Recently a draft of the national policy for persons with disabilities (“Policy”) was released for public comments by the Department of Empowerment of Person with Disabilities (DoEPwD).
Despite all the efforts taken by the government, the political participation of persons with disabilities is next to negligible. Comment.
About the New Policy
The new policy replaces the National Policy For Persons with Disabilities, 2006 and ensures
To change the discourse around disabilityfrom a medical model of disability to a social or human rights model of disability.
To implement India’s Commitments;
India’s signing of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The enactment of new disability legislation (Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016) increased the number of disability conditions from 7 to 21.
Incheon commitment; India is a party to the Incheon Strategy for Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022.
The aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), identifies 10 goals for Asia-Pacific countries for persons with disabilities and conformity with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
It aims to ensure the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities by providing a mechanism that ensures their full participation in society.
It is a detailed commitment to education, health, skill development and employment, sports and culture, social security, accessibility, and other institutional mechanisms.
Despite all these commitments the draft has missed an important aspect that is the absence of commitment to the political uplift of persons with disabilities.
Section 11 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act prescribes to ensure that all polling stations are accessible, all materials are easily understandable by, and accessible to persons with disabilities.
The political empowerment and the inclusion of the disabled are an issue that has not found traction in India’s democratic discussion. The recently released draft also failed to take cognizance of mandates, such as;
Article 29 of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The 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....”
Incheon goals: It promotes participation in political processes and in decision making.
Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016: The anti-discrimination commitment under this Act recognizes the political domain wherein disabled people should be allowed to realize their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The exclusion of disabled people has aggravated the marginalization of the disabled, such as;
The inaccessibility of the voting process and transport.
Barriers to participating in party politics due to attitudinal barriers.
No widespread adaptation of braille electronic voting machines.
No wheelchair services at all polling centers.
A lack of representation at the local, state, or national levels.
The lack of accessible space for party meetings.
The lack of live aggregate data on the exact number of disabled people in every constituency.
The policy can follow a four-pronged approach:
Building the capacity of disabled people’s organizations and ‘empowering their members.
The creation, amendment, or removal of legal and regulatory frameworks.
Inclusion of civil societies to conduct domestic election observation or voter education campaigns.
A framework for political parties to conduct a meaningful outreach to persons with disabilities when creating election campaign strategies and developing policy positions.
The new policy emphasizes “make the right real” by the government at all levels, but this right can be made real only when it includes political rights/political participation within it.
The universal principle on disability, i.e., “Nothing about us, without us” will only be possible, when an equal chance is given to all people.
The first visually disabled Member of Parliament in independent India, Sadhan Gupta, hardly finds mention in our political or disability discourse.
It aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The Incheon Declaration was adopted on 21 May 2015 at the World Education Forum (WEF 2015) held in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
UNESCO along with UNICEF, UNFPA, the World Bank, etc organized the World Education Forum in 2015 in Incheon.
Also, watch this video on Challenges with NGO by M.Puri Sir, our faculty for Polity for UPSC CSE Preparation:
Source: The Hindu
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