Disability community – we were under counted

The population enumeration is considered to be the key for future planning and welfare of the marginalized sections of the society. It is obvious that the disability community remains as one of the marginalized communities and are deprived of their rights. Although, India has completed so far 14 population census, there have been lots of hue & cry about the authenticity of the data on persons with disability. As per the census 2001, the population of persons with disability has been recorded as only 2.13% of the total population. This is much lesser than what is claimed to be 7-8% by a number of disability organizations and disability rights groups in the country. The issue did not end up with only the under enumeration, but exclusion of different types of disabilities has also been an issue. The Census in 2001 had only listed 5 types of disability (In seeing, hearing, speech, movement and mental retardation). Although, there are numerous types of disabilities and all of which could not be listed, even the most prevalent diseases like, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism, Cerebral palsy, age related disabilities etc were excluded.

Such a state of under enumeration could be attributed primarily to the limitations over the design of the census questionnaire and there after to lack of awareness among the general public, lack of clarity among the enumerators, social stigma, etc.

What so ever could have been the reason/s, at the end, we-the persons with disability are the losers. It is this state of despair that needs to be changed. The Census 2011 which is to commence on 9th February, 2011 must be considered as a rare opportunity to rectify the historically flawed data on Persons with disabilities. Should we loose this time too, we will have to wait for another 10 years and until the next census.

Therefore, let us join hands, raise our voices together and bring in a change.