Sushashan se Sashaktikaran – Easing the lives of Divyangjan
Dr Virendra Kumar
Disability is a complex issue, managing disability involves multi disciplinary approval which causes multiple agencies and authorities in the Govt. setup both at the centre and the state level. When the Government took up under the able leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji, our principle of Governance was based on inclusiveness ; Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwaas, Sabka Prayas. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister always keeps the issues relating to the empowerment of the vulnerable including Divyangjan in the forefront of our development process. Given this objective the Govt. is continuously thinking towards creating an environment conducive for Divyangjan where they can exercise the rights equally and lead an independent and signified life.
The forces of the Government for empowerment of Persons with Disabilities is to streamline the legal framework, simplification of the process, including a better co-ordination mechanism among all concurred authorities and an improving delivery services.
When the Govt took over in 2014, we started working on having a new – law for Divyangjan. Accordingly, the RPwD Act 2016 was enacted that came into force for 19.04.2017. The Govt. is thankful to the Hon’ble Members across all party lines for passing this comprehensive law on empowerment of Divyangjan in line with the spirit of United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Unlike the old act, the new law is right based and strengthens the mechanism of monitoring its implementation. It provides reservation in Govt jobs and seats in Govt./Govt aided higher educational institutions of Divyangjan. It also promotes their health, education, sports, rehabilitation, recreation, culture etc.
The Govt. is aware of the fact that certificate of Disability is the primary requirement for any divyangjan to avail the benefits of Govt schemes and programmes to make the progress of certification simple and uniform across the country. The Govt. notified the uniform guidelines for assessment of disability certification and make it mandatory for on-line certification through Unique Disability ID Card portal – www.swavlambancard.gov.in with effect from 01.06.2021. So far more than 73 lakhs UDID cards have been generated. The Govt. is continuously working to further simplify the process and make the certification process robust, unique and transparent, so that the database can be linked to the benefit delivery system. This would further translate into ease of living of Divyangjan as well as optimize utilization of scarce Govt. resources amongst the targeted beneficiary only.
“I am a divyang person and I have a UDID card based on which I can travel free of cost in Uttar Pradesh Road Transport Corporation buses”
-Lavlesh Pratap Singh (Uttar Pradesh)
Provision of strengthening of institutional mechanisms catering to the entire gamut of disabilities has been the priority of the Govt. Accordingly, the Govt set-up the National Institute for Mental Health Rehabilitation at Sehore, Indian Sign Language Training and Research Centre at Delhi and Centre for Disability Sports at Gwalior to fill-up the gap in addressing causes of Mental Health Rehabilitation issue, standardization of Indian Sign Language and promoting Disability sports in the country.
The existing National Institutes are being continuously strengthened by providing support for their infrastructure development as well as strengthening their human-resource support system for better rehabilitation services. These Institutions now have Cross-Disability Early Intervention Centres which are equipped with facilities for early screening, provision of rehabilitation/counselling/therapeutic services and preparatory school facilities. The National Institutes and their composite Regional Centers will have facilities for addressing causes of all categories of PwDs at one place in a continuous manner.
Creating a barrier free environment across built-up environment transportation systems, ICT-ecosystem and other facility services always remains a challenge for the Govt. However, the Govt is having left no stone unturned to create an accessible environment for Divyangjan in-liaison with State/UTs. Hon’ble Prime Minister launched the Accessible India Campaign in December 2015 since then significant progress has been made in this regard but it is a long way to achieve the desired objective of saturation in accessibility in every sector be it public building, transport, communication, IT and others. The Govt feels that participation of corporate sector & private entities is equally important in creating a barrier free environment.
“Sugamya Bharat App” - a Crowd sourcing Mobile Application launched by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities is a means for sensitising and enhancing accessibility in the 3 pillars of the Accessible India Campaign i.e. built environment, transportation sector and ICT ecosystem in India. The app provides five main features, 4 of which are directly related to enhancing accessibility, while the fifth is a special feature meant only for Divyangjan for COVID related issues. This crowd sourcing will serve two-fold purpose of generating sensitisation and awareness about the need for accessibility and also bring in a perceptible change in accessible features being provided in built-up spaces, the transportation sector and other services. Implementation of accessibility related activities across the country would help towards the vision of creating an universally accessible and inclusive India under the Accessible India Campaign.
