The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 that came into force on April 19, 2017, has empowered India's divyang population in many ways. The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
It fulfils the obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which India ratified in 2007. Applicable all over the country, this Act mandates the appropriate government to take measures to promote education, skill development, social security, health, rehabilitation and recreation for Divyangjans.
Through the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the government increased the percentage of reservation in government jobs from 3 percent to 4 percent and from 3 percent to 5 percent in seats in government/ government aided higher educational institutions for persons with benchmark disabilities.
The broad components in the Scheme for Implementation of Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (SIPDA) entail:
Creation of a barrier-free environment for Divyangjans,
National Action Plan for Skill Development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs),
Accessible India Campaign,
Establishment of District Disability Rehabilitation Centre (DDRC) in the Identified Districts, and
Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Project.
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched in March 2015 the National Action Plan to equip them with skills. National Job Portal is being maintained by National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC), a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department.
The Swavlamban Health Insurance Schemefor Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) was launched by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The objective of the scheme is to provide affordable health insurance to Persons with Disabilities and to improve the general health condition and quality of life of divyangjans.
Another scheme of the DePwD that has been hailed by the target beneficiaries is the Unique Disability Identification Project. These unique ID cards actually save Divyangjans the trouble of carrying multiple copies of documents. 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 Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP) scheme, funds are released to various implementing agencies to assist the needy persons with disabilities in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances.
This noble endeavour is aimed at promoting their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential throughout the country.
The Accessible India Campaign launched on December 3, 2015 is a nationwide campaign for achieving universal accessibility. It focuses on enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and information and communication ecosystem for the benefit of Divyangjans.
The Deen Dayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS), executed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities provides grant-in-aid to non-government organisations/ voluntary organisations for projects aimed at rehabilitation of Divyangjans.
The Department implements sector umbrella scheme where scholarships are given across the country to students with are given across disabilitie These scholarships are for Class IX and X students as well as students pursuing studies post matric.
Apart from the Divyangjans, senior citizens who are a treasure of knowledge and experience, deserve care and concern as well. Care of senior citizens forms a crucial mandate of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
According to Census 2011, the population of senior citizens in India is 10.36 crore which was 8.56 percent of the total population of the country.
The report finds out that the Old Age Dependency Ratio has been steadily rising during the past three decades. The number of elderly persons has increased from 1.98 crore in 1951 to 7.6 crore in 2001.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007 was enacted to ensure need-based maintenance for parents and senior citizens and their welfare.
The Government has introduced 'The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019' in the Parliament which seeks to amend the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The existing National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) envisaged support to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter and other needs of older persons, equitable share in development, protection against abuse and exploitation, and availability of services to improve the quality of their lives.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has conceptualised and rolled out the National Action Plan for Senior Citizens (NAPSrC), which is based on the National Policy for Older Persons 1999 and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007. The action plan includes the following 10 components encompassing the needs of senior citizens.
According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the NAPSrC would operate as an umbrella scheme for senior citizens with the merger of Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens.
The Ministry is implementing a Central Sector Scheme of Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens (IPSrC) under which grant is given for running and maintenance of Senior Citizens Homes (old age homes)/Continuous Care Homes, Mobile Medicare Units.
Under the Rashtirya Vayoshri Yojana, aids and assistive living devices are provided to senior citizens belonging to BPL category who suffer from age-related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and loco-motor disabilities.
Besides the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, other ministries also run schemes for senior citizens:-
The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), for example, is a centrally-sponsored social security/social welfare programme meant for old widows, disabled persons and bereaved families belonging to below poverty line households who have lost their primary bread winner, is implemented by Ministry of Rural Development.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (HFW) has been implementing National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) to provide dedicated financial year healthcare services to the elderly people at various levels of state health care delivery system.
The Varishta Pension Bima Yojana, launched by the LIC, provides its beneficiaries a steady 8 percent per annum interest rate for a period of 10 years. Unlike other schemes, one doesn't have to go through any medical check-ups to avail its benefits.