Disability should not mean exclusion;Include the disabled into the development agenda

Stratification of society based on age, sex, religion, caste, creed, power, and wealth, physical and mental ability is a reality. Egalitarian society is said to be a myth. Yet history proves time and again that human beings have made constant efforts to fight against injustice based on stratification and bring about some amount of equality, fairness and respect for human rights above all. Disability is one such stratification, which leads to a number of social and physical deprivations and disadvantages. According to a conservative estimate, there are about 600 million disabled people across the world, of these, 420 million (70%) live in developing countries. 80% of the disabled population in developing countries live below the poverty line, that is a staggering 335 million disabled people. One out of five of the poorest of the poor is a Person with Disability, which means that 20% of the poorest of the poor and most marginalized are Persons with Disabilities.

These facts are also true of India. According to conservative estimates, there are about 60 million persons with disability in the country. They constitute 10% of the world’s disabled population and 15% of the disabled population of the developing countries. Out of this 80% live in rural areas. 49 million disabled people in India live below the poverty line.

Jammu and Kashmir has the highest number of disabled persons among the states accounting to nearly three percent of its total population.  

The stakeholders attribute maximum number of such cases to blasts due to landmines, Explosive remnants of war (ERW) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

“Nearly 3.6 lakh persons are living with different kinds of disabilities which is highest among the states. India has nearly 2.8 million persons with disability."

 Out of total persons with disabilities, 2.8 lakh individuals are visually impaired, 0.38 Lakhs are physically challenged, 0.17 lakhs are with speech disability and 0.13 lakhs have hearing disability

Crippling attitudes towards disabled people compounded with institutional and environmental barriers result in the blatant discrimination and exclusion of this most marginalized section. The strongest tool to overcome such deprivations and disadvantages is to be equipped with updated information about the socio political systems, basic human rights instruments, available schemes and entitlements, procedures to access them, grievance redressal mechanisms and methods, existing infrastructure and tools that can be utilized to achieve dignity, self-reliance and efficiency.

The rights of individuals with disabilities are grounded in a human rights framework based on the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights international covenants on human rights and related human rights instruments. The latest of these instruments is that UN has proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth without discrimination of any kind. The UN also recognizes that inherent dignity, worth, equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Persons with Disabilities are entitled to exercise their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights on an equal basis with others under all the international treaties. The full participation of persons with disabilities benefits society as their individual contributions enrich all spheres of life and this is an integral part of individual's and society's well being and progress.

People with Disability form one of the most politically invisible and under-represented constituencies in India. The general level of awareness on disability-related issues among mainstream decision-makers is quite low, with disabled people themselves being ill informed about their rights. Disabled people continue to be largely excluded from education, employment and community activities. Quite often disability is not considered a development issue or a struggle for empowerment. Disabled people are looked upon merely as passive recipients of rehabilitation.

The question of access for people with disability is thus especially crucial in this situation. In addition to the aforementioned denial of disabled people accessing information, People with Disability are denied access to government buildings due to accessibility problems in transportation and the built environment. To encourage people with disability to travel to meet their representatives in government, transport facilities need to be disabled-friendly.

Disabled persons are handicapped not because of their disability, but because of the lack of access to information about their rights, entitlements and procedures to access the entitlements. Thus through this instrument we wish to empower each Person with Disability their family members, government and non-government development professionals and all other stakeholders to be able to advocate for themselves.

Conclusion

Disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty. Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, and people who are poor are more likely to be disabled. In some countries, four-fifths of disabled people are unemployed.

Disabled women are particularly disadvantaged, experiencing exclusion on account of both their gender and their disability. They are also especially vulnerable to abuse. 

These are some of the reasons why the UN Human Rights Council recently devoted a day of discussion to disability and development, in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), specifically Article 32 on international cooperation. 

The approach to development and disability can be contrasted with that of gender and poverty. The relationship between gender and poverty is recognized in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The evidence base provided by disaggregated data on women and men was required for gender to be taken seriously as a development issue. 

Raising awareness of the need for inclusive development is crucial and should be approached creatively with the positive role of our present government.

They must ensure that it is as an opportunity to pursue this aim to improve the policies related to disability and create a positive development. And we should raise our voices, both in terms of addressing disability issues and recognizing their importance in eradicating poverty, if we are going to achieve this goal then we have to make this development truly inclusive.

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