About the Author: Sugandh Ahluwalia currently serves Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), New Delhi as the Chief Strategy Officer. Formerly Deputy Director Strategy at ISIC, Sugandh holds a Bachelors degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Oxford Brookes University, England and a Masters degree in Health and Social Care Management.
The announcement of Good and Services Tax (GST) on commodities and devices that people with physical disabilities are dependent on came as a rude shock to doctors, healthcare professionals and patients who have a high dependency on the device for basic mobility itself. The GST on Braille typewriters and papers, carriages for the disabled and wheelchairs and other assistive devices have been fixed at rates varying between 5 to 18 percent.
It is demotivating to see the government charge GST on these necessary mobility devices because these were originally exempt from customs and other supporting duties. This move indicates to patients, the insensitivity, ignorance and a lack of understanding of the needs of Persons with Disabilities (PWD) by the current government. In the current situation worldwide, the disability movement is considered a social problem rather than a medical problem.
The mindset in India is that disability is considered impairment. This is a wrong perception and causes barriers in society that impacts the physically disabled people.