Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Census of India-2011 to determine the correct number of Citizen with Disabilities

Dear friends,

So far the citizens with disability in India have been getting a raw deal in terms of budgetary allocation in the annual budgets as well as the five year plans. Despite 3% reservation mandate in the Persons with Disabilities Act-1995, in all Government schemes, the confusion had prevailed whether it is only of a particular ministry or a scheme or the overall budget of each ministry.

While the disability groups have been claiming later and also Govt. of India agreeing to it to a greater extent this year which manifest in the almost double allocation for Disability in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Govt of India - which is seen as pro-disability move of the Congress Government, however, this alone is not sufficient because of the simple reason that the head count undertaken in Census 2001 was highly unreliable according to the activists. And the budget allocation still continues on the old 2.13% figure!

Later years we have seen conflicting reports on the head count from NSSO, World Bank Report in 2007 and WHO estimates as well as the "70 Million" claim of disability rights activists. The disability numbers from various other developing and developed nations indicates that there was some systemic error in the head count done in Census 2001.

Whatever may be the reason, but the end sufferer has been the common citizen with disability. The country could not plan for this uncounted segment and they continue to live in penury without any state support for many for the welfare and empowerment schemes are based on the old & unreliable estimates. Often there are situations of conflict within the sector to lay claim on the little amount budgeted & available for their empowerment. Therefore, this time around the Disability Sector doesn't want to leave any room for such blunders that happened ten years ago.

They have taken up this task which is well timed. The idea is to look at the systemic lacunae in the way research statistics are collected. Right Questionnaire being administered by right and trained people is a must to get any reliable statistics. The training gain significance when the country is as huge as India with 2.7 million people going door-to-door for data collection!

We hope the master trainers sensitized and trained on the data collection mechanism and the questionnaire suggested by the Disability Sector will set ball rolling towards a more disabled friendly Census in India in the coming year.

SC Vashishth

Here is the news item from IANS. Click here to read from source: 2011 census to probe how many are disabled

New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) If all goes well, the 2011 census will refine its questionnaire in a bid to determine how many to Indians really suffer from disability.

The 2001 census came up with a figure of 2.13 percent of the Indian population. This, experts say, is way off the mark.  And since government schemes are based on statistics, it is important to get the estimates right.

As a first step, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), an NGO, Monday convened a meeting with various stakeholders to frame questions to determine the size of the disabled population while conducting the census.

C. Chandramouli, the registrar general and census commissioner of India, said he would present the questions to the technical advisory committee for approval.

'Despite a sizeable disabled population, the 1991 census did not have any statistic on it. In 2001, after year-long consultations with NGOs, at the very last moment one question on disability was included in the census,' said Javed Abidi, the NCPEDP director.

But the 2.7 million primary school teachers conducting the census were not trained to handle the question. Nor did they have enough knowledge on disability. So the census showed that only 2.13 percent of the population suffered from disability, he added.

A UN study says 10 percent of all developing countries' population suffer from some disability. A later independent study by the NCPEDP showed that six-seven percent of the Indian population was disabled.

'This meant that while the government officially recognises 20-30 million disabled people, 50-60 million are invisible. This is serious, especially because all government schemes are based on statistics. Therefore, we have decided to help the census commission frame questions to help evaluate the correct population of the disabled,' Abidi said.

The questions, Abidi said, will be such that all categories of disability like autism will be included and not just visual and hearing disabilities. Also, members of the NCPEDP would have a special interactive session with 725 master trainers on the subject.

The master trainers will in turn train 54,000 trainers, who will train the 2.7 million people who will go door-to-door conducting the survey.

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