• The WHO defines disability as “any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform in a manner or within the range considered normal for a human being”
  • Disability is a complex concept and is difficult to define since it varies in type, form and intensity. The World Report on Disability, 2011 sums up various definitions of disability by stating “Disability is complex, dynamic, multidimensional, and contested”.
  • Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
    • An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
    • An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
    • participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.

Disability in India-Fast Facts:

  • As per Census 2011, in India, out of the total population of 121 crore, about 2.68 Cr persons are ‘Disabled’ (2.21% of the total population)
  • Out of 2.68 crore, 1.5 crore are males and 1.18 crore are females
  • Majority (69%) of the disabled population resided in rural areas

Constitutional Framework:

  • Article 41 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) states that State shall make effective provision for securing right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of its economic capacity and development.

The subject of ‘relief of the disabled and unemployable’ is specified in state list of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.

Legal Framework : 

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

Addition in types of disability:

  • The types of disabilities increased from 7 (in 1995 Act) to 21.
  • Further, the Central Government has been empowered to add more types of disabilities.


  • Every child with benchmark disability to get free education from 6 to 18 years of the age. 


  • Reservation to the differently-abled person in the education and government jobs has been increased from 3% to 4%.


  • An important distinguishing feature of the 2016 Act is that it provides for time limits within which existing infrastructure and premises should be made disabled friendly.
  • The obligations laid down in the Act are mandatory for both government and private establishments.


  • Creation of National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.
  • The existing National Fund for Persons with Disabilities and the Trust Fund for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities will be subsumed with the National Fund.

Grant of guardianship:

  • The Bill provides for grant of guardianship by District Court, under which there will be joint decision, making between the guardian and the persons with disabilities.

Strict enforcement:

Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.

Additional Benefits Persons with benchmark disabilities:

  • Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education, government jobs, reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.

Programmes/initiatives for Disabled in India:

  1. Accessible India Campaign : Creation of Accessible Environment for PwDs:
    1. A nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
    2. The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication ecosystem.
  2. Deen Dayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: Under the scheme financial assistance is provided to NGOs for providing various services to Persons with Disabilities, like special schools, vocational training centres, community based rehabilitation, pre-school and early intervention etc
  3. Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase / fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP): The Scheme aims at helping the disabled persons by bringing suitable, durable, scientifically-manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances within their reach.
  4. National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities (RGMF)
    1. The scheme aims to increase opportunities to students with disabilities for pursuing higher education.
    2. Under the Scheme, 200 Fellowships per year are granted to students with disability.
  5. Schemes of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.