Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said the government was planning to bring a new law that will ensure dignity and equality to the disabled people. India has an estimated 60 million disabled.
He also said the government was taking various initiatives that will empower the disabled.”Various initiatives are being taken to address concerns of persons with disabilities,” the prime minister said at the inaugural session of a two-day conference here of state ministers of welfare and social justice.
“But I do recognize that we have to do much more in this regard,” he added.”The expert group of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is drafting a new law in place of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995,” he added.The government is planning to replace the old disability act with a new legislation that will be suitably aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), that means a paradigm shift from charity and welfare to rights and empowerment of people with disabilities.
The prime minister said after consulting state governments and other stakeholders, the bill will be introduced in the parliament.Referring to problems faced by people with disabilities in obtaining disability certificates, he said the central government had amended its rules to create a simple and decentralised mechanism.”One of the continuing traumas of our disabled sisters and brothers is obtaining disability certificates. The central rules under the Persons with Disabilities Act have been amended in December, 2009 to enable the issue of certificates through a simple and decentralised institutional mechanism,” he added.He requested state governments to follow the template on a priority basis. “This will to some extent, ameliorate the sufferings of differently-abled persons,” he urged.The prime minister said steps have been taken to provide for the healthcare,
security and well-being of senior citizens but a lot needs to be done.”We should use the services of panchayats and senior citizens’ associations and other community-based groups to sensitize and re-orient the law enforcement machinery to the vulnerability and special protection needs of older persons,” he added.