The Govt implements various schemes and programmes for empowerment of Divyangjan. The Govt has taken steps to simplify the process for availing the benefits under the Schemes so as to minimize the hardships of Divyangjan as well as to provide a transparent mechanism for implementation in on-line mode i.e. DDRS & ADIP through e-Anudaan portal, Scholarship Scheme through National Scholarship Portal. We are also working on developing an on-line system for the National Action Plan for Skill Development. The Department implements scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fittings of Aids/Appliances (ADIP) for distribution of modern & contemporary aids & assistive devices to Divyangjan to improve their mobility as well as to make them independent. Over the years, the assessment procedure and distribution of methodology has been changed. The Department is following a camp approach for distribution of aids & assistive devices to divyangjans even at the remotest part of the country. In order to enhance the outreach of the scheme, the registration of the beneficiaries is being extended through Common Service Centres (CSCs) and mobile apps. Since 2014-15 aids & assistive devices have been provided to 22.32 lakhs divyangjans worth Rs.1385.40 crore. “Earlier I used to have a lot of trouble walking, had to think 100 times to go anywhere, but now under the ADIP scheme of the Government of India, I have been provided these devices at free of cost, after which I feel very independent and able to go anywhere.”
-Razia Baano (Tikamgarh - Madhya Pradesh)
Under the ADIP scheme, Cochlear Implant Programme was introduced for the first time in December, 2014 for children with hearing impairment in the age group of 0-5 years with a cost ceiling of Rs. 7.00 lakh per unit for pre-lingual cases and Rs.6.00 lakh per unit for post-lingual hearing loss cases up to the age of 18 years. Through this programme, children having hearing and speech impairment are successfully able to regain hearing and speech functions.
The Department is implementing the flagship Central Sector Scheme Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) to provide grant-in-aid to NGOs for projects relating to rehabilitation of PwDs through e-Anudaan online system. The Scheme was revised from 1st April, 2018 and the cost norms of the scheme were enhanced by 2.5 times to cover the cost of rehabilitation services, education and boarding and lodging in the special schools. Currently, there are 456 Projects supported by DDRS running in 27 States/UTs and 348 districts. In the last eight years, a total of Rs.508.34 Crore Grant-in-Aid has been released for 3954 projects under DDRS which benefitted 2.73 lakh beneficiaries.
The Govt. has also launched the National Action Plan for Skill Development in March, 2015 with key objectives to enhance skills of PwDs to enable them to become self-reliant and productive members of the society. It also provides training through organizations under the Department and Empanelled Training Partners(ETPs) comprising Govt. (GOs) and Non-Govt. Organizations (NGOs). So far Rs. 129.69 Crore spent for skill training of 1.30 Lakh PwDs. Recently Govt has done MoU with Flipkart and in near future MoU with other e-Commerce Companies are going to be held to provide skill training and employment opportunities in e-commerce sector which in turn will generate lots of employment The Department takes care of the rights of PwDs in transparent manner so CCPD has been formed for the safeguard of the rights of PwDs and the procedure has been simplified in an accessible website platform through which cases of PwDs have been easily disposed off. Recently the Court of Chief Commissioner has issued notice to Indigo for barring a child with disabilities from boarding. Since its inception in Sept, 1998, total 39337 cases have been registered in the office of CCPD and 39079 had been disposed of by the end of March, 2022. The online Grievance Management Portal for facilitating online filing of complaints and processing the same for redressal is being developed. This will facilitate the complainants with real time status of their complaints. The process is likely to be completed shortly.New website of the O/o CCPD is functional and fully accessible for persons with disabilities (divyangjan); With a view to showcase the inner talents of Divyangjan Government has decided to organize Divya Kala Shakti in all six zones of India which will cover districts to States to Zones and the whole nation in a nut-shell
As of now the Department has organized 5 Divya Kala Shakti while 2 such National events have been organized in Delhi (Rashtrapti Bhawan – April 2019 , Parliament Library – July 2019) , one regional event each has been organized in Tamil Nadu ( Chennai – March, 2020), Arunachal Pradesh ( Itanagar –March, 2021) and Maharashtra (Mumbai – April, 2022).
The Government is aware of the challenges ahead and is making all out efforts so that the last man in the queue can get all the benefits and the Government is making the efforts day in and day out so that the marginalized and vulnerable group of society such as Divyangjan could be brought into the mainstream society group of society. The Government is ready to work with all stakeholders in ensuring the dream of Inclusive India, Empowered India.
The writer is Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India PIB