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Draft policy on national database of PwD


A national database of persons with disabilities (PwD) linking their Unique Disability Identity (UDID) numbers with welfare schemes and education and health services was among the proposals of the draft National Policy for PwD, 2021.


GS-II: Social Justice (Vulnerable Sections, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions, Social Empowerment, Issues Relating to Development)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Portal
  2. About the draft National Policy for PwD, 2021
  3. Understanding what is “Disability”
  4. Disability in India
  5. Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys
  6. Constitutional Provisions and Legislations
  7. About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
  8. Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Portal

  • The Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Portal project is being implemented with a view of creating a National Database for persons with disabilities (PwDs), and to issue a Unique Disability Identity Card to each PwDs.
  • The project will not only encourage transparency, efficiency and ease of delivering the government benefits to the person with disabilities, but also ensure uniformity.
  • The project will also help in stream-lining the tracking of physical and financial progress of beneficiaries at all levels of hierarchy of implementation – from village level, block level, District level, State level and National level.
  • The UDID project and a national database had been proposed in 2014 and implemented from 2016 in stages.

The need for a step forward

  • Over 60 lakh UDID cards had been generated through the portal as of October 2021 – however, no other services are offered through it.
  • Reports indicate that budget allocation was only around 0.0039% of the GDP for the persons with disabilities. As per Census 2011, the population of persons with disabilities was 2.68 crore which amounted to 2.21% of the population. Hence, there is a gap in funding that needs to be filled.

About the draft National Policy for PwD, 2021

The draft National Policy for PwD, 2021 will be put in the public domain for comments after approval from Social Justice and Empowerment Minister and such a policy was previously published in 2006.

Suggestions of the draft national policy for PwD, 2021

  • While online certification through the UDID portal was made mandatory on June 2021, the policy suggests taking it forward by integrating services and schemes with the IDs.
  • The database should be linked with all service delivery mechanisms through appropriate Application Programming Interface (API) integration in the near future.
  • The portal would allow the PwD and stakeholders to monitor the progress of applications for various schemes, including distribution of assistive devices.
  • The draft policy also said all educational institutions should keep a record of UDID number of disabled students and all government-run healthcare and rehabilitation centres should also do so
  • The Socio Economic Caste Census database, which is used for implementation of poverty alleviation and d-evelopment programmes, should have disability disaggregated information and must capture UDID number.
  • All schemes and programmes meant for individual citizens should capture disability disaggregated data.
  • The policy also called for formulating an action plan for protecting the human rights of PwD, a comprehensive national programme of disability prevention, cross-disability early intervention centres in every district, universal coverage of PwD under Ayushman Bharat and a national employment portal for PwD.
  • In disaster management planning, there should be priority to PwD for evacuation and relief.
  • The draft said the National Crime Record Bureau needed “to maintain disability segregated data regarding crime against PwDs” and it should start with the annual data of 2021.

Back to Basics: Understanding what is “Disability”

  • 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;
  • A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
  • Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to face discrimination in the workplace. These barriers are social, not personal, and cannot be “overcome” through sheer force of will.
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975): “Any person unable to ensure by himself or herself, wholly or partly the necessities of a normal individual and or social life as a result of a deficiency either congenital or not in his/her physical or mental abilities” could be described as disabled.

Disability in India

  • About 2.2% of India’s population lives with some kind of physical or mental disability, as per the National Statistics Office report on disability released 2019.

How are the disabled identified?

  • Until the 2011 census, there were questions on seven kinds of disabilities in the questionnaire. This list of disabilities was expanded to 21 when the Rights of People with Disabilities was introduced in 2016.
  • Accordingly, the 2019 report included questions to identify people with temporary loss of an ability as well as neurological and blood disorders in addition to the earlier definition, that included mental retardation and permanent inability to move, speak, hear and see.
  • Significantly, the revised definition recognises deformities and injuries of acid attack victims as disabilities, entitling them to various relief measures.

Who are disabled and in what way?

  • Rural men had the highest prevalence of disability in India, according to the NSO report. A higher proportion of men were disabled in India compared with women, and disability was more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Inability to move without assistance was the most common disability. More men experienced locomotor disability than women.
  • These numbers were self-reported. In other words, the respondents were asked if they experienced any difficulty in performing tasks like moving, talking, etc.

Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys

  • The 2011 census estimated that the number of people with disabilities in India is close to 2.68 crore (or 2.2% of the population) — that is more than the entire population of Australia.
  • This number was based on the older definition of disability, yet the proportion of disabled people in the population is not different from the 2019 NSO report, which used the expanded definition of disability. However, the 2019 edition of disability statistics reported a slightly higher prevalence than those reported in earlier editions of the survey.
  • Other metrics for evaluating disability have provided different estimates. A 2019 study by the Public Health Foundation of India found that the use of the Annual Health Survey’s metrics results in a lower prevalence. Similarly, a group of doctors from AIIMS found that alternate questionnaires like the Rapid Assessment of Disability have resulted in a prevalence ranging from 1.6%-43.3%.

How can the range be so wide?

The proportion of population facing disability becomes bigger as one moves from a narrow definition to a broader one. For instance, if one defines disability as the difficulty in accessing public services for all kinds of reasons, even social or economic, then the proportion goes up.

Constitutional Provisions and Legislations

  • The Preamble, Article 14, Article 21 and DPSP provide right to equality, justice and dignity of all individuals leading to an inclusive development which also includes the Disabled Persons.
  • The Indian Lunacy Act 1912, The Lepers Act, 1899, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple    Disabilities Act 1999, The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 are enacted for the betterment of disabled people.


About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.

Key Changes brought in the by the 2016 act

Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.

  • The types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21.
  • The act added mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, speech and language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinson’s disease which were largely ignored in earlier act.
  • It increases the quantum of reservation for people suffering from disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher education institutes.
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education (Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions).
  • Stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time frame along with Accessible India Campaign.
  • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies, monitoring implementation of the Act.
  • A separate National and State Fund be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.
  • The Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.

Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

  1. ADIP Scheme: The main objective of the Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing / fitting of aids / appliances (ADIP) scheme is to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential. The aids and appliances supplied under the Scheme shall conform to BIS specifications to the extent possible. The scheme is implemented through implementing agencies such as the NGOs, National Institutes under this Ministry and ALIMCO (a PSU).
  2. Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan): 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. The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication eco-system.
  3. Sugamya Pustakalaya: “Sugamaya Pustakalaya” is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats.
  4. Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: The Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme is aimed to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities. Its objective is also to encourage voluntary action for ensuring effective implementation of the People with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Protection of Rights) Act of 1995.
  5. National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities: In order to recognise dedicated efforts of persons and institutions involved in the process of empowerment of disabled and encourage others to strive to achieve excellence in this field, the National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities are being awarded every year.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024