The official estimates of disabled persons in India, obtained through the latest Population Census and National Sample Survey Organisation’s comprehensive surveys on disability, put the figure as about 21 million (roughly around 2 percent of the population) at the beginning of the new millennium. However, estimates vary across sources and a new World Bank Report on disabled persons in India, has observed that there is growing evidence that people with disabilities comprise between 5 and 8 per cent of the Indian population (around 55 – 90 million individuals). There is a common concern that disabled persons are among the most excluded ones in the development process of the country. For an effective and efficient policy intervention to improve the lots of the disabled persons, it is of utmost importance to get a clear idea of the dimension of disability in India. Although government and the public sector would have to play a key role in this endeavour, it may be neither feasible, nor desirable for them to do it all. Further, there is wide heterogeneity in the situation and the policy requirements of different groups of disabled persons in India. There are major differences in social attitudes to different types of disability, coupled with variations due to gender, class, place of residence (rural / urban) etc.
Currently this group of Indian society remains neglected and hidden, given very few options of survival and livelihood. The government’s plans for pension are available but at best provide not more than $ 20 per person per month. In today’s demanding age of expenses, that would hardly be sufficient to meet any basic needs. These people lived in impoverished conditions, surviving on scarce meals, almost negligent health care and supervision; leading to chronic diseases, malnutrition, and eventually death.
At our centre in Jabalpur, we provide life care to about 9 residents who are between the age of 18 years and 34 years. They love being a part of our centre. Some of them go to school, while others participate in daily life activities like paper bag making. We have a small farm, with some goats, rabbits, etc. They enjoy coloring, music and watching television. As we progress, we plan to develop a special training unit in the building to bring in some more skills to provide our residents with new ideas. We also plan to bring this skill training to other local people in the city who are equally challenged and could use this therapy to improve their opportunities in life.