Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6 shows that disability remains misunderstood

Source– The post is based on the article “Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6 shows that disability remains misunderstood” published in “The Indian Express” on 1st September 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Vulnerable sections of the population

Relevance: Issues related to disability

News– In May, the government decided to omit disability-related questions from the sixth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-6).

Why is the decision to exclude disability-related questions not a right step?

Individuals with disabilities make up approximately 2.21 percent of the country’s population. It amounts to 2.68 crore people according to the 2011 Census.

These figures are currently underestimated due to both population growth in the past decade. They only encompass the seven specified categories of disabilities, and exclude the more general “others” category that was part of the Census.

The National Family Health Survey-6 provided a valuable opportunity to raise awareness among the public, including surveyors and enumerators.

There is a 2030 deadline for achieving the SDG of “Leaving no one behind.” There are concerns that disability rights could be relegated to a secondary status.

What are other issues related to disability in India?

The understanding of the term “disability” has remained relatively limited over the years.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation report on ‘Persons with Disabilities in India — A Statistical Profile: 2021’ refers to only eight categories of disabilities.

It fails to acknowledge or account for the 21 categories of disabilities recognized in the law after the enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

There is a tendency to overlook the recognition and consideration of the needs, perspectives, and fundamental rights of individuals with disabilities, especially those with less visible or “invisible disabilities.”

The 2021 Statistical Profile report documented that nearly 24 lakh individuals were affected by mental health-related conditions. They also failed to recognize or acknowledge the concept of invisible disabilities.

This situation persists despite estimates suggesting that as many as 20 crore people in India may be affected by psychosocial disabilities.

Why is data on disability important?

Regular data collection is crucial for achieving the SDGs and adhering to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sections 28 and 27 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act mandate the government to promote research and create programs to protect and empower individuals with disabilities.

Section 25 calls for government-conducted surveys, investigations, and research centred on disabilities.

Niti Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @ 75, acknowledges the challenges arising from the lack of comprehensive data in formulating policies for individuals with disabilities.

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