Volume 7 Issue 7 - April 01, 2010

If the disabled population is counted correctly there will be no space for the government to deprive us from our rights

Participants at the Round Table on Disability and Census 2011
Participants at the Round Table on Disability and Census 2011

Disability leaders from all four corners of India were in Delhi on March 15 and 16 to attend the Consultation on ‘Disability and Census 2011’. The task at hand was to draft a fresh question on disability and related guidelines for the enumerators’ manual to be incorporated in Census 2011. Rohinee Singh of D.N.I.S. brings you the views of some of the disability activists on the following question:

How important do you think it is to get our numbers right? How is it going to make a difference to the disability sector?

Ketan Kothari, Programme Officer, Sightsavers, Mumbai, Maharashtra: Census is an important process, especially the Census of 2011 since it is linked with Unique Identification Number. If we manage to get counted accurately this time, we can hope to have far better allocation of resources for the disabled community.

K. Ela, Director, Prodigals’ Home, Dimapur, Nagaland: Census 2011 is a big challenge. It is a big initiative and there is a lot of effort to be put in. One thing that is important here is that the information must reach the grass root level. Organising talks and discussions is fine only till a point but it must cut through to the lowest levels. At the end of the day, the enumerator must interact with the populace. Stakeholders at every level must be identified to create awareness and sensitize enumerators as well as respondents.

Merry Barua, Director, Action For Autism, New Delhi: To get the funds allocated from the government for the disability sector, it gets very important to catch the numbers correctly. I think once we have the correct figures, working with government machinery will get simpler and more effective.

Dr. Sruti Mohapatra, C.E.O., Swabhiman, Bhubaneswar, Orissa: It is very important for the disability sector to get its numbers right. Without numbers we practically do not exist and so we are not being taken seriously. The challenge is to frame the question and draft the manual in a way that is friendly to the enumerator. I am hopeful that this time our numbers can go up, to 7 to 8 percent (of the population).

R. C. Sharma, President, Jammu and Kashmir Handicapped Association, Jammu: Whenever we have approached the governments at the Centre and the State, we have not been taken seriously because they say that we are too small a community. But the reality is that our number is big and just because we have not been counted correctly, we have been ignored. Census 2011 is a big opportunity for all of us.

Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Co-founder, The Banyan, Chennai, Tamil Nadu: Getting ourselves counted is an acknowledgement; else we do not exist at all. Until we have statistics and facts as a backup with us, we cannot have a concrete plan of action to deal with the government machinery. I am hoping that the question will be implemented correctly.

Zamir Dhale, Advocacy Officer, Sense International, Ahmedabad, Gujarat: Discussion on the question of disability is a very positive step. If the disabled population is counted correctly it will help in creating public awareness and will leave no space for the government to deprive us from our rights.

Suhas Karnik, Honorary Secretary, National Association for the Blind, Mumbai, Maharashtra: Census 2011 must focus on training of enumerators and sensitising all stakeholders to get an accurate count on disability. Mass media will have to play a big role in dissemination of information through government and private channels.

Bertha. G. Dkhar, Bethany Society, Shillong, Meghalaya: This consultation was a wake up call for me. I look at the whole issue of Census 2011 and disability as a tool and an agent. No matter how sophisticated the tool, if the agent is not useful it will not bring about a change. This Census must identify all those who we have failed earlier and who could not be identified.

Mohd Iqbal, President, People Action Group for Inclusion and Rights, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir: Previous Census, the disability figures were not correct. As a result, our rights continue to be ignored by the government. But if disability gets the space it deserves, may be it will make a difference to our sector.

Dr. Sunil Kumar Singh, President, Adarsh Viklang Seva Sansthan, Samastipur, Bihar: In the larger frame of this country, we are a very small number. The question on disability will help us get our figures right. It will help in policy formation, planning and advocacy.

Piyali Halder, Founder and Secretary, Disha, Andaman and Nicobar Islands: In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, both the disability sector and the government lack awareness about the subject. The right count of disability will help in sensitizing both, the people and the government about the sector.

A. S. Narayanan, Secretary, National Association of the Deaf, New Delhi: Presently we are like a small drop in the ocean, but after the question on disability gives us a right figure in Census 2011, the country will take notice of us and the sector will be benefited.

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