From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Mains level : Paper 2- Provisions for persons with disability
Legal provisions not turning into reality through their implementation adds to the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities. The article deals with the idea of enabling persons with disability to contribute to society.
- December 3 is the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is also a stark reminder of how far we in India need to go in meeting the needs of the disabled.
Lack of implementation of provisions
- The World Bank estimates that there may be well over 40 million Indians living with disabilities.
- 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.
- The law promises them equality of opportunity and accessibility. Our practices deny them what the law promises.
Challenges faced by persons with disabilities
- Indians with disabilities are far more likely to suffer from poor social and economic development.
- 45 per cent of this population is illiterate, making it difficult for them to build better, more fulfilled lives.
- This is compounded by the community’s lack of political representation:
- In our seven decades of independence, we have had just four parliamentarians and six state assembly members who suffer from visible disabilities.
- This lack of representation, and these general attitudes, translate directly into policy that undermines the well-being of people with disabilities.
- Last year, for example, the government inexplicably decided to depart from convention and render people suffering from cerebral palsy ineligible for the Indian Foreign Service.
Initiatives and steps taken by the government
- The government has had some admirable initiatives to improve the lot 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.
- 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, and effectively decriminalised attempted suicide.
- In 2007, the UN passed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- India is a state party to the convention.
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. Only then can we welcome the next International Day of Persons with Disabilities without a sense of shame.