Draft National Policy on Persons with Disabilities (PwD)

  • IASbaba
  • July 16, 2022
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In News: Recently Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has invited public feedback on the New Draft National Policy on Disability (PwD).

Provisions of the Draft Policy

  • According to the draft, current national programme on prevention of disabilities by Health Ministry focuses on “traditional causes”. But there are other causes of disability, including malnourishment, socio-cultural factors, medical negligence, and impairment caused by disasters.
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 also increased the number of disabilities from 7 to 21.
  • Policy called for a comprehensive national programme on prevention of disabilities and other medical conditions that could manifest as a disability.
  • According to the draft, one-third of most disabilities in children were preventable, if detected timely and early.
  • The draft policy also said the States and Union Territories should add a provision on compliance with the RPD Act when granting permission or recognition to educational institutions.
  • Disability module should also be included in MBBS and other medical courses.

Necessity for a new policy

  • India’s signing of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Enactment of new disability legislation (Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016)
  • Being a party to the Incheon Strategy for Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 (“Incheon commitment”)

The policy document highlights a detailed commitment to education, health, skill development and employment, sports and culture, social security, accessibility and other institutional mechanisms.

However, a absence of any commitment to the political uplift of persons with disabilities makes the draft incomplete.

Importance of Political Participation

  • Article 29 of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities mandates that state parties should ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  • The Incheon goals also promote participation in political processes and in decision making.
  • The exclusion of disabled people from the political space happens at all levels of the political process in the country, and in different ways.
  • For instance, the inaccessibility of the voting process, barriers to participation in party politics or a lack of representation at the local, State or national levels have all aggravated the marginalisation of the disabled.
  • Political parties in India still do not find the disabled as the large electorate to specifically address their needs.
  • The lack of accessible space for party meetings, inaccessible transport for campaigning or an attitudinal barrier among voters and party leaders can be termed as contributing factors

Way forward

The goal of the policy document — of inclusiveness and empowerment — cannot be achieved without political inclusion.

The policy should include

  • Capacity building of disabled people’s organisations and empowering their members through training in the electoral system, government structure, and basic organisational and advocacy skills’;
  • the creation, amendment or removal of legal and regulatory frameworks by lawmakers and election bodies to encourage the political participation of the disabled;
  • inclusion of civil societies to conduct domestic election observation or voter education campaigns;
  • And a framework for political parties to conduct a meaningful outreach to persons with disabilities when creating election campaign strategies and developing policy positions.

Learn from the Best practice

  • Few States have begun the initiative at local levels to increase participation. For instance, Chhattisgarh started the initiative of nominating at least one disabled person in each panchayat.
  • This step increases the participation of the disabled in the political space at local level.

Source: The Hindu

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