AWARENESS OF OTHER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES IN THE COMMUNITY. FAMILIARIZING
WITH POVERTY ALLEVIATION PROGRAMMES
NATIONAL INITIATIVES FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION OF
PERSONS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities,
Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act was enacted in 1995,
which is the landmark development in India in the welfare of persons with
disabilities. This is a comprehensive piece of legislation which treats
rehabilitation as a right and aims to eliminate discrimination and create a
society which provides opportunities for development of people with disabilities
to their fullest potential. Action on implementation of the Act has started in
right earnest and is an ongoing process. It deals with both the prevention and
promotional aspects of rehabilitation such as education, employment and
vocational training; the creation of barrier-free environment; provision of
rehabilitation services for people with disabilities; institution for persons
with extensive disabilities and social security measures such as unemployment
allowance and a grievance mechanism both at the central and state levels. The
legislation prescribes a 3 per cent reservation (1 per cent each for
physically-, visually- and hearing-impaired persons) in identified posts in all
government and public sector offices. The Act provides reservation of 3 per cent
benefits to the people with disabilities in all poverty alleviation schemes.
The Parliament of India had earlier enacted a law for the
setting up of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). Its
main responsibility is the standardi-zation of curriculum and training
facilities of various professional courses on rehabilitation of people with
disabilities and to inspect the facilities to monitor compliance. The RCI is
playing an important role in ensuring the quality of services in the crucial
area of manpower development. So far, a total number of 91 organizations have
been recognized by the RCI for running certificate, diploma and degree courses
in the area of disability.
In order to empower people with disabilities to cope with the
new -challenges and to develop the necessary entrepreneurial skills and
initiatives, the National Handicapped Finance and Development
Corporation (NHFDC) was set up to support self-employment projects for
people with disabilities.
The Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment
has already taken an initiative in 1996 by ensuring suitable amendments in the
integrated rural development programme under which the groups of disabled
persons will be given a revolving fund of 25,000 rupees for income-generating
activities. All the ministries and departments which are operating the poverty
alleviation programmes and projects shall identify the schemes under which
participation of disabled persons may be ensured.
There are also various grant-in-aid schemes of the
Central Government , in which NGOs are provided up to 90 per cent (95
per cent in the rural areas) funding for the rehabilitation services.
The Government of India has also given various income-tax
deductions from the total income taxes from people with disabilities. The limit
under Section -80-U has been raised from Rs20,000 to Rs40,000 and deduction of
Rs20,000 from the taxable income of the parents or guardians of people with
disabilities has been allowed provided this amount is deposited in any scheme of
Life Insurance Cooperation (LIC) and United Trust of India (UTI).
For the annual International Day of Disabled Persons, the President of India
presents the following national awards: the most efficient disabled employee;
the outstanding employer of disabled persons; the individual doing work for the
cause of disabled persons; the best institution working for disabled persons;
the best placement officer of disabled persons; the technology awards for
inventions in the field of disability.
Involvement of National Institutes
The six national institutes have undertaken various public awareness
measures with regard to education and rehabilitation of persons with
disabilities through films, print media and radio. They are the National
Institute for the Visually Handicapped, Dehradun; National Institute for the
Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai; National Institute for the Orthopaedically
Handicapped, Calcutta; National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped,
Secunderabad; Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi; National
Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research, Cuttack.
The Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, in collaboration with -Municipal
Corporation of Delhi and ESCAP, has started the New Delhi Pilot Project. This
selected project, which was inaugurated in December 1996, aims to make
barrier-free all the public buildings and offices in the localities which are
-frequently used by people with disabilities, and situated within a kilometre
radius of Indra Prastha Estate. The project is expected to have a demonstration
effect and play an important role in extending technical guidance and the
necessary motivation to other cities towards the promotion of non-handicapping
environment. In 1996, the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment has also
undertaken the task of formulating model building by-laws which will provide for
easy access to public buildings by persons with disabilities. The model building
by-laws have been circulated to all the state governments for adoption and
The Act places a statutory obligation on the government to provide free
education to disabled children in an appropriate environment till the age of
eighteen. It also provides for establishment of special schools, facilities for
imparting non-formal education and education through open schools and
-universities to disabled children, organizing teacher training programmes,
taking steps for -adaptation of curriculum, reform of examination system,
promoting research and providing various facilities to disabled children at the
The objective is to integrate the people with disabilities
with the general community at all levels as equal partners, to prepare them for
normal growth and to enable them to face life with courage and confidence.
