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Expectations from the next government of India - My Take by Jasmina Khanna

In My Take this week, systems analyst Jasmina Khanna who is closely tracking the elections shares her expectations from the government that takes charge next.

With the election fever on in the largest democracy of the world that is India, one important question that has cropped up my mind and that is "What is my expectation from the next government of India as a rightful citizen and as a person with disability?

My answer to it is policy implementation. If existing policies are implemented diligently then I feel 70 to 80% of problems of the disabled people in India will be resolved.

India approximately resides 70 million people with disabilities. Low literacy and high unemployment rates along with social stigma are making disabled people amongst the most neglected and excluded in India. Another big aspect that is being ignored for persons with disabilities in India is proper infrastructure. Non existence of accessible transportation, educational institutions and workplaces is keeping people with disabilities from coming out of the four walls of their homes. If infrastructural barriers are taken care of then people with disability will be able to come out more in numbers thus it will help in breaking the attitudinal barriers of society.

Cast in stone

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 is based on the following key principles that the United Nations General Assembly adopted in its Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December, 2006:

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons.
  • Non-discrimination.
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society.
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity.
  • Equality of opportunity.
  • Accessibility.
  • Equality between men and women.
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

It is sad the above principles are just on paper.

For instance, the government of India has guidelines for infrastructure accessibility but nothing is being implemented at the ground level. If accessibility audit reports are shared with concerned government authorities, they do not respond.

One more thing I would like to point out here is that whenever the government is coming up with new projects like Swach Bharat Abhiyan, they will not think from the perspective of persons with disability. If they have a mission of building new toilets throughout the country why don't they think of building out of five toilets at least one accessible toilet? Toilets are a basic human necessity.

If policies are meant to be just on paper then why do they exist?

Political parties in India cannot afford to ignore the needs of such a large population of people with disabilities. We can prove to be a game maker or a game breaker for them. They have to consider us as a big vote bank. Hence implementation of policies for people with disabilities should be made in to a reality.

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