National Policy for Persons with Disabilities
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Government of India
1. The Constitution of India ensures equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals and implicitly mandates an inclusive society for all including persons with disabilities. In the recent years, there have been vast and positive changes in the perception of the society towards persons with disabilities. It has been realized that a majority of persons with disabilities can lead a better quality of life if they have equal opportunities and effective access to rehabilitation measures.
2. According to the Census 2001, there are 2.19 crore persons with disabilities in India who constitute 2.13 percent of the total population. This includes persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor and mental disabilities. Seventy five per cent of persons with disabilities live in rural areas, 49 per cent of disabled population is literate and only 34 per cent are employed. The earlier emphasis on medical rehabilitation has now been replaced by an emphasis on social rehabilitation. There has been an increasing recognition of abilities of persons with disabilities and emphasis on mainstreaming them in the society based on their capabilities. The Government of India has enacted three legislations for persons with disabilities viz.
(i) Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which provides for education, employment, creation of barrier free environment, social security, etc.
(ii) National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Pa lsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act, 1999 has provisions for legal guardianship of the four categories and creation of enabling environment for as much independent living as possible.
(iii) Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 deals with the development of manpower for providing rehabilitation services.
3. In addition to the legal framework, extensive infrastructure has been developed. The following seven national Institutes are working for development of manpower in different areas, namely:
* Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi.
* National Institute of Visually Handicapped, Dehradun
* National Institute for Orthopaedically Handicapped, Kolkata
* National Institute for Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad.
* National Institute for Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai
* National Institute of Rehabilitation Training & Research, Cuttack.
* National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, Chennai.
4. There are five Composite Rehabilitation Centres, four Regional Rehabilitation Centres and 120 District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) providing various kinds of rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities. There are also several national institutions under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare working in the field of rehabilitation, like National Institute of Mental Mealth and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore; All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai; All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore; Central Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi, etc. In addition, certain State Government institutions also provide rehabilitation services. Besides, 250 private institutions conduct training courses for rehabilitation professionals.
5. National Handicapped and Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC) has been providing loans on concessional terms for undertaking self-employment ventures by the persons with disabilities through State Channelizing Agencies.
6. Panchayati Raj Institutions at Village level, Intermediary level and District level have been entrusted with the welfare of persons with disabilities.
7. India is a signatory to the Declaration on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asia Pacific Region. India is also a signatory to the Biwako Millennium Framework for action towards an inclusive, barrier free and rights based society. India is currently participating in the negotiations on the UN Convention on Protection and promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.