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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: SC’s direction to the governments. And some solutions discussed in the newscard.


News

SC’s direction on providing public facilities to the disables

  1. The Supreme Court has directed(for the rights of the disabled) to the Central and State governments to provide full access to public facilities, such as buildings and transport, within stipulated deadlines
  2. The court has issued a series of orders: that
    (1) all government buildings should be made accessible by June 2019
    (2) half of all government buildings in the capital cities should meet accessibility norms by December this year
    (3) the Railways should present a report in three months from December 15 on implementing station facilities
    (4)  10% of government public transport must be fully accessible by March 2018
    (5) advisory boards should be formed by the States and Union Territories in three months

Background of the issue

  1. People with a disability form 2.21% of India’s population according to the 2011 Census
  2. Disabled persons have had a law for two decades to enable their full participation in society, but successive governments have done little to realise those guarantees

What should be done?
On travel requirements of the disables

  1. It is eminently feasible, to aggregate the travel requirements of disabled people with the help of information technology and smartphones, and provide affordable shared transport using accessible vehicles
  2. Given the emphasis on smart cities and upgraded urban facilities, such schemes should be given the highest priority and start-up ideas roped in
    In Railways
  3. Railway stations and access to train carriages continue to pose hurdles for not just the disabled, but even elderly travellers
  4. The Railways should embark on an urgent programme to retrofit all stations
  5. And try simple solutions such as portable step ladders to help board and exit trains, since level boarding is not possible in most places

Is cost a hurdle?

  1. Cost(of providing facilities to the disables) is not the barrier to improving facilities; what is in short supply is the political will to change the design of public facilities and stick to professional codes
  2. Today India is relatively richer, and has passed a new law in 2016 to strengthen the rights of the disabled, should demonstrate the will to implement it
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