Discrimination Based on Sex, Caste, Religion and Disability A Conceptual Framework
|1.1||Discrimination : Meaning and Scope|
|1.2||Discrimination Based on Grounds of Sex, Race, Caste and Religion :The Constitution of India Mandates Non-Discrimination|
|1.3||Important Laws in India Affecting Women|
|1.4||Important Laws Related to Children in India|
|1.5||Important Committees and Commission on Women|
|1.7||Cultural Plurality _ Diversities and Disparities|
|1.8||Caste as a System and as an Institution|
|1.9||`Annihilating' the Caste|
|1.10||The Dilemma of Caste and Casteism|
|1.11||Legislative Measures to End Discrimination against SCs/STs|
|1.12||World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance|
|1.13||Disabilities : Imbalances and Discriminatory Practices|
|1.14||Landmark Recommendations on Disabilities|
|1.15||The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rightsand Full Participation) Act, 1995 : An Overview|
|1.16||International Conventions on Disability|
|1.17||Low Literacy Level as a Result of Discrimination|
|1.18||Exclusive Educational Approaches Leading to Discrimination|
|1.19||Lack of Reality in EFA Campaign
1.19.1 Imbalances on the basis of locality
|1.20||Doubly Disadvantaged Blind Girls - Serious Discrimination|
|1.21||Education of Disabled Children - Low Priority in State Agenda|
After going through this Module, the teacher should be able to _
Let us first familiarize ourselves with the lexical meaning and usage of the terms Discrimination, Non-Discrimination, Positive/Protective Discrimination in the first instance and arrive at a common understanding of these terms.
(i) Lexical meaning/usage
Discriminate : (often followed by between) make or see a distinction; differentiate (e.g. cannot see right from wrong); make a distinction especially unjustly and on the basis of race, age, sex etc.; select for unfavourable treatment; make or see or constitute a difference in or between many things, discriminate one person from another; observe distinctions carefully; have good judgement; discern
Discriminating : able to discern, especially distinctions; having good taste
Discrimination : unfavourable treatment based on prejudice, especially regarding race, age or sex; good taste or judgement in artistic matters; the power to discriminating or observing differences; a distinction made in mind or in action
(ii) Terms used in the Handbook imply the following :
In order to understand the conceptual framework related to non-discrimination, we first deal with the issues related to discrimination on the basis of the sex of the individual. However, as the variable of sex cuts across caste/tribe, class, religion and disability, the focus will be to look at gender dimension in all these areas to develop a holistic perspective of the theme. It will be important to become familiar with all such instruments which mandate non-discrimination and to study the provisions contained therein.
In India, as everywhere else in the world _ history and society have been scarred by discrimination and inequality. It was in recognition of this _ and to end such injustice _ that Part III of the Constitution of our Republic dealing with Fundamental Rights, contained powerful provisions to combat all forms of discrimination, including notably those which were based on race, caste or descent. These provisions of the Constitution include broadly the following: (detailed statements of the constitutional provisions are also given, for a deeper understanding, in Table 1.1).
Constitutional Provisions Related to Equality and
Right to Equality
|(4) Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.|
|Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment _
(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State.
(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office [under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory] prior to such employment or appointment.
(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class or citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
[(4A) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which in the opinion of the States, are not adequately represented in the services under the State].
(5) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination.
|17||Abolition of Untouchability _ "Untouchability" is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of "Untouchability" shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.|
|21||Protection of life and personal liberty _ No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.|
Right against Exploitation
|23||Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour
(1) Traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
Right against Exploitation
|(2) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.|
Cultural and Educational Rights
Protection of interests of minorities _ (2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
|Part IV : Directive Principles of State Policy|
|38(2)||State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people _ (2) The State shall, in particular, strive to minimize the inequalities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.|
|44||Uniform civil code for the citizens _ The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.|
|45||Provision for free and compulsory education for children _ The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.|
|46||Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections _ The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.|
|47||Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health _ The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.|
|51(c)||Promotion of international peace and security _ The State shall endeavour to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized people with one another.|
Part IV A : Fundamental Duties
|51(a)|| Fundamental Duties _ It shall be the duty of
every citizen of India _
(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities, to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.
