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; while a participation
restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus,
disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s
body and features of the society in which he or she lives. Disability is not a tragedy but an inconvenience. As noted above, about 650 million persons or one-tenth of the world’s population are estimated to be disabled in one form or another, e.g., Visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological. Unlike the disability legislation in various countries, the persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunity, Protection of Rights and Full Participation), Act 1995 in India, recognizes only limited forms of disabilities such as:
B) Low vision
D) Hearing impairment
E) Locomotors disability
F) Mental retardation
G) Mental illness
Disability means the state or quality of being mentally or physically disabled or weakness,
incapacity or inability to hold a certain job because of physical or mental handicap, want or
The United Nations since its inception in 1945 is making a relentless campaign for the
protection of human rights of all in general and various deprived sections in particular. Based
on the International Bill of Rights, the U.N. formulated the first specific document regarding
disabilities in 1971 in the form of Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons.
Basically, all international human rights instruments, protect the human rights of persons with disabilities, as they apply to all persons, Thus principle of universality is reinforced by the
principles of equality and non-discrimination which are included in human rights instruments.
International human rights law determines that every person has:
- The right to equality.
- The right to non-discrimination.
- The right to equal opportunity.
- The right to independent living.
- The right to full integration.
- The right to security
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (ICCPR) lists several rights that
are relevant to disability. Article 26 states that all people are equal before the law and have the
right to equal protection of the law. Although the International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) does not specifically refer to disability, however it can be
included under -other status” in Article 2(2), which calls for non-discrimination on any grounds
such as race and color, and “other status”.
In 1969, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Social Progress and
Development,’ which started the movement relating to the right of persons with disability. The
Declaration while proclaiming the right to live in dignity for all people emphasized the need to assure disadvantaged sectors of the population equal opportunities for social and economic
In 1971 General Assembly adopted the declaration on the rights of mentally disabled persons.
The Declaration states that: “The mentally retarded person has, to the maximum degree of
feasibility, the same rights as other human beings”. The Declaration calls for national and
international guidance as would enable him to develop his maximum potential. Proper medical
care and such education, training, rehabilitation and the rights of disabled persons. The
mentally retarded person has a right to action to ensure that it will be used as a common basis
for the protection and international action to ensure that it will be used as a common basis for
the protection of the rights of disabled person. He will also have the right to economic security
and to a decent standard of living to do productive work or engage in other meaningful
occupations to the fullest extent of his capability.
In 1975, the General Assembly adopted the “Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons.”
It was the first international document that tried to define the term “disability”. Like the
Declaration on Mentally Retarded Persons, this Declaration also stresses that disabled persons
have the inherent right to respect for their human dignity and the right to enjoy a decent life, as
normal and full as possible. They are entitled to measures designed to enable them to become
as self-reliant as possible, and that their special needs must be taken into consideration at all
stages of economic and social planning.
In a landmark resolution adopted on 16 December 1976, the United Year’ of Nations General
Assembly proclaimed 1981 as the “international Disabled Persons” with the theme “Full
Participation and Equality”. Two international human right treaties, namely the convention on
the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979 (CEDAW), and the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) highlighted particular vulnerability of women
and children to right abuse. Thus, the United Nations and its various agencies are contributing substantially towards the integration of persons with disabilities by adopting various conventions, declarations and recommendations.
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
Equality, dignity, autonomy and liberty are the founding principles on which international
human rights law is premised. These values have sufficiently influenced the fundamental law
of democratic polity and are reflected in Constitutions of most democratic States including
India.. The Preamble to the Constitution of India while giving a structure and philosophy of
governance clearly proclaims to, secure to all its citizens; Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
Under right to equality the Constitution of India guarantees to all citizens equality before law
and equal protection of law (Article 14); and it prohibits discrimination on grounds of ‘religion,
race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them’ (Articles 15 and 16). Further, to ensure equality
in the outcome, it encourages the State, under Articles 16(3) and 16(4), to frame any law or
make provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of
citizens, which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in its services.
The formal recognition of discrimination on grounds of disability is a recent phenomenon and
laws enacted even twenty years ago generally did not include disability in the list of prohibited
discriminations. For instance, the Constitution in Articles 15 and 16 prohibits discrimination
in the matter of employment and access to public facilities on grounds of religion, race, caste,
sex and place of birth, but is silent on disability. In fact, the service rules until 1995 prevented
entry of persons with disabilities in higher grades of service.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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