The Scheme for Integrated Education of Disabled
Children (SIEDC) provides educational opportunities for disabled
children in the general school system so as to facilitate their retention and
ultimate integration in the system.
SIEDC is implemented through the education departments of the
state governments, and autonomous and voluntary organizations. Over 53,000
dis-abled children in 13,674 schools have been covered so far. Under SIEDC, 100
per cent financial assistance is provided. These include allowances for books
and stationery, uniforms, transport allowance, readers allowance for blind
children, escort allowance for severely disabled children particularly those
with lower extremity disability, boarding and lodging charges for disabled
children residing in hostels.
In addition, the Government of India also sets up and equips
resource rooms with aids and assistive devices, provides teacher support in the
ratio of 1:8, pays resource teachers as applicable in the state/union territory,
pays helpers and attendants and gives special pay for resource teachers.
It also funds a survey to identify disabled children in the
blocks/districts and assess the children via a team comprising a doctor, a
psychologist and a special educator. It also buys and produces instructional
materials, pays for the training and orientation of resource teachers and the
salary of an administrative cell at the state level to implement and monitor the
During Ninth Five-year Plan commencing from 1997 to 1998, the
Government of India proposed to expand the coverage of the SIEDC into the ?unreached?
areas. The total proposed allocation for SIEDC during Ninth Five-year Plan has
been kept at Rs one billion with a view to expand the coverage of the programme
and making it more effective.
Another programme, the Project Integrated Education
for the Disabled (PIED) was introduced with United Nations Children?s
Fund assistance in 1987. PIED was started in a selected block in 10 states of
Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Gujarat,
Rajasthan, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.
Under PIED, a block is taken as a project area and all the
schools in that block are converted into integrated schools. An external
evaluation of PIED in 1994 showed that not only had the enrolment of disabled
children increased considerably, the retention rate among disabled children was
very high, about 95 per cent. The figure was even higher than that for normal
children in the same block. The PIED programme, which is being run through 1,382
schools ? benefiting over 6,000 children ? has now been merged into the SIEDC -programme.
Under the holistic, community-based and innovative District
Primary Education Programme (DPEP), which was launched in 1994 and
covers 60 districts, integrated education for all children with mild to moderate
disabilities is being given special emphasis. The programme will eventually be
introduced in 120 districts.
The project board of the National Elementary Education
Mission, which is part of the Department of Education in the Ministry of Human
Resource -Deve-lopment, has already approved the revised guidelines to
incorporate -integrated education for the disabled children in the DPEP. DPEP
covers the areas of environment building, community mobilization and early
detection, teacher -training, development of innovative designs for primary
schools and removal of architectural barriers in existing schools, provision of
education aids and -appliances and resource support at block/district level.
The Government of India has already set up a core group
comprising government officials, technical experts and voluntary organizations
to examine the relevant provisions of the Act relating to pre-school education,
integrated -education and special education. It will give its recommendations,
which are expected to be submitted and finalized by December 1997.
A workshop on the implementation of the relevant provisions
of the Act was convened on 29 August 1997 in New Delhi. State Education
Secretaries -participated in the workshop and worked out action plans to
strengthen the existing programmes and to ensure the participation of all
children with disabilities in formal and non-formal educational programmes on an
A special scheme covering the establishment and development
of special schools has been implemented since the period 1993-1994. Under the
scheme, voluntary organizations are given the necessary assistance of up to 90
per cent to set up special schools. A special scheme of manpower development has
also been introduced (1991-1992) under which 100 per cent assistance is provided
for running training courses for teachers in the area of cerebral palsy and
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has
set up a committee to look into means of modifying the examination system so as
to make it easier for disabled children to take examinations. The CBSE already
allows provision of the facility of amaenuensis for blind and physically
disabled children when they sit for the tenth standard and twelfth standard
board examinations. It also opened a cell for parents to lodge the grievances of
parents regarding placement of disabled children.
The national institutes of disabilities under the Ministry of
Welfare have been organizing training programmes for special teachers. The University
Grants -Commission (UGC) has taken an initiative by opening
universities and colleges to cater to the needs of disabled children. UGC is
implementing a scheme under which financial assistance will be provided to the
universities for organizing special education programmes for teacher who hold
Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees, to enable them to teach
disabled children. UGC also reserves 30 research associateships every year for
disabled students and scholars.
