Despite legal safeguards and international conventions, the state has failed to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in general and those with psychological disabilities in particular. Discuss in the context of India.

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) means people with a physical, mental, or intellectual impairment that hinders their full and effective participation in society equally with others. According to the census of 2011, 2.21% of the population suffers from some kind of disability.

Legal and International safeguards for PWDs:

  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016
    • Reservation in jobs
    • Reservation in educational institutions
    • Identify 21 disabilities including mental illness
  • Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992
  • Mental Healthcare Act 2017
  • India has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Adoption of Incheon strategy to “make the right real” for PWDs in Asia and the pacific.

Challenges faced by PWDs despite available safeguards:

  • Social barriers – only 55% PWDs are literate and only 36% of PWDs are working.
  • Attitudinal barriers – stereotyping, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.
  • Poverty and disability reinforce each other.
  • Policy barriers – lack of awareness and enforcement.
  • Accessibility barriers – with respect to the design and construction of buildings, roads, etc.
  • Psycho-social disabilities like Autism, cerebral palsy, depression and anxiety are still not acknowledged as disabilities in the majority of Indian social setup.

Causes for failure of the state in upholding the rights of PWDs:

  • Disabled are often considered liabilities.
  • Lack of adequate data with the state for proper inclusion in various schemes.
  • Poor implementation of mental health services, and absence of evidence-based treatment.
  • The social stigma associated with PWDs keeps families from coming out for help and assistance.

India needs to take various reforms in line with the aims and objectives of Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (Accessible India Campaign), making infrastructure and services more accessible & inclusive for PWDs.

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