The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has recently released the latest National Sample Survey data on persons with disabilities which estimates the figure of disabled people in the country to be around 2.2 per cent of the entire population.
The figure might seem small in terms of percentage but it amounts to around 2.9 crore people, which is as much as the population of some of the small countries like Nepal or Sri Lanka.
On December 3 every year, countries across the world observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) and this year, the theme is ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’.
Explaining the theme on its website, the United Nations says, “The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue, to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”
India is a long way from empowering the country’s disabled to bring them on par with others in the struggle towards attaining quality education, decent livelihood and dignified life.
One has to just look at the recently released data by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation based on the National Sample Survey, to understand the plight of the disabled.
The percentage of disabled persons aged 15 years and above-educated minimum till secondary school level is just around 19 per cent in the country.
Technical education in this age group is a meagre 1.2 per cent. The percentage of disabled persons aged 15 years and above having vocational training is much lower at just 1.4 per cent. As many as 35 per cent of the disabled populace aged seven years and above in the country are illiterate, which means they cannot read and write a simple message in any language.
One aspect of empowerment is mobility. According to the NSS, around 67 per cent of the disabled who using public transport said that they faced difficulty in access.
The Central and State governments have over the years come up with various provisions for the sake of disabled persons, including reservations in jobs, education and pension for the disabled. An essential document for a disabled person to utilise these schemes is a government disability certificate, which itself continues to remain inaccessible, thanks to red-tapism.
According to the NSS data, across the country, only around 29 per cent of all the disabled persons in the country possess a certificate of disability.
The job scenario is also grim among the disabled, as the labour force participation rate among them was found to be just 24.5 per cent.