Disability rights movement: a paradigm shift

Shrabanti Sen

With the development in history India has witnessed a major shift in the realm of public sphere. During the World War II era there had been major development in the sphere of Women’s Rights, Agricultural Rights of Farmers, Dalit Movement and many other social issues were protested. This was a major change in the domain of public sphere. With the constant change in society people became more aware and social issues were being voiced. The emergence of NGO’s in India during 1970’s and 1980’s issues like the Labor Rights, Education for All, Child Rights came to the forefront. The series of these development gave way to the Disability Rights Movement in India (DRM). The “differently-able” united among themselves raged against all odds from the caste, creed, sex system and started protesting for their own rights. For a very long time history has witnessed discrimination, humiliation, disrespect towards the family and Person with Disability. Among few practical problems which hindered the growth and progress of the Disability Movement, one is ignorance. This ignorance hindered the progress till the 1980’s even after 40years of Independence. In 1970’s and 1980’s people saw the constant battle between few aware individuals against the state. These individuals were mainly families of the “differently-abled” who were economically strong and could provide their children with adequate Rehabilitation. A huge change was marked with the emergence of Rehabilitation Council of India in 1986 to subsidize and regulate the policies of Rehabilitation towards people who are differently-able. With this development the DRM gained momentum and gave rise to a series of development like the Person with Disability Act, UNCRPD which marked a huge change in the area of Disability Rights Movement. These changes has given impetus to the growth of DRM but, India still is not a barrier free country. PWD still cannot move freely in the society, have to struggle to be a part of a mainstream school, has limited employment opportunities. Therefore, the primary concern still remains the appropriate Rehabilitation of PWD.

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