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Rabindranath Tagore said The problem is not how to wipe out the differences but how to unite with the differences intact”. 

Existing Legislation And Institutional Infrastructure
In 1995, the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act was promulgated. The office of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities has been established for monitoring implementation of various provisions of the Act. The Government of India enacted the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Act in 1999. The objective of this Act is to provide support to the creation of enabling climate for as much independence as is possible and to provide for assistive decision making wherever essential. A Board has been constituted to discharge functions as enshrined in the Act.

The Rehabilitation Council of India Act was notified in 1992. This Act provides for regulating the training of rehabilitation professionals and upgrading the quality of professionals. Eighty-sixth amendment of theConstitution passed in 2002 introduced a new Article 21A: Right to Education. This provides “the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.” 

The policy framework in the area of disability is enshrined in 3 Acts:
(i) The Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992.
(ii) The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
(iii) The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995[3] aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. This Act has been significantly extended, including by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. It now gives disabled people rights in the areas of:
# employment
# education
# access to goods, facilities and services, including larger private clubs and transport services
# buying or renting land or property, including making it easier for disabled people to rent property and for tenants to make disability-related adaptations
# functions of public bodies, for example issuing of licenses

The Act requires public bodies to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. It also allows the government to set minimum standards so that disabled people can use public transport easily.

When targeting youth with disabilities, the focus could be on access to higher education, vocational training, and employment opportunities. There are many seats reserved for persons with disabilities lying vacant in the vocational training system. There is also an urgent need to upgrade the existing vocational training opportunities to enhance employment prospects for persons with disabilities. Employment exchanges need to play a more proactive role, in collaboration with DGE&T, to match the increasing numbers of these people, such as by strengthening counseling services and identifying employment opportunities. The Government could play an active role by announcing targeted incentives to the private sector to promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Older people with disabilities require social security mechanisms to ensure dignified living standards. The amount given through old age pensions, widow pensions, and disability pensions varies from states to states, because welfare is a state subject. These amounts also depend on the prosperity and the priorities of the state. The lack of uniform standards leaves many older disabled people vulnerable.

The law is enforced by the disabled rights commission which is an independent body of people. They would put there to ensure that elimination is met for discrimination of disabled people and to promote equal opportunities and for them to also assist and give advice on how to treat disabled people, and to advise the government on the legislation of disability.

There is a pressing need among NGOs, CBOs, disabled people’s organizations, and parents’ organization to remain united and lobby for the realization of rights guaranteed under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. There is also a need for cross-disability consensus on priority issues for persons with disabilities.

Disabled people need to be able to sustain themselves economically. Hence, there is a need to provide them with equal earning opportunities. Trades that have been traditionally identified as appropriate for disabled people need to be redefined. There is an urgent need to improve the quality of the training facilities available for them, and ensure that training is consistent with the current market trends. The private sector provides the majority of job opportunities. Defined incentives to this sector could enhance their commitment to disability concerns, which in turn could further increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

The government should enact strict measures, with punitive actions attached to enforce the implementation of laws with regard to accessibility and safety features at the time of construction of buildings for public use. Focused efforts are needed to ensure disabled people’s access to safe drinking water, toilets (lavatories), sewage and drainage, and general sanitation (disposal of solid waste) with barrier-free features.

There is a dire need to develop a central database on disability that includes information on the numbers of persons with disabilities, the nature and extent of their disabilities, and their needs. This information should be analyzed and disseminated to all relevant institutions, including NGOs. The Government should make a time-bound commitment to develop such a database to support efforts to ensure disabled people’s access to services.

The Government and donors should consider further increases and allocation of human and financial resources to the disability and rehabilitation sector, which should be treated as a priority sector. These agencies should insist that the needs of people with disabilities be considered as an integral part of the planning of all programs and projects and not viewed as a separate issue. All projects, especially those addressing such basic needs as rural development, education, or health should not only conceptualize inclusion of disability issues, but ensure that such inclusion is integral to project implementation. An important target is to set aside 5% of budgets for rural and urban development schemes to support effective inclusion of persons with disabilities in socioeconomic and political life.

The States should be specifically requested to:
i. Formulate a ‘State Disability Policy and Plan of Action.’
ii. Carry out vertical integration of schemes of all departments relating to the disabled.
iii. Provide employment opportunities for the disabled in accordance with the provisions of the Disabilities Act.
iv. Carry out capacity building/sensitization programmers’ for administrators and field functionaries.
v. Enforce the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 1987

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Category Constitutional Law, Other Articles by - G. ARAVINTHAN