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Disability must first be defined as it is experienced by all disabled people, regardless of age and gender, including those with sensory, physical and intellectual impairment and mental health difficulties. Then, with this shared understanding, an assessment can be made of how well disabled people are being supported within mainstream agendas for health and well-being, the

fight against global poverty and the human rights agenda. The chapter then shows how disabled people are taking control over their lives, changing their environments and demanding their right to full participation in society and to equality in freedom and dignity, despite massive violations of their rights and lack of visibility on mainstream development agendas.

The approach to people with disabilities both nationally and internationally, has, for far too long, been built on a model of care and entitlement based on charity and the assumptions that disability is an individual pathology, a condition grounded in the psychological, biological or cognitive impairment of the individual. Having taken note of the historic grounds, which perpetuate on the equalities on the basis of physical and intellectual characteristics, the Commission is committed to create conditions in which persons with disabilities can enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedom on equal basis. This means combating disability based discrimination.

The 1970s marked a new approach to disability. The concept of human rights for disabled persons began to become more accepted internationally. The Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975, encouraged national and international protection of the rights of the disabled. Recognition was given to the fact that disabled persons were entitled to the same political and civil rights as others, including measures necessary to enable them to become self-sufficient. 

The declaration reiterated the rights of disabled persons to education, medical services, and placement service. It further recognized their right to economic and social security, to employment, to live with their families, to participate in social and creative events, to be protected against all exploitation, abuse or degrading behavior, and to avail themselves of legal aid.

‘The challenge of integrating and including persons with disabilities in the economic mainstream has not been met. Despite international standards and the implementation of exemplary training and employment legislation, policies and practices in some countries, persons with disabilities, and especially women, youth and those in rural areas, remain disproportionately undereducated, untrained, unemployed, underemployed and poor.’

“Well, in India, the major problem is that of awareness. Or rather, the lack of it.… There's also a kind of stigma associated with them, which is disgusting. There are laws that state that no school for ‘normal children can refuse admission to disabled ones, however, it is rarely followed; most schools do refuse admission to such children. All these factors lead to just one result: these children do not receive the education they deserve, the education that their peers receive.”[1]

According to the National Sample Survey Organization, 2002 report on ‘Disabled Persons in India’, 55 percent persons with disabilities were illiterate. This is very large and unacceptable percentage. There is a need for mainstreaming of the persons with disabilities in the general education system through Inclusive education. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) launched by the Government has the goal of eight years of elementary schooling for all children including children with disabilities in the age group of 6-14 years by 2010.

Government of India is providing scholarships to students with disabilities for pursuing studies at post school level. Scholarship is also provided to the children with mental retardation and Cerebral Palsy pursuing education in school i.e. Class IX & X.

Public buildings/ places/ transportation systems etc. shall be made barrier free through design changes, use of appropriate material and strict adherence to building bye-laws, space standards for barrier-free built environment.

The Government of India has been assisting the persons with disabilities in procuring durable and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities.

Social Security Special Provision For Persons
Disabled persons, their families and care givers incur substantial additional expenditu re for facilitating activities of daily living, medical care, transportation, assistive devices, etc. Therefore, there is a need to provide them social security by various means. Central Government has been providing tax reliefs to persons with disabilities.

The State Governments/ U.T. Administrations have also been providing unemployment allowance / or disability pension. The present social security schemes are not comprehensive and also vary across the States. The State Governments will be encouraged to develop a comprehensive social security policy for persons with disabilities.

Parents of severely disabled persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities feel a sense of insecurity regarding the welfare of their wards after their death. National Trust for persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities has been implementing the Supported Guardianship Scheme to provide financial security to persons with the above-mentioned severe disabilities who are destitute and abandoned by supporting the cost of guardianship.

This scheme has been envisaged for implementation in 75 districts in the country to begin with and provides support to 10 beneficiaries per district. The government shall in a phased manner promote expansion of the scheme to all the districts. Thereafter, an increase in coverage will also be considered.

