Empowering Inclusivity: Government Policies and the Rights of People with Disabilities in India
Only when I suffered a temporary disability was I truly able to appreciate the challenges that a person with disabilities has to face in daily life. A mere 100 m walk with both my legs working seemed like a tortuous 1000 m trek when I was hobbling on one leg with the other in a cast. Add to that- uneven walking surfaces that were ready to make you topple and take a fall adding insult to injury because honestly not everyone empathises.
Fortunately, I was privileged that my disability was temporary and I recovered. Moreover, I also was able to take more expensive modes of transport to travel, but it set me thinking about the challenges and rights of a person with disabilities in India. What are the ways a person with disabilities can seek support and what are constitutional rights of a person with disability.After all, awareness of one’s rights can empower People with disabilities and offer a more supportive environment for them to thrive.
In recent years, India has made significant strides in recognizing and promoting the rights of people with disabilities. The government has played a pivotal role in creating an inclusive society, implementing policies that address the diverse needs of this community. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the legal framework and specific examples of government initiatives aimed at empowering individuals with disabilities across various facets of life.
Legal Framework: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
Whereas United Nations General Assembly adopted its Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the 13th day of December, 2006. India adopted the above Convention on the 1st day of October, 2007.
At the heart of the government’s commitment to the rights of people with disabilities is the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016. This comprehensive legislation replaced the earlier Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995, reflecting a more contemporary understanding of disability rights. You can read the detailed act HERE
For better understanding, I am going to broadly list the key features of the RPwD Act as below:
1. Broad Definition of Disabilities:
The act has broadened the definition of disabilities to include a spectrum of disabilities, encompassing not only physical, intellectual and mental disabilities but also sensory impairments that now include acid attacks victims, ASD, Autism etc. This holistic approach ensures that the rights of all individuals with disabilities are safeguarded.
2. Reservation in Education and Employment:
The act mandates a reservation of seats for students with disabilities in government educational institutions and ensures job opportunities through reservation in government jobs. This affirmative action is aimed at creating a level playing field and promoting inclusivity.
A major focus of the RPwD Act is on making the physical environment, transportation, and information and communication technologies accessible. The government launched the “Accessible India Campaign” as part of this initiative, striving to remove barriers and create a universally accessible infrastructure.
4. Special Provisions for Women and Children:
Recognizing the intersectionality of disabilities, the act now incorporates special provisions for women and children with disabilities, addressing their unique challenges and vulnerabilities.
5. Legal Capacity and Guardianship:
The act promotes the legal capacity of persons with disabilities, emphasizing supported decision-making instead of substituted decision-making that empowers them to make their own decisions and not allow someone /a guardian to make their decisions. This recognizes their autonomy and right to make decisions about their lives.
Examples of Government Initiatives:
1. Inclusive Education:
To ensure that education is accessible to all, the government has implemented inclusive education policies. Special educators are trained, and support services are provided to facilitate the mainstream education of children with disabilities.There are special schools too for the differently abled children with special needs.
2. Employment Opportunities:
The reservation of jobs in government sectors has been a landmark initiative. Various government departments and public sector enterprises actively recruit individuals with disabilities, promoting their economic independence and reducing unemployment rates.The emphasis is now on encouraging the private sector to employ more people with disabilities.
3. Accessible India Campaign:
Launched in 2015, this campaign focuses on enhancing accessibility in public transportation, government buildings, and information and communication technologies. Disabled friendly Ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, and other infrastructure modifications are undertaken to create a barrier-free environment.
4. Financial Assistance and Social Welfare:
Several financial assistance programs and social welfare schemes have been initiated, including pension schemes and scholarships. These aim to provide economic support to individuals with disabilities and their families.The scheme “Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)” is one of the five sub-schemes of the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP).States have their own schemes for supporting the disabled people.
5. Adopting Assistive Technologies:
The quality of life of a person with disability improves manifolds with the right assistive aids.The government actively supports the development and adoption of assistive technologies. This includes prosthesis and orthotic devices that enhance the independence and quality of life for people with disabilities.
Challenges and the Way Forward:
While these policies mark significant progress, challenges persist. Implementation gaps, attitudinal barriers, and the need for increased awareness are ongoing concerns. Continuous efforts from the government, collaboration with NGOs, and community participation are essential to address these challenges.
In conclusion, government policies in India have laid a robust foundation for the promotion of disability rights. The RPwD Act, coupled with targeted initiatives, reflects a commitment to inclusivity and empowerment. As we move forward, sustained efforts are required to bridge the gap between policy formulation and effective implementation, ensuring that the rights of people with disabilities are not just acknowledged on paper but actively upheld in society. The need of the hour is to spread awareness about these provisions in the constitution and strengthen them from time to time to make for a more egalitarian and inclusive society.
This post is a part of the ‘International Day of Persons with Disablities’ bloghop hosted by Sakshi Verma. #IDPDbloghop2023
Explore all the posts about disability, empowerment and financial management of this blog hop here- https://tripleamommy.com/2023/12/04/championing-diversity-uniting-voices-commemorating-idpd-together/
#IDPD2023Bloghop #ABetterlife #Sinplypretty #haleheartyhealthy #DrPreetiChauhan #InternationaldayofDisabledPersons