Part XV : Elections
|325||No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex _ There shall be one general electoral roll for every territorial constituency for election to either House of Parliament or to the House or either House of the Legislature of a State and no person shall be ineligible for inclusion in any such roll or claim to be included in any special electoral roll for any such constituency on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or any of them.|
Part XVI : Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes
|330||Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
Tribes in the House of the People _
(1) Seats shall be reserved in the House of the People
Part XVI : Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes
(2) The number of seats reserved in any State [or Union Territory] for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes under clause (1) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats allotted to that State [or Union Territory] in the House of the People as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State [or Union Territory] or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State [or Union Territory] or part of the State [or Union Territory], as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved, bears to the total population of the State [or Union Territory].
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (2), the number of seats reserved in the House of the People for the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam shall bear to the total number of seats allotted to that State a proportion not less than the population of the Scheduled Tribes in the said autonomous districts bear to the total population of the State.
|333||Representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the Legislative Assemblies of the States _ Notwithstanding anything in article 170, the Governor of a State may, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community needs representation in the Legislative Assembly of the State and is not adequately represented therein, [nominate one member of that community to the Assembly].|
|335||Claims of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to services and posts _ The claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.|
|341||Scheduled Castes _
(1) The President [may with respect to any State [or Union Territory], and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor thereof] by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purpose of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State [or Union Territory, as the case may be].
(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
Part XIX : Miscellaneous
Definitions _ In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them, that is to say "Scheduled Castes" means such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under article 341 to be Scheduled Castes for the purposes of this Constitution.
A hallmark of the 1980s and 1990s is the growth of more and better information on women coming in through research-cum-activist efforts and the rise of women's studies to analyse, generate and support action.
(a) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
On 10th December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The list of Human Rights elaborated in the Declaration provides a common standard of `achievement for all peoples and all nations'.
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations.
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedom is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge.
|Note : Emphasis added for male-centered language where the noun man was seen to include woman.|
On 18th December 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It entered into force as an international treaty on 3rd September 1981 after 20 countries had ratified it. By the tenth anniversary of the Convention in 1989, almost one hundred nations had agreed to be bound by its provisions.
The Convention was the culmination of more than thirty years of work by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a body established in 1946 to monitor the situation of women and to promote women's rights. The Commission's work has been instrumental in bringing to light all the areas in which women are denied equality with men. These efforts for the advancement of women have resulted in several declarations and conventions, of which the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is the central and most comprehensive document.
Among the international human rights treaties, the Convention takes an important place in bringing the female half of humanity into the focus of human rights concerns. The spirit of the Convention is rooted in the goals of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and
women. The present document spells out the meaning of equality and how it can be achieved. In so doing, the convention established not only an international bill of rights for women, but also an agenda for action by countries to guarantee the enjoyment of those rights.
In its preamble, the Convention explicitly acknowledges that `extensive discrimination against women continues to exist', and emphasizes that such discrimination "violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity". As defined in article 1, discrimination is understood as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field". The Convention gives positive affirmation to the principle of equality by requiring States parties to take "all appropriate measure, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men" (article 3).
The agenda for equality is specified in fourteen subsequent articles. In its approach, the Convention covers three dimensions of the situation of women. Civil rights and the legal status of women are dealt with in great detail. In addition, and unlike other human rights treaties, the Convention is also concerned with the dimension of human reproduction as well as with the impact of cultural factors on gender relations.
India is known for its cultural diversity and plurality of language, ethnicity and religion, which are in fact rooted in the interplay of its geography and the historical forces. India is a cultural cauldron where the different racial groups have mingled to produce a composite culture and a variety of complex social formations.
It is interesting to note that apart from the rural urban disparities being very sharp, there are intra-rural disparities as between larger village settlements and smaller isolated habitations in remote areas. Besides, socio-economic and political considerations, the geography_ecology_culture formations have historically determined the gender based division of labour and resources in each of the settings and thus impinge on the educational and social participation of girls and women. On the one hand is the urban elite middle class section of population where girls are doing better than boys, in secondary/higher secondary examinations and gender discrimination is low, on the other hand, are poverty groups where being girls is an additional handicap, although even boys belonging to these groups of population also have very low participation and survival rates in education.
