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District Meeting on Disability Rights

Census 2011 pegs the number of persons with disabilities in India at 26.9 million, which is 2.12% of the population. A World Bank study ‘People with Disabilities in India:  From Commitments to Outcomes (2007)’ states that the number of persons with disabilities in India ranges between 55 to 90 million. This wide variation in numbers reinforces the fact that a large section of the community remains invisible, not counted, not certified and consequently outside the social net.

Disability in India has a direct correlation with poverty. Disability leads to poverty and poverty causes disability. Caught in this nexus, persons with disabilities have little or no access to education, vocational training, and livelihood and employment opportunities. Unable to access welfare measures and entitlements, denied social security, treated as recipients of charity and doles, and because of widespread ignorance about their status as rights holders, they stand marginalized and most of their human rights stand violated. Lack of information about laws and their inability to access the justice system completes their marginalization.

Within this paradigm, women with disabilities, persons with intellectual, developmental, multiple and psycho social disabilities, and indigent persons with disabilities in particular face multiple levels of marginalization and exclusion.

The last decade has brought rights-based advances for the disabled community in India. After the ratification of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was legislated in December 2016 and the Mental Health Care Act in 2017, raising hopes and aspirations of the community. The Disability Rights Initiative is recognized as the only one of its kind in providing a comprehensive range of socio-legal support services to India’s disabled community.