Reservation Quotas for Persons Living With Disabilities in National Poverty Alleviation Schemes Under-Utilized
New Delhi - A new report commissioned by the Planning Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Livelihood Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities examines complex issues around promoting livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities.
India’s 11th Five Year Plan and Approach Paper to the 12th Five-Year Plan envisages an inclusive approach towards persons with disability and promised special attention to differently-abled people. Nevertheless, skills and potential of most people living with disability remain untapped, under-utilized or under developed. People living with disabilities are amongst the most impoverished in the country.
According to Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Member, Planning Commission, Government of India, “This study supported by UNDP focuses on building a scientific knowledge base towards implementing larger-scale, sustained and more effective interventions to improve the livelihood options of PwDs in India in the coming years. I am sure the document will be useful for the forthcoming Five-Year Plan.”
While three percent of employment and livelihoods schemes are reserved for persons with disabilities, available data reveals that this reservation is not fully utilized in most states excepting Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
As the Report notes, measuring the number of people living with disability continues to be a challenge. This affects policy making, planning and budgeting for programmes targeting people with disability. As a result, the report finds a gap of 11.69 percent in literacy rate between general population and persons with disabilities. Further, employment rates for persons with disabilities are lower than for the general population.
According to Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, UNDP India, “Development can be inclusive and reduce poverty only if all groups have access to opportunities, share the benefits of development processes, and participate effectively in decision making. There is significant scope to build an enabling environment that ensures the inclusion of people with disabilities in national and local development processes.”
The Report outlines several recommendations. There is a need to standardize and adopt a uniform definition of disability across government departments, policies and civil society organizations. As the Report of the Sub Group on Economic Empowerment of PwDs notes, concerted efforts should be made to address a the backlog of vacancies in all Ministries, Departments and Public Sector Undertakings at both Central and State levels. To strengthen enterprise development amongst people with disabilities, it is recommended that delivery mechanisms of the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation include a grant component in addition to local support. Personal accounts from persons with disabilities reinforced the Report’s recommendations, highlighting their achievements against all odds. This was followed by a high level round table discussion among senior government officials, from central and state governments, the Planning Commission and civil society organizations working with persons with disability moderated by Ms. Wiesen.
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