NEW DELHI: The government has decided to discontinue the Gyan Prabha scheme that was meant for providing financial assistance to people with autism, cerebral palsy and mental retardation in pursuing educational courses.
Officials in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment told The New Indian Express that the government had decided to scrap the scheme because many similar schemes for the disabled existed. People with autism, cerebral palsy and other mental disabilities could avail government help under these existing schemes, they said.
The Gyan Prabha scheme was started in 2008 by the National Trust, a statutory body under the ministry. According to government data, 81 people have so far benefitted from the scheme that was aimed at encouraging persons with autism, cerebral palsy and mental disabilities etc. to pursue educational courses as well as professional and vocational training leading to employment/self-employment.
Confirming the development, a senior official said the ministry had received a recommendation from the National Trust to discontinue Gyan Prabha. “The government has decided to do away with the scheme to avoid duplication as around six scholarship schemes for the disabled already exist,” the official said.
According to the 2001 Census report, the number of differently abled people in the country was estimated to be over 21 million, i.e., 2.1 per cent of the population. In 2011, their population went up to nearly 27 million, an increase of 22.4 per cent.
Earlier, the differently abled population was classified into two categories—people with movement disability and hearing/visually impaired. In the 2011 Census, a new classification was added: mentally challenged.
Fourteen new categories of disabilities such as thalassemia, hemophilia and sickle cell disease were included in April 2017 when the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, was replaced the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, which identified seven disabilities.