Disability – policy and challenges

Context: 3rd dec is the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities, established by the United Nations in 1992.

More on news:

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.
  • Increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

What are the problems faced?

  • Huge numbers: About a billion people internationally live with a disability, with 80 per cent of these being residents of the developing world. In 2007, the UN passed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • India is a state party to the convention, and the World Bank estimates that there may be well over 40 million Indians living with disabilities.
  • Shortage of ramps: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in 2016 but our country is still largely devoid of ramps on its footpaths or government buildings.
  • Poor development: Indians with disabilities are far more likely to suffer from poor social and economic development. Shockingly, 45 per cent of this population is illiterate.
  • Community’s lack of political representation: Despite the vast population of people with disabilities in India, in our seven decades of independence we have had just four parliamentarians and six state assembly members who suffer from visible disabilities.

What are the steps taken by India?

  • Mental health care act: In 2017, the Mental Healthcare Act recognised and respected the agency of persons with mental-health conditions.
  • Expanding the presence of mental-health establishments across the country.
  • Restricted the harmful use of electroshock therapy.
  • Clarified the mental-health responsibilities of state agencies such as the police.
  • Effectively decriminalised attempted suicide.
  • Initiatives: Initiatives to improve the life of Indians with disabilities, such as the ADIP scheme for improving access to disability aids.
    • The Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, or Accessible India Campaign, has aimed to make public transport, buildings and websites more accessible.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act: The best that can be said is that the passage of this law may have helped shift the treatment of disabled persons in society towards rights-focused thinking.
  • Media representation: Mainstream media has increasingly started showing positive representations of people with disabilities, from Taare Zameen Par to Barfi.
  • Representation in sports: Athletes with disabilities have reached the pinnacles of sport and done us proud repeatedly, most recently winning four athletics medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Way forward

  • It is critical that the government work with civil society and individuals with disabilities to craft an India where everyone feels welcome and treated with respect, regardless of their disabilities.

Mandatory online certification for Persons with Disabilities through “UDID portal”

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