The inter-play of the ecology and technology over several millenia have given rise to cultures which display a strong tendency to resist acculturation as regards social institutions of family, kinship, belief systems and gender roles while accepting several modern technologies and institutions in the economic and the political areas. Needless to say, in India, as elsewhere, the social stratification is not only on the lines of gender and class but is laced very strongly with the very indigenous social institution of caste within every religious group (the nearest equivalent being the factor of race in the West).
The multi-ethnic cultural fabric is equally interesting as within the same country, girls and women have different possibilities, depending on the status accorded to its women. For instance _
Liberty, equality, justice and human dignity are the basic principles of contemporary society. Although injustice, discrimination and inequality are social phenomena, their nature and extent differ from society to society. At the same time, there have been constant efforts to fight these problems in human history. Indian society is no exception to this. However, injustice, inequality and discrimination in India exist in the worst form by way of social stratification and hierarchy that are directly linked to religion and caste. Caste plays its role in both ways, i.e., as a system and as an institution.
There are many theories of origin of caste system. A prominent one is the "Occupation Theory" which explains the origin of caste as the groups or the communities that follow a particular occupation that has religious sanction and can never be changed. Scholars have two views over functions of caste system; one view propounds positive functions and the other negative. But, the fact remains that the system is man-made and is based on religion. It is based on hierarchy and graded inequality and includes concepts of purity and pollution. The uniqueness of the occupational patterns is that they have been clearly categorised as `clean' and `unclean' and thereby `pure' and `impure'. Clean occupations like performing Pooja, rites and rituals, cultivation of land and teaching, etc. enjoy high status and prestige and are treated as superior, whereas menial occupations like sweeping, tanning leather, making shoes, washing clothes, cutting hair, etc. are considered as unclean and polluting and hence enjoy very low, indignified status. This resulted into the practice of keeping physical and social distance and practice of untouchability. Thus, the communities following these so called unclean occupations always depended on the communities (upper castes) that follow so called clean occupations. Moreover, these low and unclean castes had no right to property and education. Consequently, these communities suffered from various socio-economic and cultural disabilities till date. These communities form a sizable (nearly 25 per cent) portion of India's total pupulation (SC 17 per cent and ST 8 per cent). It may be remembered that as the upper castes have hierarchy within themselves, so have the lower castes. In all, these castes are a complex phenomenon, have diversities in their structures and differ from each other, from culture to culture and region to region.
The first effort to condemn and oppose caste system was made by Gautam Buddha. He gave an alternative by propagating the principle of equality and self-realization based on a secular ideology of humanism. In modern India, social reformers took up the cause, notable mention may be made of Jyotiba Phuley and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's book `Annihilation of Caste' still provides the best solution to the caste problem.
Indian society is known to be closed and heterogeneous with multiple complexities and divisions. However, the British proved to be an exception as they brought in the principle of equality and modern humanity (although with vested interests) along with introduction of modern scientific knowledge, industrialization, urbanization and technological growth. During this period, besides military services, education was open to all castes. All this led to the emergence of a modern western educated intellectual class of guardians who strived for India's social solidarity. The changes that took place in the social structure have been un-avoidable and are at the periphery. The basic structure and its impact, however, remains unchanged.
A section of people does argue that caste is not bad but casteism is bad. However, empirical evidence shows that caste and casteism cannot be separated and only the beneficiaries of the system propound these ideas. The upper castes take pride in claiming their high and superior social status and, therefore, do not oppose the caste system. On cultural front, they continue to adopt the symbols of purity and superiority like vegetarianism, sacred thread, tilak on forehead and use of surnames like Joshi, Trivedi, Sharma, Thakur, Chaudhari, etc. Politically, as M.N. Srinivas has rightly said, Indian politics is caste politics and not party politics and "castes" play as "vote banks". No political party is an exception to this reality. Inter-caste marriages are considered to be the best indicators of breaking down the caste system. But, even after 50 years of social and political democracy, they remain the exception. The castes continue to exist even in the religions that fought against caste discrimination, for example, Sikhism, Islam and Chirstianity.
