22.87. The Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) experience stigma and compromised dignity in their daily life. Article 41 of the Indian Constitution mandates the state to make effective provisions for securing the right to education, work and public assistance for people affected by disability within the constraints of its economic capacity and level of development.
22.88. According to the Census 2011, there are 2.68 Crore PwDs in India constituting 2.21% of the total population. This, however, could be an underestimate because according to the World Health Organisation, 15% of the
world’s population faces some form of disability. India enacted the first legislation for PwDs in 1995. The Right of PwDs Bill, 2014 has been passed recently by the Rajya Sabha. If it is cleared by the Lok Sabha it will replace the PwDs Act, 1995. India also formulated its first National Policy for PwDs in 2006. In 2015, the Accessible India Campaign was launched.
22.89. Socio-economic empowerment of PwDs is an inter-sectoral issue. However, it has not received adequate attention from different Ministries and Departments. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) which is the nodal department for issues concerning PwDs at the national level has several schemes. However, many of these schemes have a very small allocation and the resources that are allocated do not get fully utilised. The monitoring capacity within the department is also limited which is a major challenge because a number of schemes are implemented through NGOs.
Undertaking Legislative, Policy and Institutional Reforms
22.90. Replacement of the PwDs Act, 1995, will be a major step forward, especially in recognising various types of disabilities. The National Policy for PwDs, 2006, also needs to be revised to make it more relevant and comprehensive. States should be encouraged to develop their own disability policies similar to the Comprehensive Disability Policy Framework for Chhattisgarh. At least 20 states should have a policy on disability by the end of the three years.
22.91. Certain institutional reforms should be undertaken. Firstly, it is important to strengthen the institutional framework at all levels to have a stronger and more direct role for PwDs. Secondly, the responsibility for specific initiatives for PwDs should be brought under the purview of the relevant line Ministries. For instance, all education related matters should be with the Ministry of Human Resources Development. Third, the number of schemes administered by the DEPwD should be rationalised. It would be prudent to have a limited number of schemes with adequate budgetary allocation that are implemented and monitored well. Fourth, the financial and human resource capacity of the Central and State Commissioners’ offices need to be strengthened so that they are able to perform their functions more effectively Guidelines on minimum staffing levels should also be introduced.
Estimating the number of PwDs in India
22.92. The first step towards empowering PwDs is obtaining a realistic estimate of the numbers of people who are coping with various types of disabilities. This has been difficult to obtain, however, because of
reluctance to disclose this information due to social stigma. A large-scale awareness campaign should be launched to sensitize people about disability and alleviate the stigma.
22.93. Guidelines/building by-laws with mandatory provisions for accessibility should be formulated. Over the next three years, 10,000 government buildings and 75% of buildings in the private sector should become fully accessible. Additionally, accessibility should be ensured for 75% of government owned public transport and 50% of privately owned transport. Accessibility for all international and domestic airports as well as railway stations should be ensured within the three-year timeframe. In order to improve accessibility of infrastructure, one of the additional sources of funding that should be tapped is corporate social responsibility.
22.94. Over the three-year period, around 4,80,000 Scholarships/Fellowships (fresh & renewals) should be awarded to students with disability.
22.95. While the Right to Education Act promised a special focus on admission and retention of children with disabilities, the situation has not seen a major improvement. An NCERT study32 found that disabled
children in schools across states still face serious infrastructure and pedagogy handicaps. These challenges include absence of ramps and disabled friendly toilets as well as special teaching materials and
sensitized teachers. It must be ensured that schools have at least one section of each class accessible under the Universal Design Guidelines. Additionally, a module on sensitization should be made mandatory in teacher training courses.
Enhancing employ ability
22.96. Skill training should be provided to at least 12.5 Lakh PwDs over the next three years. One of the ways in which this can be accomplished is by setting up dedicated ITI Centers for PwDs according to the requirements of the private sector. The success of ITIs33 of course depends on the presence of staff, including a full-time principal and the extent of involvement of the industry partner. Additionally, five Centers should be established by the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) including 1 in the North East for training PwDs for self-employment.
22.97. The Authorized Share Capital of NHFDC should be enhanced from the present Rs.400 Crore to Rs. 1,000 Crore. Additionally, grant support should be provided to NHFDC for implementing the backend subsidy (up to 35%) under NHFDC self-employment loans. 22.98. Potential posts for PwDs in the government should be reviewed and the 3% vacancy reservation implemented. Establishing important institutions for PwDs
22.99. Four regional centres of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) should be established. Independent functioning of the National Board of Examination in Rehabilitation under the RCI should be ensured.
22.100. Three Centres for Disability Sports (in Zirakpur, Vishakhapatnam and Gwalior) should be opened during the three-year timeframe.
22.101. The Indian Sign Language, Research & Training Centre should be set up and 500 additional sign language interpreters should be trained.
22.102. For comprehensive management of spinal injuries, 20 state Spinal Injury Centres should be established in government hospitals. Additionally, an impact evaluation of the scheme for supporting the Indian Spinal Injury Centre, New Delhi, should be conducted to ascertain the feasibility of enhancing the coverage of poor people with spinal injuries and modifying the scheme if necessary.
Improving Access to Aids/Assistive technologies for PwDs
22.103. Aids should be provided to approximately 3 .5 lakh beneficiaries every year. Distribution of aids to senior citizens who live below the poverty line should be prioritised as a sizeable percentage suffers from age-related disabilities. Additionally, cochlear implant and corrective surgeries should be conducted for 5,000 children on a yearly basis.
22.104. The Unique Disability Identity Card (UDID) Project should be rolled-out in 14 states and Union Territories over the next three years. This will help to eventually create an electronic database of PwDs across the entire country. The process of issuing disability certificates through UDID should also be digitized.