ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Just Step Forward

The disabilities bill is welcome, but falls short on some key issues.

Disability activists have campaigned for many years for a disability law. Finally, on 14 December, the Rajya Sabha passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, first introduced in the house in February 2014. This bill, replacing the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, is a big step forward in addressing the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in India. The 119 amendments to the bill were cleared by the cabinet on 1 December.

According to the 2011 Census, there are 2.68 crore (2.21% of the population) PWDs in India. This underestimation is indicative of the flaw in the 1995 act’s inclusion of only seven conditions as disabilities. The amendments bring 21 conditions under the ambit of the bill (as they do a previously excluded Jammu and Kashmir). This is sure to increase our estimates of the number of PWDs in the country.

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