Training and employment
The Ministry of Labour through the Directorate-General of
Employment and Training (DGE&T) extends its services to persons
with disabilities through a number of schemes. There is a conscious effort to
integrate such persons in nation building.
There is also a network of 915 employment exchanges which
cater for the registration and placement of job seekers including those with
disabilities. -Besides registering and placing in salaried job, the general
employment -exchanges also provide vocational guidance and employment
counselling, -organize career guidance and provide useful career information for
disabled job seekers.
The employment market information programme of the employment
-exchanges gives basic information concerning the employment market which is
used by various sponsoring agencies working for disabled persons. Thus, the
employment exchanges also provide vocational guidance and help persons with
disabilities take up self-employment ventures.
There are 47 special employment exchanges and 41 special
cells in general employment exchanges with the specific objective of helping
persons with -disabi-lities get gainful employment. About 53,000 persons with
disabilities have been employed through these special employment exchanges and
special cells throughout the country.
The National Council of Vocational Training,
an apex non-statutory body set up by the Ministry of Labour, has formulated a
policy of reserving 3 per cent of seats for trainees with locomotor disability
in all industrial training institutes (ITIs) ? in both engineering and
non-engineering groups of trades. Under the Apprenticeship Act, 1961, which aims
at the development of human resources through skills training based on the
latest technology. Some 3 per cent of vacancies are reserved for persons with
disabilities. The Ministry of Labour is also considering a scheme of incentives
to encourage establishments to hire physically disabled persons as apprentices.
The DGE&T runs 17 vocational rehabilitation
centres (VRCs), throughout the country for the different categories of
disability. The VRCs have arrangements to assess residual capacity, training,
evaluation and placement of persons with disabilities. The trainings are
provided free. The Indian government also lends support to the VRC training
programmes by providing stipends to the trainees. This also serves as a catalyst
for non-governmental agencies which assist persons with disability in vocational
The government has planned to establish at least one VRC in
each state and also assist the state governments and local authorities, and NGOs
in establishing vocational rehabilitation centres to cater to disabled persons.
In order to implement the Agenda for Action for the Asian and
Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (hereafter referred to as Asian and Pacific
Decade Agenda for Action), the Ministry of Labour has drafted very ambitious
plans to strengthen the vocational rehabilitation services for disabled persons.
It is setting up 10 more VRCs with skill training workshops
and rural rehabilitation extension centres. These centres will be equipped with
modern and sophisticated instruments, training aids and will be housed in
buildings exclusively designed for disabled persons, keeping in view the
government?s commitment to provide barrier-free and easily accessible structure
Out of the total allocation for plan schemes of the
employment directorate about 37 per cent is proposed to be provided during the
Ninth Five-year Plan exclusively for rehabilitation of disabled persons.
A large number of non-governmental agencies are working in
the area of training, employment and economic rehabilitation of persons with
disabilities throughout the country. There is also a conscious effort to change
over to modern trades suited to new technologies and market demand.
Opportunities for training, however, are limited in the rural areas and unevenly
spread in the country. The Ministry of Labour has a programme of Rural
Rehabilitation Extension Centres (RRECs) where the services of the VRCs
are extended to rural areas through mobile camps and 11 RRECs set up under the
VRCs at Mumbai, Calcutta, Kanpur, Ludhiana and Chennai.
The Ministry of Labour is fully aware of the need to provide
equal opportunities for vocational training and employment for women and girls
with disabilities. Much effort has been made to increase the intake of women and
girls with disabilities in vocational training and integrate them with the
requisite support services into existing vocational training facilities.
A vocational rehabilitation centre for disabled women has
been set up exclusively for rendering vocational rehabilitation services to
disabled women job seekers. There are plans to turn this centre into a regional
vocational -rehabi-litation centre. India also plans to set up nine more such
centres in different parts of the country. These centres will function as
integrated training centres utilizing the facilities available with the regional
vocational centre for women.
The Central Institute for Research and Training in
Employment Service (CIRTES) is responsible for training officers of the
national employment service to sensitize them about the special placement needs
of people with disabilities and for research-related to placement activities.
CIRTES has organized 10 training programmes, which covered
the special placement needs of disabled persons, during 1996 to 1997. In
addition, training programmes for personnel involved in the vocational
rehabilitation of disabled persons are being organized. CIRTES has also
developed career literature for disabled job seekers and their parents. The
posters developed by CIRTES depicting the employability of disabled persons are
being used in campaigns to assess their potentials and vocational skills.
The Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment
recently took an initiative to help disabled rural poor to carry out suitable
economic activities of their choice. Some 3 per cent of the total subsidy budget
under the Integrated Rural Development Programme will be earmarked for providing
revolving fund -assistance of Rs25,000 each to groups or sangams of the disabled
rural poor for such activities. This will be in addition to the existing
provisions of 3 per cent reservation of benefits for individual beneficiaries.
The Viklang Bandhu scheme under the Ministry of Welfare will implement this
Under the Indira Awas Yojana, a housing
scheme for the rural poor, 3 per cent of the benefits have been reserved for the
physically disabled persons living below the poverty line in rural areas.
Similarly, under the Jawahar Rojgar Yojna, a major wage
employment programme for the rural poor, 3 per cent of the funds have been
earmarked for the creation of barrier-free infrastructure for disabled persons
in rural areas.
The National Handicapped Finance and Development
Corporation has been incorporated in January 1997 as a non--profit
company fully funded by the Ministry of Welfare. The paid up share capital of
the Corporation is Rs2 billion and the authorized capital is Rs4 billion. It is
envisaged that the state governments would set up such corporations of their own
or identify channelling agencies for the national corporation in order to ensure
that people with disabilities get full advantage of the new initiative. The main
objectives of the corporation are to promote and support entrepreneurial and
self-employment ventures by people with disabilities. A consultation meeting was
held on 10 July 1997 with the participation of state government officials,
officers from financial institutions and non-voluntary organizations to discuss
the draft guidelines for disbursing the loans to the disabled entrepreneurs. The
corporation is expected to begin operations by December 1997.
Prevention of the causes of disability
In a survey conducted in 1991, the national sample survey organization found
that old age and injuries are the major causes of visual disability. Health and
human development form integral components of socio-economic development of the
nation. As per the Constitution of India, public health, sanitation, hospitals
and dispensaries fall in the state list while the central Government of India is
responsible for implementing programmes of national importance.
India is a signatory state to the Alma Alta declaration which
envisages health for all by the year 2000. The national programme for control of
blindness, national goitre control programme, national mental health programme,
national programme on Japanese encephalitis, leprosy, nutrition, maternal and
child health care programmes constitute the main plank for disability prevention
services through the network of primary health centres, subcentres, district and
There are 22,229 primary health centres, 131,379 sub--centres
and 1,923 community health centres. Disability prevention services, which form
part of the health care scheme, are provided by 599,000 trained dais (mid-wives)
and 417,000 health guides. Child development, nutrition, infant care and
immuni-zation form essential components of the curriculum for training dais and
Early detection in the field level is carried out by
multi-purpose health workers attached to primary health centres, auxiliary
female child minders, -mid-wives attached to sub-centres, anganwadi workers and
balsevikas (female child minders) of the ICDS Programme, village rehabilitation
workers and community-based rehabilitation programmes of the government and
NGOs. There are 290 anganwadi training centres for imparting training to
anganwadi workers and helpers while there are 20 middle-level training centres
for imparting training to supervisors and child development project officers.
Started in 1961 to 1962, the balsevikas training programme implemented welfare
programmes for pre-school children. There are 25 balsevikas training centres,
each conducting one -academic year training course for 50 trainees. Training
programmes for each of these functionaries have adequate inputs for the early
detection of childhood disabilities including mental retardation.
Also in place are early intervention services for infants
at-risk and children having delayed development. With lower infant mortality
rates, babies with genetic defects have greater chances of survival. The early
intervention -programmes, being carried out at more than 50 centres in the
country over the last decade, have shown that early intervention helps improve
the physical and mental functioning of the child. It also enables and encourages
parents in the care and management of such babies in the home setting, with
periodic consultation provided by early intervention centres. It is expected
that, within a decade, such services would be available nationwide.
The major factors leading to various types of disabilities
have already been identified and prevention measures initiated. Such measures
are managed by Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human
Resource Development and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which initiated
various programmes that provide enough micro-nutrients to the mother and child
and other immunization programmes. These programmes will be strengthened during
the period 1997-2002. Public education programmes through the mass media will be
There is a recent thrust towards reaching rehabilitation services to people with
disabilities living in the far-flung rural areas. Here the importance of
community-based rehabilitation (CBR) is well established as it is logistically
difficult and expensive to provide institutional rehabilitation services. The
strategy is to take a multisectoral and decentralized approach in the provision
of services within the community, with appropriate inputs from various sectors.
