Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities offers that “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with other.” In this light, disability may be defined as a condition which may restrict a person’s mental, sensory or mobility functions to undertake or perform a task in same way as a person who does not have a disability.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one of his radio address of ‘Mann ki Baat’ regarded physically challenged person with divine ability. He also used the term ‘Divyang’ for Person with Disability (PwD).
There are currently more than 2 billion disabled people in the world, which is 37.5% of the world population. As per the census 2011, the number of disabilities in India is around 2.68 crore constituting 2.21% of the total population. The increase is more in the rural areas and in the state of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim. The people with disabilities are often excluded and denied their rights in the society especially in rural area. persons with
Types of Disability
Categories of disability types include various physical and mental impairments that can hamper or reduce a person’s ability to carry out their day to day activities. Disability can be broken down into following sub-categories
Includes upper and lower limb disability, manual dexterity and disability in coordination of different organs of body.
• Spinal Cord
Injury May result in partial or total disfunctioning of sensory organ’s.
• Head Injuries or Brain Disability
Occurs due to brain injury and are of two types : Acquired Brain Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury.
• Vision Disability Blindness or ocular trauma. and Hearing Disability Deafness.
•Cognitive or Learning Disability Impairment associated with dyslexia.
•Psychological Disorders Personality disorders or schizophrenia.
• Invisible Disabilities Not immediately apparent.
Problems Faced by Divyangs
Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) or Divyangs often lack support services. It is due to lack of support services, they are denied basic education or vocational training. As per the India Social Development Report (SDR), about 45% of all PwDs in India are illiterate. There are various issues such as availability of special schools, trained teachers and availability of educational materials for the disabled.
Further, they are also denied of employment opportunities. Lack of rehabilitation leads to poverty. Most of the public spaces in India are not equipped with special requirements of the disabled people. Lack of adequate disabled-friendly facilities ha acted as bigger roadblock and has prevented differently abled people from making valuable contributions to the society.
Initiatives taken by Government of India
India is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Further, India has ratified the convention in 2007. Government of India has taken several steps for inclusion and empowerment of PwDs/Divyangs in line with the obligations under UNCRPD. Some of the scheme and initiatives undertaken by Government are as follows
• Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchasing/Fitting of Aids/Appliances (ADIP) Scheme (1981)
It has been launched to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, advanced and scientifically manufactured, modern standard aids and appliances. The scheme intends to promote the physical, social and psychological rehabilitation among disabled.
• Deen Dayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) (2003)
The objective of DDRS scheme is to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities. The approach of this scheme is to provide financial assistance to voluntary organisations to make available the whole range of services to PwDs.
•Scholarships for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) (2014-15)
The scheme has been launched by the Department of Disability Affairs to provide financial assistance to the parents of students with disabilities for studying at Pre and Post Matric Level.
•Accessible India Campaign (2015)
Accessible India Campaign or Sugamya Bharat Abhiyaan is a program which has three important components- to build environment accessibility, transportation system accessibility, information and communication eco-system accessibility.
• Schemes of the National Trust
The National Trust is an autonomous organisation of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government India. The National Trust works for the welfare of persons with disabilities o Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental retardation and Multiple disabilities.
The National Trust has launched DISHA (Early Intervention and School Readiness Scheme) for early intervention for Person with Disability (PwD) through therapies, trainings and providing support to family members. The National Trust has also launched Vikas Day Care Scheme for people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy and multiple disabilities above the age of 10 years. The scheme aims to improve interpersonal and vocational skills.
•Unique Disability ID
‘Unique ID for persons with Disabilities’ project is an initiative of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Government of India. It aims at building a holistic end-to-end integrated system for issuance of Unique Disability ID and certificates.
• The Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016
The act is the disability legislation passed by Indian Parliament to fulfil its obligation to the UNCRF The act listed seven conditions of disabilities to be covered which were blindness, low vision, leprosy, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, ment: retardation and mental illness. The law also seeks to enhance the rights and entitlements of PwD and provides effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment
The Constitution of India ensures equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals and mandates an inclusive society for all including persons with disabilities. The Constitution of India further lays the responsibility for empowering the disabled persons to states. People with disabilities need much more support than others in the face of pandemic.
We would fail as a human race if we don’t show a humane response equitably with affirmative action for people with disabilities. A multi-sectoral collaborative approach involving all stakeholders, Government of India, Ministries, State Governments/UTS, Central/State undertakings, local authorities and NGO’s is required. Appropriate authorities must undertake activities for the empowerment of Divyangjans.
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