Today, it is generally assumed that educated people in India do not believe in caste and casteism. Unfortunately, it is not true. The Indian educated class is mistaken for being secular due to westernised education, and process and practices of western lifestyles. At the micro levels, they continue with their caste customs. True secularism is yet to reach the public and private houses, kitchens and wells. The pattern of social intercourse that is overly seen continues at urban and metropolitan centres which is again enforced by lifestyles. Educational centres have become now centers of caste, language and religion; associations that receive special minority status and own community people get benefited. It may be noted that caste system and casteism are not legally barred unlike untouchability.
The traditional monopoly of land owning, cultural and economic exploitation, politics, trade and business, education and intellectual power continues to be carried forward by the same upper castes. Discrimination and deprivation on the basis of caste in any form cannot be taken as religious or as a national value in any democratic society. That is why, as a social compensation, independent India made special provisions for the downtrodden who have been victims of the caste system. It may be noted that such compensatory provisions are made available in most of the developed and developing countries. Unfortunately, our socializing agencies (including education) are influenced by the western culture of materialism and individualism and tend to ignore the gross socio-cultural realities. These issues of caste, exploitation, suppression and discrimination are getting sidelined day by day. We hardly see any NGO or any social or political organization that takes up these issues. The problem lies with the educated ones and, therefore, it is necessary to educate the educated. It is a must for all of us to de-caste ourselves consciously.
To give clear expression to Constitutional provisions, an impressive range of legislative measures have been enacted to end discrimination against SCs and STs. These inter-alia include :
The conference held in Durban, South Africa, from 31st August to 8th September, 2001 came out with a Declaration. An extract from this Declaration refers to a Programme of Action which, for reference, is given in Annexure.
India is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-linguistic society and persons of all faiths and beliefs live together. However, there are some disparities in services to persons belonging to specific groups. Disability is one such area which has experienced low priority in the service sector. The reasons for the low priority can be attributed to many factors. As inclusion of persons with disabilities in the society becomes vital to empower them with human rights, certain positive measures should be initiated at all levels to overcome the present imbalances and discriminatory practices. The concept of inclusive society centres around three issues, namely - cultures, policies and practices.
In terms of culture, India remains a united country, despite its diversities, and a person with disability is not isolated just for the reason that he/she is disabled. We learn from history that disabled persons during the Spartan days were even destroyed. The attitude of destruction slowly changed as a symbol of punishment in the society. These extreme attitudes were not present in India even in the past. Though there is a `Karma' Theory in India which conceptualizes that what we are today is because of the result of the past lives, there was no
attitude of destruction of persons with disabilities. In ancient India, social orders were initiated in pre- and Vedic times and those were in tune with the natural order. Persons with disabilities were accepted as part of that natural order and were accommodated and adjusted to daily life activities of those times.
The first school for the deaf and the blind were started in India in 1884 and 1887 respectively, though disabled persons lived even before that time. There was social inclusion of these persons in the society even then. The discrimination started in provisions of the tangible practices, as in India, more than 90% of persons with disabilities, most of whom live in rural areas, do not have access to any services but they are not isolated from the communities. They live in the society but their needs are not addressed. This condition may be called as social inclusion.
In terms of practices, the main problem in the country is with respect to their actualization. Discrimination is experienced only in terms of actual services extended to persons with disabilities.
At the national level, there is no authentic survey to provide information on the number of disabled children who are in need of services. Many surveys made in the past were based on sample surveys and they differed in using the definitions to a large extent. Mander and Rao (1996) mention that there is limited information regarding the actual extent and range of
Prevalence of Children with Disabilities
Note : The statistics obtained out of this project can be projected safely as this is the only survey conducted on the basis of `Whole block approach'. As per the PIED, nearly 2.5% of the children of school going population have disability of some kind.
prevalence of the disability and, therefore, to find out the actual number, one may wish to comprehensively cover, possibly a district or some administrative segment of a district.
The only national level project which made a door-to-door survey of disabled children in the entire block was the Project Integrated Education for the Disabled (PIED) supported by UNICEF through NCERT from 1987 to 1993. The project was implemented in one representive block in each of the States namely, Rajasthan (Chabbra block), Madhya Pradesh (Masturi), Maharashtra (Palghar), Orissa (Baliantha), Tamil Nadu (Kattankulathur), Nagaland (Kikruma), Mizoram (Khazal), Haryana (Bhiwani), and the Municipal Corporations Delhi (Trans-Yamuna) and Baroda. The disabled children identified in these blocks are indicated in Table 1.2
References about the services for persons with disabilities have been made since independence.