India has a tradition of family and community-based
initiatives in -rehabi-litation. This provides an inherent strength and a basis
on which successful community initiatives can be built upon. It is further
reinforced by NGOs who have made significant contributions in the area of
community-based rehabilitation, particularly in the southern areas of the
country where considerable expertise and experience have been built up. Another
factor is the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Indian Constitution which has
conferred powers and responsibilities to elected local bodies at the rural (panchayats)
and municipal levels which could be constructively utilized and integrated into
programmes for community-based rehabilitation.
The Ministry of Welfare presently known as Ministry of Social
Justice and Empowerment has proposed a national programme for -rehabi-litation
of persons with disabilities during the Ninth Five-year Plan. It is envisaged
that at the national level, a national centre for disability rehabilitation will
be established. At the state level, a state institute will serve as a resource
centre and also undertake manpower development, research and provide model
At the district level, a district rehabilitation centre will
provide specialist services in rehabilitation and work in tandem with district
hospitals and other bodies concerned with rehabilitation. At the block level,
which comprises 50,000 people, two multi-purpose rehabilitation workers (MRW)
will provide services to people with disabilities, their families, and the
community. The officers will also network with education, labour, social welfare
and health personnel, and NGO agencies in the area. At the Gram Panchayat or
local government level, which comprises a cluster of villages, two CBR workers ?
one male and one female from the area ? will be suitably trained to cater to
about 50,000 people. They will be supported by elected local government as well
as grass-roots functionaries of the concerned departments and non-governmental
agencies. Strategies for implementation at the field level are flexible to
enable state governments to utilize various methods ? government, panchayat or
non--government ? suited to local conditions.
The comprehensive national rehabilitation programme thus
formulated was discussed in a meeting held on 30 June 1997 where the
representatives of the state governments, central government and voluntary
organizations participated. The national level programme will be implemented
during the next five years in a phased manner.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken-up a
pilot project of community-based rehabilitation in five states ? Maharashtra,
Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The all India institute
of physical medicine and rehabilitation in Mumbai is acting as the main
implementing agency and the training of personnel for both professionals and
grass-roots level -functionaries is underway. This programme utilizes the
existing infrastructure of health, women and child development, welfare and
local government sectors in implementing the programme.
Persons with intellectual disabilities are at a greater risk
of exploitation and physical/social abuse by the unscrupulous elements of
society. It has been a major cause of worry to the parents of children with
intellectual disability as to ?what will happen to their children after their
deaths?? A committee formed under the chairmanship of Justice Baharul Islam
suggested the formation of a national trust for intellectual disability with the
a. To provide guardianship and foster care;
b. To strengthen and support the welfare process of families, foster families,
voluntary organizations and the community;
c. To provide legal aid to the mentally disabled persons and their families;
d. To receive, own and manage the bequeathed properties by parents to maintain
intellectually disabled children after their deaths.
The Government of India has decided to set up a statutory
trust to achieve the above objectives. The proposed bill is being drafted with
inputs from voluntary organizations and the parent associations of children with
intellectual disability. Consultation meetings were held in June 1997. After the
final round of discussions, the bill is expected to be formally introduced in
the Lok Sabha in 1998.
The Government has set up 47 special employment exchanges and
41 special cells in the normal employment exchanges. The aim is to help disabled
persons get gainful employment. Some Rs60 million has been allocated for this
project under the Ninth Five-year Plan. About 53,000 disabled persons have been
given placement through these special employment exchanges and cells. In
addition, there are 17 vocational rehabilitation centres. Under the country?s
Apprentices Act, 1961, trainees are trained in various industrial establishments
with 3 per cent of the vacancies reserved for people with disabilities.
About 76 per cent of disabled persons live in rural areas.
The government introduced, on a pilot basis, a scheme to establish District
Rehabilitation Centres (DRC) in the country. They aim to provide rehabilitation
services in rural areas, in 11 selected districts of the country. The centres
have comprehensive rehabilitation responsibilities to all disabled individuals
in the geographical area of the district which has a population ranging between
one to two million persons.
The main objectives of the scheme are:
a To devise suitable delivery systems to reach the entire population in the
geographical area of the
b. To promote the most cost-effective technologies;
c. To restructure the present jobs of rehabilitation professionals, so that the
minimum number of
specialists could be utilized for the delivery of services.
