India: Coping with apathy and non-compliance

Sathi Alur & Malini Chib

The biggest challenge facing people with disabilities in India is the lack of awareness and apathy among the general population. An equal or bigger challenge is the lack of a safety net or social security from the state to support individual people with disabilities – a significant difference between developing and developed countries.

The compliance report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) from India makes clear how vast the difference is between what is provided in the convention and what the situation is on the ground. What the UNCRPD has done is give a better focus to the disability movement to seek compliance in national policy-making. More important, however, will be to monitor resource allocation, and the effective direction of these resources to those most in need. The structures of delivery are woefully inadequate, and much needs to be done to establish a quick response link to individuals with disabilities. As ever, India is among the early ratifiers of UN-type declarations and conventions. The difficulty is in delivery of content.

Yet, a great deal has changed over the last 40 or so years. No longer is there any serious debate among policy-makers as to the need to provide education and other opportunities for disabled people. However, this is an ongoing challenge and nothing is guaranteed. Constant vigilance is the only way for the movement of disabled people to achieve a modicum of support from the state.

The best advocacy is self-advocacy – the greater the voices of disabled people, the more effective the message and the better the policy responses.

About the author:

Sathi Alur is the Governing Board Member of ADAPT (formerly The Spastics Society of India)

Malini Chib is Founder and Co-Chairperson of ADAPT Rights Group


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