“Disability is just a state of mind” – is easier said than done. It is now imperative to introspect whether we as a society have evolved to respect and accept those with disabilities
In our society, sometimes, disabled persons are seen as ‘abnormal’. But if we all introspect and see our lives full of stresses of the modern age, we are all abnormal in some ways. ‘Equality’ and ‘Justice for All’ are big words but in reality, should form the basic pillars of any society. Disabled people amongst all should be allowed to live their lives with equal dignity and liberty. And this is the trend that we have observed in the growth of our collective civilization. From government initiatives to differently abled heroes, it is good to appreciate the trajectory of acceptance of the same in our country and around the world.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day dedicated towards creating awareness regarding challenges faced by disabled persons in their everyday lives. Every year, it is observed on 3rd December. This day aims to mobilise people to extend support to disabled people and thus create enabling environment around them. This year, the theme is “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.” This theme emphasizes upon the technological advancements that can reduce the barriers for disabled people. Disability can be negated by the use of technology to a great extent. Technology can become the eyes and ears of disabled people and thus improve their lives significantly.
The year 1981 was announced as the “International Year of Disabled Persons” by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 1976. It was planned to emphasise the rehabilitation, prevention, promotion and equalization of opportunities for the persons with disabilities at the international, regional and national levels. The vital purpose of this day’s celebration is to improve the understandings of the people worldwide towards the people with disability issues as well as get together to support them to improve their self-esteem, well-being and rights in the society. It also looks to involve all the persons with disabilities in the society in each facet of life such as the political, economic, social and cultural. That’s why it is celebrated by the title of “International Day of Disabled Persons”. Every year celebration of the international day of disabled persons focuses on the different issues of the disabled persons all across the world.
What is a disability
Disability in simpler terms can be defined as a physical or mental condition that impairs the movements, senses or activities of a person. It is not just a health problem. Rather, it is a complex phenomenon reflecting the interaction between the human body and its surrounding society. The term disability does not only include physical or mental disabilities, but also encompasses diseases such as Down’s syndrome, Multiple sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, etc.
As per World Health Organization (WHO), “There are over 1 billion people in this world with some form of disability.” In India alone, there are 26, 810, 557 disabled persons (2.21 percent of Indian population) with about 14.9 million men and 11.8 million women. About 70 percent of these disabled people live in rural areas. According to Census of India 2011, hearing, sight or mobility related disabilities are the commonest amongst the disabled people.
It is true that adequate provisioning of infrastructural facilities is vital for the disabled people. But the biggest challenge faced by the disabled is the negative attitude of society towards the disabled people. Some people sympathize with them. Some disregard them. Some humour them. But they forget that disabled human beings also have feelings. They, who have been rejected by society in many ways; let us stop making fun of them and start acting responsibly. Let it be fashionable to help the disabled. Support them rather than humouring them.
India’s Divyangjan initiatives
India is the largest democratic country in the world and is on its way to becoming a key player in the global scenario. It is our responsibility to ensure that this developmental cycle touches all the citizens of this country – the able and, especially, the disabled, who are often referred to as the invisible minority. But before we stamp them as minority, let us consider the recent census reports. According to the 2001 census, the government figure for the physically handicapped was 2.1% of the entire population. A reserved guess would place that figure between seven to ten crores. The National Policy identifies the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) as necessary and valuable assets of this country and the basic goal is to create an atmosphere for them in conjunction with the basic constitutional rights i.e. equality, freedom, justice and dignity. This will also guarantee equal opportunities for the PWD thereby ensuring the protection of their rights and enabling their full participation in the society.
Primary objectives of the National Policy:
1. Physical rehabilitation which includes medical treatment, counseling, providing aids and appliances.
2. Educational Rehabilitation which offers vocational and on-hand training.
3. Economic Rehabilitation ensuring a better and dignified life in society.
India implemented the CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) Act in 2008 which was enhanced by the National Center for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People (NCPEDP) and Disabled Rights Group (DRG).
The Government has envisaged a number of schemes to promote the standard of life of the PWD in general.
Some of these schemes are:
1. Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids/ Appliances (ADIP) involving physical rehabilitation of the PWD by providing them with aids and appliances
2. Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) a multi-faceted scheme that addressing all the possible aspects of rehabilitation.
3. Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act aimed at providing funds for projects involving construction of public buildings, support to regional institutions that provide service to the PWD, and creating awareness.
The National Award For Divyangjan
Every year, since the year 1992, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities i.e. 3rd December, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment confers National Awards on Individual, Institutions, Organisation, State/District etc for their outstanding achievements and work done towards empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities are given under 14 categories 2017. On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – December 3rd , the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will be presenting National Awards to individuals, institutions, organizations, state/district, etc for their outstanding achievements and work done towards empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
People with different ability will be awarded for their different roles and best performance even after having different disabilities. Shri Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, will confer the “National Award for Divyangjan, 2017” at a function to be organized by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December, 2017 in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
Within the stipulated date, out of the above 14 categories, 984 applications were received from 13 categories.
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