According to the Census of 2011, India is home to 2.68 crore individuals with disabilities, many of whom fall below the poverty line.
While the government has a slew of social security schemes and measures in place to empower People with Disabilities (PwDs), accessing these benefits often means working through a maze of red-tape and corruption.
Disability certificates are not universally accepted and sometimes differ from state to state. Often, this translates into undergoing the cumbersome process of tests and reviews over and over again, delaying access to benefits and resulting in harassment at the hands of doctors and government officials.
In a bid to stem this growing menace, the government has announced the launch of a multi-purpose unique identity card for persons with disabilities.
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The ID cards will be valid across the country and will go a long way in ushering in transparency and accountability in the system.
The National Informatics Centre (NIC), Department of Electronic and Information Technology will play a crucial role in implementing the project.
“NIC will prepare a centralised database to help identify PwDs by collating data from the census and state governments. They will also design the unique ID and recommend its implementation mechanism,” an official told The Hindustan Times.
The government is considering the possibility of hiring implementation agencies to coordinate with state governments to issue the ID cards.
Explaining the process of verification and data entry, the official said: “The agencies will be provided with a hand held device to scan the disability certificates, take photographs or collect biometrics of the beneficiary. Once the scanned disability certificate is available, the data entry operator can centrally verify and enter the data into the database for issuance of a unique ID card.”
In addition to empowering Persons with Disabilities and ensuring their ease of access to government schemes, the ID card will also help create a national database for PwDs with information about their educational qualification, their place of employment as well as their income.
Explains Vinod Aggarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, “Data and statistics on persons with disabilities is key to their inclusion in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.”
“Disability is recognised as a consequence and cause of poverty. Eradication of poverty, the overarching objective of the Agenda 2030, will remain a distant dream without fully realising their potential and contribution in the vision of sustainable development,” he told The Indian Express.
The government also announced its decision to launch the first Central University for Disability Studies and Research in Kerala.