In the wake of India ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  (UNCRPD) in October, 2007, it has become incumbent on India’s part, under the established and recognized international human right norms, to harmonise all its relevant domestic laws and policies with this international treaty.

Even 17 years after enactment of ‘PwD’ Act 1995, only a very few States/UTs do have some kind of a policy on disability in place, most others have none. Secondly even those very few States/UTs who have a State level policy on disability in place, it is not at all in line with the UNCRPD.

In this connection, Mr Prasanna Kumar Pincha, Chief Commissioner For Persons with Disabilities wrote to Chief Secretary of all the States / UTs, Secretary MSJE and Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities of all the States/UTs vide Ref.No.9-1(UNCRPD)/ CCD/2009 dated 15th  February, 2012.

The letter states that “all the States and UTs of India must have a progressive and forward looking policy on persons with disabilities which is compatible with the UNCRPD.  In the context of a State/UT, such a policy should be called the State/UT Policy on Persons with  Disabilities and not State/UT Policy on Disability. In this view of the matter, may I request you to kindly put in place a progressive and forward looking policy on PwDs which is compatible with UNCRPD. Such a policy should be put together with the active involvement of, and in close consultation with PwDs through their representative organizations. The very few States/UTs who already have some kind of policy on disability are also accordingly requested  to revise the existing policy and replace the same by State/UT policy on PwDs which is in harmony with the UNCRPD. Action taken in respect of the matter may kindly be intimated to this Commissionerate.”

This was in February 2012. Being a person with locomotor disability, I am aggrieved by the lack of sensitivity of the government towards PwD. I therefore filed an RTI to know how progressive is  disability policy of Indian capital, our Delhi. I was shocked to see that even after ratification of UNCRPD, NCT of Delhi does not have a disability policy. Moreover in response to Chief Commissioner’s letter above, nothing was done for full 2 months. Finally, the Social Welfare department of NCT Delhi convened a meeting in which one of the agenda was ‘disability policy’. The disability movement worldwide has a matra-Nothing for us, without us. It pained me to see that this particular meeting had only a handful of representation from PwD. What will happen in the whole country when the national capital is so insensitive?

Chhattisgarh became the first ever state to have a disability policy in 2006. The Comprehensive Disability Policy Framework for Chhattisgarh (C.D.P.F.C.) is in keeping with the international conventions and frameworks on disability, like the Biwako Millennium Framework and United Nations Standard Rules, and has been drafted in consultation with key stakeholders. This is in stark contrast to the short cuts taken by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment while framing the National Policy.

Article on my RTI report has been published in today’s ‘Millennium Post’ newspaper. In a strange coincidence, I came across Chief Commissioner for PwD, Mr Pincha, today at the orientation program for students with disabilities at Delhi University. I asked the same question (photo below) and he responded by appreciating the follow up on his official letter. I have already posted him the facts and I am sure he will look into the matter. The RTI reply is here.