Question – To empower persons with disabilities in India, it is imperative to shift from a charity based approach to a rights-based approach. Analyse. – 18 December 2021
Answer – According to the 2011 census, the disabled population in India is approximately 26.8 million, which is 2.21% of the total population of India. Despite the size of the population, policies in India have failed to address the infrastructural, institutional and behavioral barriers for persons with disabilities.
To resolve the issues and challenges related to persons with disability, the government of India came up with a landmark act on disability – The Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act, 2016. The act increased the number of disabilities from 7 to 21. It also increased the quota of reservation for persons with disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and 3% to 5% in higher education institutions.
Despite the noble intent of the act, the act has not been able to yield desired changes. This is because policy interventions in India have been followed ‘charity based approach’, which has the following limitations:
- Under this approach lies a power relationship between givers and receivers where the givers voluntarily fulfills the need of the beneficiaries. This limits the choice and benefits for the receivers.
- The approach gives an impression that the problem has been solved by rolling out doles, without altering/modifying the fundamental (economic, political, social and bureaucratic) structure, which is the root cause of the problem.
- In India, the statistics point out the lack of disability prevention orientation in the state sponsored policies and schemes in This ignorance stems from the society’s and state’s attitude towards the persons with disability.
Therefore it is high time for state to move away from the ‘charity-based approach’ to the ‘rights based approach’:
- Rights based approach brings a new progressive paradigm especially for those disabilities that have so far been neglected and marginalized by making access to social security not as a ‘doles’ but as rights.
- It makes a commitment to its people with disabilities and mandates public institutions and its officials to protect, fulfill and promote all rights of all persons with disabilities.
- So far, disability issues have managed to occupy only a small place in the minds of policy makers and decision makers. The rights based approach brings the required attitude and institutional changes in the bureaucracy.
Further, there is an urgent need for political will to ensure that disability is included across all policies, across all Ministries and Departments, and a time frame is fixed to make our facilities, schools, colleges, public places, etc. accessible for all people with disabilities and adequate resources are allocated.