as far as practicable, the status of the blind in relation to education, employment and marriage„ Even in the case of a normal sighted person,- education and employment have a definite bearing upon the status in family and society., A man on getting a job enjoys special attention from all and an average housewife has special significance in the family if she earns money through a dignified job» In the case of a blind youth also the condition is the same» Once a burden to the family, he/she may become an indispensable member as soon as he/she begins to earn for the family.

- 84 This is a general observation. Our objective was to find a scientific and data-based observation of the status of the blind before and after education, employment and marriage, in order to determine the impact of all the factors, and to ascertain whether the arrangements for education and employment being made by different agencies have the goal of bringing about a favourable change in the atmosphere as a wholea The objective of this aspect of study is to bring out a clear picture of the situation including the kind of role played by the society, the family and the institution in shaping the fortune of the blind in the state» Besides, this may also reflect how far a slight change in status consequent upon education and training can boost up the progress of a blind person as a productive worker, as one growing up with a sense of dignity, faith and responsibility.

7с2 Education and social status Education has a definite bearing upon the status of the blind.

Normally, of course, the parents feel it a wasteful investment in a blind child's education« But when education given to a blind person proves fruitful both socially and economically, the family and the society begin to attach importance to ite Teaching in schools and colleges, teaching in music college, announcing arrival and departure times of trains, doing a bit of public relations in an office, etc may be -the jobs for the physically nano.;, capped» Indeed, many such jobs are presently being done by the blind youth (both sexes) quite satisfactorily« That blind youth are doing quite well in different capacities and that they are earning dignified sums has become an impetus for the parents and the society for educating the blind children nowadays. Many parents and guardians who had the least interest in their blind wardsB education are now coming forward to arrange for their The study does not have any data in particular to prove that education has a bearing upon social status of a blind person, but this is an area which probably does not require any specific data to prove that education leads to enjoyment of social status of a dignified character.

Education is always a matter of status and in the case of a sightless person, education is definitely a step towards greater social recognition. Education unfolds the power, perfection and personality within man, and so education

- 85 and absence of education in this country makes a great deal of difference qualitativelye Many are illiterate in the country and so nobody takes any notice of an illiterate person and when a disabled person obtains education everybody takes an interest in him/her and it becomes a matter of prestige for che person concerned«, If education thus acquired by a blind person is followed immediately by some employment or self-employment, it is, to the esteem of the people at large, of utmost importance» But if unemployment lingers for a long period of time in spite of training and education, education loses much of its importance. All the respondents in this survey had some education, though nearly 40% of them were unemployed. It is nice to note that in response to the query whether they were on an equal footing with other members of the family, 91.2% of the respondents said that they were on an equal footing, meaning thereby that they had equal importance and opportunity with others of the family. From this high percentage, together with the high rate of unemployment, it can easily be inferred that education played a big role in placing them honourably in the family« Maybe education followed by unem­ ployment over the years ceases to be a status determinant in the society at large, but not in the family« 7e3 Employment and social status To examine if employment affects the status of a blind person, those who were employed during the period under investigation were asked to give their opinion about the treatment they received from family, relatives, neighbours and friends before and after employment. Table 701 and table A4 in the appendix show vividly how the treatment from the four categories of people changed significantly in favour of the respondents after they got some employment* In the case of family members, the percentages for categories "not favourable" and "indifferent" have dropped sharply from 6.5 and 41.1 to 0.9 and 15.9 respectively, and consequently that for "favourable" has gone up to 83.2 from 52 „Зв The figures for relatives, neighbours and friends speak of similar or an even better situation»

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7U4 Marriage and social status In a poor country like India, where 67% of the people are below the poverty line and where all developmental efforts are devoured by rapid growth of population,, it is indeed difficult to ascertain whether marriage leads to social status. But in the case of a blind, or for that matter of an otherwise disabled person, marriage has a definite bearing upon social status. Generally speaking, marriage is looked upon as a social acceptance of the blind as an effective member« A blind person who was initially looked upon by the family and the society as a curse, can marry only when he is widely recognized as a productive member of the society, able to run affairs independently and can prove himself/herself as worthy enough of being ' h centre of interest and dependence, of a few other members of the familye te The present study reveals that marriage has definitely affected the social status of the blind and that the blind concerned are quite conscious about this * Only 17% of the married blind said that marriage added no additional social prestige to their life, while 82«,7% remarked that marriage in their life vías definitely a prestigious phenomenon.

Table 7a 2 e Marriage and social status

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