For the purpose of coordination and administration, there is
a Central and Coordination Unit (CACU). Four Regional Rehabilitation Training
Centres (RRTCS) ? one each at Chennai, Mumbai, Cuttack and Lucknow ? have been
set up for imparting training to DRC functionaries. A national information
centre for disability and rehabilitation has been established at the central
State/union territory (UT) governments have rehabilitation
schemes, provide various facilities and concessions. Some of the state
government give pensions to disabled persons. Old age pensions are given at
varying rates by almost all the state/UT governments.
A large number of NGOs have initiated a variety of CBR
programmes for the different categories of disabled persons. Most of these
programmes have been initiated with the assistance of leading international
funding and developmental organizations. India has also developed training
facilities at a number of locations for the training of the CBR field
The Council for Advancement of People?s Action and Rural
Technology (CAPART) has taken initiatives to extend its services to people with
disabilities. It plans to promote CBR of all categories of people with
disabilities through its existing network of thousands of rural development
The Government of India has implemented a scheme through registered
societies, trusts and companies under which assistive devices are provided. They
include mobility devices, wheelchairs, crutches, calipers, hearing aids and
artificial limbs. Such services costing Rs2,500-3,600 are given free to those
having a monthly income of up to Rs1200; and at 50 per cent of the cost to those
having a monthly income from Rs1201-2500.
The total allocation under the scheme was Rs550 million under
the Eighth Five-year Plan. The proposed allocation of funds during the Ninth
Five-year Plan has been projected as Rs1.25 billion. An initiative has been
taken to spread the geographical coverage of the scheme so as to make the
assistive devices available to the rural disabled population living in far-flung
and -un-reached areas. The number of organizations assisted under the scheme has
increased to 140 during 1996-1997. The district level development agencies are
also being -encouraged to take up the responsibility of free and subsidized
distribution of aids and appliances. There is a proposal to revise the scheme
and raise the ceiling of the cost of aids and appliances and the income limit
The science and technology project in mission mode was
launched in 1988 and aims to develop suitable and cost-effective aids and
appliances with the appli-cation of technology, and also to improve the
mobility, employment -opportunities and integration of disabled persons into
Suitable research and development projects are identified and
funded under the scheme on a 100 per cent basis. So far, 49 projects have been
identified for assistance and nine new projects identified for funding in the
current year. About 37 of them are at various stages of completion, some have
been put to commercial production. Among the important projects are those for
the speech synthesizer, computerized Braille embosser, inter-pointing Braille
writing frames, close circuit television with magnification facility,
multi-functional wheelchair, -feeding aids for children with cerebral palsy and
safety devices for use in threshers.
Most of the appliances needed for the education of
visually-disabled persons are made within the country. The National Institute
for the Visually Handicapped is the main producer.
The Ministry of Finance will be asked to relax the customs
duties levied on the import of assistive devices with a view to suggesting
further exemption and simplification of the proceedings.
It has been the policy of the government to consult NGOs and self-help
organizations, and eminent people with disabilities in formulation of all its
policies and programmes for the welfare of disabled persons. In all the
committees and advisory bodies, there is adequate representation of NGOs and
people with disabilities. Several self-help organizations have developed in the
Recently the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
undertook an initiative during 1996-1997, by starting a four-month long training
programme for rural disabled volunteers in rehabilitation. The programme aims to
impart the necessary inputs on disability and rehabilitation related issues
along with knowledge of concessions and facilities provided by the government to
disabled persons. These volunteers are also expected to form the self-help
organizations of disabled persons.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment has
suggested that suitable amendments be made in the integrated rural development -programme
guidelines and provide an assistance of Rs25,000 to the self-help organizations
of disabled persons for taking up suitable economic ventures.
A large number of volunteers are likely to be trained during
the Ninth -Five- year Plan period from 1997 to 2002. A large number of self-help
organizations are expected to be formed during this period.
The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA)
provides assistance for formation of Self-Help Groups for Women and Persons with
Need of the Hour
With the shift in emphasis from providing welfare to ensuring the
rights of disabled persons, the importance of convergence of policies and
programmes in different sectors, so as to provide synergy, has emerged to the
forefront. The efforts of the government, non-governmental and other agencies in
the welfare sector need to be more structured and concerted in approach. India
must also ensure linkages between programmes in all connected sectors such as
education, vocational training and employment, rural and urban development,
health, and women and child development. There must also be optimum utilization
of available resources and holistic rehabilitation for people with disability.