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Disabled People Call for Political Recognition and Action, Release Manifesto

These 10 demands are of utmost importance to people with disabilities but these need to be placed in the five-year programs and election campaigning of political parties.

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National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), in collaboration with the National Disability Network (NDN) organized a Press Conference to launch the Manifesto for and by Citizens with Disabilities at The Press Club of India on 29th of February 2024. Photo: Vikram Raj for Outlook
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Organisations working in the field of disability rights—including the National Centre for the Promotion of the Employment of Disabled Persons (NCPEDP) and the National Disability Network (NDN)—have developed a great idea: a Manifesto for and By the Citizens with Disabilities. By seeking a reservation for disabled people in the upcoming national parliamentary elections, the manifesto released last week will ensure that the views and opinions of disabled people will be addressed by the ruling government and voting blocs.

The voices of disabled persons swelled across the country, as Arman Ali, Executive Director of NCPEDP, explained about the growing role of this community in India's socioeconomic well-being. In addition to the 7% of the population that belongs to minority groups; and the over 1 crore members of the electorate, it is also important to note that their impact cannot be underestimated. "Therefore, they aren't only their huge voting sizes but most importantly, they are also the customers of goods and services and to the economy at large, hence social-economic growth and the GDP of the country," Ali said.

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The Disability Manifesto, a result of the sum up of the paragraphs done at the national and regional consultations, describes the key issues and calls of the disabled society. Over 10,000 people from various backgrounds, together with the NCRPD, provided their suggestions and views towards the needs of people living with disabilities. Such an inclusive process produced a broad guideline document capturing not only the diversity but also the fundamental needs and wants of the disabled population.

These 10 demands are of utmost importance to people with disabilities but these need to be placed in the five-year programs and election campaigning of political parties. The different forms propose diverse solutions ranging from budgetary discussions to health insurance, accessibility, pension schemes, social cohesion, employment opportunities, climate change, gender balance, sport and education.

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The Ten Demands

Budgetary Allocation - Allocate 5% of the total budget for persons with disabilities, release disability budget statement.

Health Insurance – Announce a policy that promotes affordable and accessible health insurance & protects people with disabilities from non-discrimination. Announce a scheme which is in line with Ayushman Bharat for persons with disabilities.

Accessibility - Make all public and private spaces/products/services accessible to disabled people by 2026. Introduce compliance guidelines for businesses.

Social Security – Increase the monthly pension to Rs 5,000/- for disabled people under the National Social Assistance Program; prioritise disability linkage in social security schemes.

Socio-Political Inclusion - Amend Article 15 to include the word disability; provide 5% reservation in governance; reservation & nomination of people with disabilities in Rajya Sabha by the President of India.

Economic Participation – Fill backlog vacancies by 2027; introduce the “Access to Work” scheme; for providing Reasonable Accommodation to ensure disability inclusion in MSME programs.

Climate Change - Form a dedicated Climate Change Mission for vulnerable communities; ensure real-time data collection for the disabled in disaster management.

Gender Equality - Establish a sub-scheme for digital literacy and smartphone access for girls & women with disabilities; announce policies that promote equal participation & protect women and girls with disabilities against violence and abuse.

Sports - Establish state-of-the-art Sports Infrastructure based on the principles of Universal Design for para-athletes.

Education - Implement a data-driven strategy for enhanced enrolment and completion of mainstream education for disabled children by 2029. Ensure the enrolment rate in higher education is in line with the National Gross Average, i.e. 23.4%.

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Arman stated that it was imperative to surpass issues peculiar to the disabled and emphasized employment, accessibility, and education that should not be excused at any point. He requested that all political parties incorporate a separate slate of issues, issues related to persons with disabilities, in their objectives as well as integrate disability-specific concerns into every policy and scheme.

The launching of the manifesto was attended by senior officials from diverse disability advocacy organizations; this reflected the collective vision of a more uniting society that everyone can enjoy.

Pradeep Raj, another member of the panel and a National Award Winning para-athlete said, “The Disability Manifesto should be viewed as a beacon that is directed at political parties, encouraging them to seize this opportunity to prioritize the rights of people living with disabilities and cater to their needs in their policy action plans, and ultimately having their nation attain a status where every citizen can take part and add their contribution in nation building.”

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