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Volume 3 Issue 13 - July 01, 2005

Ministry of Social Justice releases Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities

DNIS News Network -The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has come out with Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities and sought suggestions from individuals/organisations that “may be taken care of at the time of finalisation.”

The draft posted on the Ministry’s website is preceded by a note that attempts to explain the need for a national policy, both in terms of addressing the shortcoming of the present approach and new “understanding” on issues related to disability over the years.

Despite confessions of shortcomings in the census data collection methods that have resulted in a rather underplayed figure of total population of persons with disabilities, the draft begins by quoting 2.13 per cent of the total population as being disabled.

It goes on to detail so-called achievements of the ministry in terms of institutions set for dealing with the issues of disability, namely the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, National Trust and Rehabilitation Council of India. It is significant to note here that the Disabled Rights Group recently raised a demand for a new Ministry or at least transferring of the subject of disability to the Human Resource Development Ministry. They alleged that the current Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Meira Kumar, had failed in even getting the offices functional, as these remain practically headless.

On the rationale of why the Ministry wants a national policy, it says:“At present, there is no formally stated policy document with disabilities.”

“Many state governments do not have comprehensive approach to education, training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities…. Persons with Disabilities are often not aware of the services and benefits available to them. In order to ensure better coordination between various wings of the state and central governments as well as to reassure the people with disabilities a minimum level of services, this policy is being formulated,” the note states.

('The Draft National Policy for Persons with Disabilities can be downloaded from here')

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