Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Act, 2016
- The Act fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory and subsequently ratified the same on 1st October, 2007.
- Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
- The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
Rights and entitlements
- All Government institutions of higher education and those getting aid from the Government are required to reserve at least 5% of seats for persons with benchmark disabilities.
- 4% reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities is to be provided in posts of all Government establishments with differential quotas for different forms of disabilities.
- Incentives to employers in the private sector are to be given who provide 5% reservation for persons with benchmark disability. Special employment exchanges for the PWD are to be set up.
Establishment of Authorities
- Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy making bodies at the Central and State level.
- The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and also monitor implementation of the Act.
Why in News?
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has recently issued a notification saying that Section 34 of the RPD Act, which provides for 4% reservation in jobs for PwD in government establishments, would not apply to all categories of posts of IPS, the Indian Railway Protection Force Service and police forces of Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
- The Ministry also issued another notification making a distinction between combat and non-combat roles in the security forces. The Ministry exempted all combat posts in the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Sashastra Seema Bal and the Assam Rifles from the non-discrimination and reservation provisions of the RPD Act.
- Many rights groups have criticised the move saying it goes against the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. They said that exemptions should be granted only in cases of combatant roles in keeping with the intent and spirit of the RPD Act.
- One rights activist said there were many roles that PwD could fill within police forces and exempting all categories of roles was wrong.
Status of the disabled
- The Delhi High Court had cited the abysmally low literacy and employment rates among persons with disabilities.
- The 2001 Census put the illiteracy rate among the disabled at 51% which was much higher than the general population figure.
- Also there was similar evidence of their inadequate representation in employment too.
Initiatives for welfare of Disabled Persons
- As per the Census 2011, there are 2.68 crore persons with disabilities (Divyangjans) in the country. The Government of India has started various initiatives to empower India’s divyang population in many ways.
Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan)
- It was launched in 2015 by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) as a nation-wide Campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). It aims at providing equal opportunity to PwDs to participate in all the aspects of life and live independently.
- The Accessible India Campaign comprises of the following three components:
- Built Environment Accessibility: It aims to provide an accessible physical environment for everyone. To achieve this, measures need to be undertaken to eliminate obstacles and barriers to indoor and outdoor facilities including schools, medical facilities, and workplaces.
- Transportation System Accessibility: It focuses on providing persons with disabilities an equal right to travel and use public and private transportation infrastructure with dignity and independence.
- Information and Communication Eco-System Accessibility: Access to information refers to all information. This can range from actions such as being able to read price tags, to physically enter a hall, to participate in an event, to read a pamphlet with healthcare information, to understand a train timetable, or to view webpages.
Other important initiatives
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the National Job Portal for Persons with Disabilities (www.disabilityjobs.gov.in) in 2015. Divyangjans can apply through the portal for jobs, skill training, scholarships, education loans and self-employment loans.
- The Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme for PwDs was launched with the objective of providing affordable health insurance to Persons with Disabilities.
- Another scheme of the DEPwD is the Unique Disability Identification Project started in 2016-17. The UDID card will be the single document of identification, verification of the Divyangjans for availing various benefits in future.
- Under the Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing/fitting of aids/appliances (ADIP) scheme, funds are released to various implementing agencies to assist the needy persons with disabilities in procuring modern, standard aids and appliances.
- The Deen Dayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS), executed by DePwD provides grant-in-aid to NGOs/voluntary organisations for projects aimed at rehabilitation of Divyangjans.