India, Disability Inclusion, and the Power of ‘By’

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India, Disability Inclusion, and the Power of ‘By’ Blog Image

Why in News?

  • Disability is portrayed as both an identity and a condition that intersects with various vulnerabilities, encompassing social, economic, and gender dimensions.
  • Acknowledging the intersectionality of disability is essential for formulating comprehensive strategies aimed at promoting equity and inclusion.

The Magnitude of Disability and Existing Disparity

  • Global Magnitude of Disability
    • Globally, 1.3 billion people which is roughly equivalent to the entire population of India, live with some form of disability.
    • The sheer magnitude highlights the importance of addressing disability issues on a global scale.
  • Disability Disparities
    • Of the global disabled population, 80% resides in developing countries and this emphasises the higher prevalence of disabilities in less economically developed regions.
    • A significant portion, 70%, of people with disabilities are situated in rural areas, highlighting the need for targeted interventions in these regions.

Current Challenges Faced by Persons with Disabilities

  • Exclusionary Practices
    • Current systems are often designed without considering the needs of persons with disabilities, resulting in exclusionary practices.
    • The consequence is a higher likelihood of individuals with disabilities experiencing poverty, limited access to education, reduced opportunities, and various forms of social and economic discrimination.
    • The inclusion of persons with disabilities into the economy can help boost global GDP between 3% to 7%, as per the study by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
  • Employment Challenges
    • The current employment scenario is limiting for persons with disabilities, perpetuating stereotypes and creating barriers to entry into the labour market.
    • This goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which emphasises the need to change attitudes and perceptions towards disability inclusion.
  • Greater Rural Challenges in Disability Inclusion
    • Rural areas in India face greater challenges in disability inclusion, with limited access to education and employment.
    • Persons with disabilities in rural areas are sometimes viewed as objects of charity rather than active participants.

The Spark Project

  • The ILO 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.

Steps to Be Taken to Implement Disability Inclusion Effectively

  • Formulation of Comprehensive Inclusive Policies
    • There is a necessity of rethinking and redesigning systems and policies to be more inclusive and considerate of the needs of persons with disabilities.
    • Addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities requires a holistic approach that encompasses social, economic, and gender dimensions.
  • Crucial Distinction in Disability Inclusion: ‘For’ and ‘By’
    • The distinction between "for" and "by" becomes crucial in the context of disability inclusion.
    • "For" implies actions or initiatives done on behalf of persons with disabilities, while "by" signifies involvement and participation of persons with disabilities in the process.
    • When the approach is "by" persons with disabilities, it emphasises their active involvement and contribution to the process.
    • This approach recognises persons with disabilities as agents capable of actively participating in decision-making, planning, and implementation.
    • The inclusion "by" persons with disabilities implies an acknowledgment of their agency and the importance of their perspectives in shaping initiatives.
    • Using "by" helps avoid tokenism, where actions are done merely on behalf of persons with disabilities without genuinely involving them.
    • It promotes a more authentic and meaningful form of inclusion where persons with disabilities play an integral role in decision-making.
  • Collaborative Process with Persons with Disabilities: The true disability inclusion involves a collaborative process where persons with disabilities are not passive recipients but active contributors.
  • Implementation of Bottom-Up Approach
    • A bottom-up approach is crucial for disability inclusion in rural areas, ensuring that persons with disabilities are recognised as active contributors to society and the economy.
    • The private sector is identified as a key player in promoting employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
  • Attitudinal Shift and Social Justice
    • The SPARK project has contributed to an attitudinal shift towards persons with disabilities at both societal and administrative levels.
    • Achieving social justice requires the prioritisation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development, starting with rural areas.
  • Link Poverty and Sustainable Development Goals
    • There is research that suggest a bi-directional link between disability inclusion and poverty, nutrition, and hunger.
    • To address the historic marginalisation of persons with disabilities and ensure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, a fundamental shift in commitment, solidarity, financing, and action is deemed critical.
  • Global Prioritisation of Disability Inclusion
    • There is an urgent need to prioritise the voices and needs of persons with disabilities at the centre of the global development agenda.
    • This calls for a comprehensive commitment to inclusivity, recognising that true development requires the active participation of all, including persons with disabilities.


  • The multifaceted nature of disability transpires the intersectionality of vulnerabilities related to social, economic, and gender factors.
  • Also, the distinction in linguistic nuances of using ‘for’ and ‘by’ is crucial in fostering genuine inclusion, where individuals with disabilities are not just recipients but active agents in the processes that affect them.
  • To address this effectively there is a need for inclusive policies and systemic changes to ensure equity and social justice in the discourse surrounding disabilities.

Q1) What is the ILO and what is its purpose?

The International Labor Organization (ILO) is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that labour peace is essential to prosperity.

Q2) What is the Disabled Rights Act 2016?

The Act adopted an approach of social welfare in respect of PWD and the main focus was on prevention and early detection of disabilities, education and employment of the PWD. The Act also provided 3% reservation in Government jobs and educational institutions.

Source: The Hindu