The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities released its annual report for 2015-2016 last year.
The report showed that roughly 50% of those disabled in India have not acquired a government provided certificate which would then enable them to avail a number of welfare schemes the government provides (notice how some states like Rajasthan stand out). These welfare schemes vary – from monthly monetary pensions being given out to facilities like motorized cycles, hearing implants etc. which are made available at a minimal cost. This means 50% of those who deserve such facilities simply do not get to avail it; and most likely 50% of this budget goes without being utilized.
Notice how Rajasthan is an outlier given how few certificates have been issued.
Food for thought – are these government estimates accurate? Can you think of easy ways to validate their number?
Seva Setu decided to act on these numbers. Being the “setu” we are, we set ourselves on the task of aiding those who have missed out on this process. We’ve begun by collecting data from the field – by going village to village, with an aim to cover select blocks in the districts of Patna, Vaishali and Katihar by this quarter.
Till date, our teams have visited 6 Panchayats. We’ve analyzed the data from 3 of these Panchayats (Kurthol, Kuretha and Baikunthpur) consisting of roughly 16 villages and this is what we find – 232 people were identified to have at least one form of disability. Of these, only 111 (48%) had their certificates made while the remaining 52% did not know about it/had not made their certificates. Their mean age was 27 and 65% of them had one or more of their legs affected. We have started working on getting the 52% to apply for their certificates and we aim to get them enrolled for these benefits in the next two months.
We have a rolling target of 2 months to cover each batch of these Panchayats we visit. We want to ensure that there really are no people left who have not been able to utilize these government schemes. With this vision in mind, we march full steam ahead!
The government’s annual report is a prime source to dig deeper into these matters and also ask the government for progress on its promises.
If you’d like to experience drafting and following up on RTIs, let us know and we’ll let you in on the action too! We will also be glad to hear your views on what policy level changes ought to be made in order to reduce this under-utilization of such useful schemes.
We also have attached a video from our archives which highlights a case from a similar drive we had held in 2014.