Disability Inclusion in India

Why in news:

There need to be more inclusive opportunities and employment in the rural areas as a majority of persons with disabilities live there.


  • Disability is not a standalone issue but intersects with social, economic, and gender vulnerabilities.
  • Recognizing and addressing the multifaceted nature of these vulnerabilities is crucial for effective action.

Quantum of disability:

  • Globally, 1.3 billion people (which is equivalent to nearly the entire population of India) live with some form of disability.
  • Of them, 80% live in developing countries; further, 70% of them live in rural areas.

Issues with the current approach to address concerns of disability:

  • Current systems are often designed without considering the needs of persons with disabilities, leading to exclusionary practices. This lead to:
    • Higher instances of poverty,
    • Lack of access to education and opportunities,
    • Informality and other forms of social and economic discrimination.
  • The current employment scenario not only creates entry barrier for people with disability but also gives only limited opportunity to disabled.

Disadvantaged faced by rural population:

  • They have  limited access to education and employment.
  • Some developmental schemes, too, exclude them.
  • They are viewed as objects of charity and not as persons with agency with an ability to participate in decision-making processes.
  • Various challenges in rural areas further increase their vulnerability such as:
    • High agricultural dependence
    • Risk of climate calamities arising from rising sea levels, reduced access to clean water and food, hurricanes, heatwaves and floods.

Various steps taken to address the concern of disabled people:

  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, advocates changing attitudes and perceptions towards persons with disabilities and viewing inclusion from a social development dimension.
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2016) ensures a unique id for persons with disabilities (UDID) card.

Steps that are needed:

  • Disability inclusion is rooted in assuring the rights of persons with disabilities and recognizing the economic benefits of inclusion.
  • To ensure this the first step is awareness to ensure last-mile connectivity of the benefits enumerated for people with disabilities by the government.
  • It begins with the capacity-building of community leaders who can advocate for this at the grass-roots level.
  • A bottom-up approach to disability inclusion is crucial to build productive pathways out of poverty and ensure that persons with disabilities are recognized as active members of society and the economy.
  • The private sector holds a key in promoting the employment of persons with disabilities. To ensure this following steps need to be taken :
    • Engage with the private sector and build the confidence of companies to hire and retain workers with disabilities.
  • Additionally, engagement of employers’ federations, including small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as with trade unions have great potential to promote the employment of persons with disabilities.

Case Study (The SPARK project)

  • The International Labour Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in collaboration with the Women’s Development Corporation in Maharashtra, are implementing the Sparking Disability Inclusive Rural Transformation (SPARK) project.
  • Through this project, persons with disabilities were put in the lead, being identified from the villages, and trained as Disability Inclusion Facilitators (DIFs).
  • The DIFs engage with the community, persons with disabilities, caregivers of persons with disabilities, women from self-help groups and other stakeholders to raise awareness about disability inclusion and barriers to inclusion.
  • The DIFs identify women with disabilities and mainstream them in existing self-help groups for social and economic development, where these women have been able to access funds to start an enterprise.
  • The SPARK project has been able to bring an attitudinal shift towards persons with disabilities, right from the societal to administrative levels.


  • The goal of social justice cannot be achieved without the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all spheres of development, starting with rural areas and rural resilience.
  • Evidence shows a bi-directional link to poverty, nutrition, and hunger therefore, there needs to be more inclusive opportunities and employment in rural areas.
  • Given the historic marginalization of persons with disabilities and the backsliding of the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, a fundamental shift in commitment, solidarity, financing and action is critical.
  • It is about time that the voices and needs of persons with disabilities be prioritized at the center of the global development agenda.

Subject: Social Justice

Topic: Vulnerable section of the society.

Issues: Welfare schemes, mechanisms, laws and institutions related to disabled.

Scroll to Top