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Has India Become More Sensitive Towards Divyangs?

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on 3rd of December every year with aim to promote the rights, development and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society. This provides us with an opportunity to take stock of where India stands in this aspect.

A number of steps have been taken in recent years by the Union Government led by PM Modi to not only empower disabled citizens with opportunities but also improve their quality of life.

Accessible India For All

One of the major initiatives taken by the government to improve the quality of life for Divyangs has been through the Accessible India Campaign. This campaign aims to ensure universal access for persons with disabilities and improve the ease of living for Divyangs.

  • Access audit of 1662 buildings in 50 cities has been completed by the auditors.
  • Financial proposals for retrofitting of 1217 buildings to make them disabled friendly have been received and sanction has been issued in respect of 910 buildings amounting to 264.91crores.
  • All 34 International Airports and 48 Domestic Airports have been provided with accessible features viz. ramps, accessible toilets, lifts with Braille symbols and auditory signals.
  • Out of 709 ‘A-1’, ‘A’ & ‘B’ category Railway Stations, 670 railway stations have been provided with all Short-Term Facilities and 639 railway stations have been provided with all Long-Term Facilities.
  • 3,800 coaches of Indian Railways have also been made disabled friendly each of which have wider entrance door, berths and compartments, larger lavatory and lavatory doors, additional grab rails on the side walls for support and wash basin and mirror at lower height.
  • Unique Disability Identification project with a view to create national database for Persons for Disabled Persons, to issue Unique Disability ID (UDID) card along with disability certificate has also been initiated and more than 11.2 lakh cards have been issued so far.
  • First Indian Sign Language Dictionary developed by Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), New Delhi, was launched and already contains more than 6000 words
  • More than 100 Government websites have also been made disabled friendly
  • New series of coins easily identifiable by visually impaired citizens was unveiled by the Prime Minister in denominations of Re 1,Rs 2, Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 20.
Legislative Empowerment for All Divyangs

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was a landmark legislation passed by the parliament in 2016 which contains legal provisions regarding accessibility, reservations, protection and seeks to empower persons with disabilities.

Some Landmark provisions in this Act are-

  • The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
  • Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time as disabilities
  • Reservation in higher education have been increased from 3% to 5% and in government jobs 3 to 4 %)
  • Special Allocations for poverty alleviation schemes have also been incorporated
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
  • National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities has been created
  • Special Courts to be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Providing Opportunities for Divyangs
  • Government in addition has also instituted various schemes to empower Divyangs and improve their education and employment opportunities
  • The pre-matric and post-matric scholarshipsfor differently-abled students was launched in 2014-2015 and 46,000 sanctioned pre-matric and 16,650 post-matric scholarships have been availed per annum till now
  • Saksham scholarship scheme for technical education provides Rs. 30,000 is provided towards tuition fee reimbursement and Rs. 20000 as contingency allowance and 1000 scholarships per annum are available.
  • Niramaya scheme launched in 2015 provides insurance coverage of upto 1 lakh for all Divyangs
  • National Action Plan for Skill Training of Persons with Disabilities aims to train 25 Lakh Divyangs by 2022.
Changing the Mindset

PM Modi has always stressed on empowering every section of the society and in this regard suggested that we switch over from calling viklangs(Disabled) as Divyangs(divinely abled) during his 2016 mann ki Batt.

“”We see a person’s disability with our eyes. But our interaction tells us the person has an extra power. Then I thought, in our country, instead of using the word ‘viklang,’ we should use the term ‘divyang’,”

He has also repeatedly stressed for need to self-empower Divyang sisters and had said:

PM also makes it a point to recognize and applaud the achievement of Para-athletes and regularly meets with post major tournaments to congratulate them and motivate them further.