India over the last 30 years has put in place an impressive range of legal framework and administrative mechanisms to boost employment of persons with disabilities. However, for realization of the rights of persons with disabilities, there is a need to have a systematic effort so that the institutions and their functionaries who administer the employment are made fully conversant with the complexity of legal and administrative arrangements.

Under the Constitution of India, labor is a subject where both the central and state governments are competent to enact legislation, subject to certain matters being reserved for the central Government. The Ministry of Labour has 4 attached offices and 10 subordinate offices, 4 autonomous organizations, 17 adjusting bodies, and an arbitration body. Vocational training is also subject to both central and state levels of government. 

The central Government has responsibility for developing training schemes at the national level, policy development, establishing training standards and procedures, and conducting trade tests and certification. Implementation of training schemes largely rests with the state and UT governments. The National Council of Vocational Training, a tripartite body with representatives from employers, workers, and central and state governments, acts in an advisory capacity.

Similar councils, known as state councils for vocational training, have the same role with respect to state governments.

For skills training of poor women (those below the poverty line), the International Labour Organization (ILO) has undertaken a project on Decent Employment for Women; DGE &T is the focal point agency. The program focuses on enhancing productive employment and income earning opportunities for women as well as on promoting awareness of their rights in the workplace and as women workers in the nonformal sector. This is a pilot program implemented in New Delhi and Bangalore.

There are 938 employment exchanges at the state level, including 42 special employment exchanges for persons with disabilities, throughout India. There are also 41 special cells for persons with disabilities within mainstream employment exchanges. Most states have a directorate of employment located in the state capital.

Apart from this the basic things also can’t be ignored such health, pension and housing etc. Health services are provided free of cost; hence, there is no special health allowance for persons with disabilities or those below the poverty line. Departments of welfare in many states provide free distribution of assistive aids and appliances for persons with disabilities, with the help of the National Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Some states have also taken the initiative to conduct free surgery for correctable conditions.

Disabled government employees, as well as those suffering a serious illness, may receive housing within the general pool of the Government’s residential accommodation. A request for government housing must be made to a special recommendation committee and be approved by the urban development ministry. The fifth central Pay Commission has recommended that a transport allowance be given to central government employees with disabilities to compensate them for the cost of commuting between residence and place of duty.

[2]In the context of disabled women’s Issues of disability and sexuality do not find a visible space in the disability discourse in India. The movement in India has focused on social change in terms of entitlements like inclusive physical environmental access, employment, and so on. The public image of disability is that of a healthy and sharp young man in a wheelchair or of an alert and intelligent blind man, both of whom are disadvantaged only due to a physically inaccessible environment. Complicated issues like disabled persons' interaction with gender and other social, cultural oppressions, and the embodied experiences of physical, sexual and emotional rejection, wants and desires are not raised at all. Within the disability movement there is a kind of vigilant silence about the wants and desires of the "impaired body".

It is not just a negation of pain, fatigue, depression and illness but also a denial of dialogue about the body. This denial is blocking opportunities of changing notions of attractiveness and attitudes towards disability and sexuality among the disabled themselves and in society.

Rendered deficient and regarded as unattractive, disabled women are denied socially inscribed sexual, reproductive and nurturing roles. This is a great disincentive for those disabled women who see sex and reproduction as integrated. And for women from cultures like India where marriage must precede sex and reproduction must follow sex. Denial of the reproductive role is denial of a sexual life. Considering that so many negative perceptions about the sexuality of disabled persons go unchallenged, there is a need to carry out empirical work to reclaim the sexual experiences of disabled people. This must be done for three reasons: to substantiate the fact that disabled people are indeed perceived as asexual and face multiple barriers to their sexuality, and to make the non-disabled world accept and value disabled persons' sexuality; to bring sexuality onto the disability movement's agenda; to validate the experiences of disabled persons. Positive cultural representations of the sexuality of disabled persons are important not only to change public perceptions but also to impact on disabled persons' access to sexually meaningful relationships

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Category Constitutional Law, Other Articles by - G. ARAVINTHAN