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Source - National Initiatives for Poverty Alleviation of Persons with Visual Impairment    

AWARENESS OF OTHER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES IN THE COMMUNITY. FAMILIARIZING WITH POVERTY ALLEVIATION PROGRAMMES

 

NATIONAL INITIATIVES FOR POVERTY ALLEVIATION OF PERSONS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT  

Legislation

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.

Financing

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.

Tax Deduction

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).

Rewards
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.

Barrier-free Environment
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 implementation.

Education
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 national level.

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 programme.

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 equal basis.

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 mental disability.

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 rehabilitation.

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 for them.

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 proposal.

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 teaching hospitals.

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 health guides.

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 enhanced.

Rehabilitation services
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 services.

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 following objectives:
a. To provide guardianship and foster care;
b. To strengthen and support the welfare process of families, foster families, parent association,
    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 their
    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
   district;
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 level.

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 functionaries.

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 organizations.

Assistive devices
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 per month.

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 mainstream society.

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.

Self-help organizations
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 country.

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 disabilities.

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.

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