Chapter IV : Prevention and early detection of disabilities
Chapter V : Education
Chapter VIII : Non-Discrimination
The Commission, at its fifty-eighth session, adopted resolution 58/4 of 22 May 2002 on promoting an inclusive barrier-free and rights-based society for people with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region in the twenty-first century, by which it proclaimed the extension of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, for another decade, 2003-2012.
The present document sets out a draft regional framework for action that provides regional policy recommendations for action by Governments in the region and concerned stakeholders to achieve an inclusive barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disabilities in the new decade, 2003-2012. The regional framework for action identifies seven areas for priority action in the new decade. Each priority area contains critical issues, targets and the action required.
The regional framework for action explicitly incorporates the millennium development goals and their relevant targets to ensure that concerns relating to persons with disabilities become an integral part of efforts to achieve the goals.
The UN-ESCAP, in its Asia and Pacific Region Conference, held in Bangkok in November 1999, revised its target for decade of persons with disabilities by stating that the countries in the Asia and Pacific region should try to raise the literacy levels of persons with disabilities at least on par with that of non-disabled children. Discrimination on the basis of disability is evident in the present literacy level in the case of disabled children. There is a long way to go to raise this level to nearly 70% which is the national literacy level. Most of the states in India have not raised the level of literacy of persons with disabilities on par with non-disabled persons. This indicates that education for them is not treated as their right. The Governments at State and Central level, need to look into this discrepancy in services and rectify the defects in conformity with the policy directives.
The discrimination in educational approaches too is evident in modern India. The creation of special schools since 1884 indicates that children with disabilities were treated differently. While non-disabled children studied in the local school, children with disabilities had to go to special institutes since the local schools did not admit them for education. For nearly 90 years, children with disabilities were given education only through exclusive approaches. The centrally sponsored scheme for Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) was introduced only in 1974. This discrimination in educational approach pushed services for disabled children into the back seat. Even after the introduction of the IEDC scheme, the responses were not encouraging. After 27 years since the introduction of the scheme, the coverage of disabled children under the scheme is a paltry 100000 children in about 20000 general schools. The lack of enthusiasm shown by the States indicates that disability sector is a low priority area. This discrimination should be overcome.
Many districts in the country have declared 100% literacy rate. A thorough review of these claims should be made by analysing whether disabled persons, including the blind, deaf, etc., received any kind of formal literacy in these districts. If it had happened in these districts, their experiences should be emulated by others. If it had not happened, it should be deemed as a serious discrimination against disability. Education for all, without the inclusion of children with disabilities, is not a reality and, therefore, literacy campaigns should include disabled persons, too, in their drive for education. Investment on persons with disabilities should be treated as investment on human capital and services to them must be considered as their human right.
The facts enumerated so far reveal that discrimination exists in the provision of services to persons with disabilities. Even within the population presently being served, there are a lot of imbalances. Such imbalances include locality such as rural and urban areas, gender, etc. They are described as follows:
1.19.1 Imbalances on the basis of locality
The Sixth All India Survey on Education (1999) provides substantial information about integrated education for children with disabilities. As per this survey, children with disabilities benefited through integrated schools at the primary level on the basis of locality as shown in Table 1.3
Distribution of Children with Disabilities
According to Locality
(a) Primary Level
(b) Secondary Level
(c) Higher Secondary Level
Statistics reveal that 90% of children with disabilities live in rural areas and only 10% live in urban areas. This ratio should commensurate with the coverage too. In fact, the data available reveal disparity. The coverage reveals approximately 60% : 40% for rural:urban areas whereas the prevalence rate shows 90% : 10%. This indicates urban bias. As per the distribution of persons with disabilities, at least 1.8 lacs of them should have been served in rural areas when the coverage is nearly 20000 in urban areas. The children in the rural areas continue to suffer. The pattern of coverage reveals that more children are benefited in the urban areas than in rural areas.
The condition is still worse at the secondary level. The enrolment of children with disabilities in integrated education programmes at the secondary level shows that in the case of persons with mental retardation, very few can enter into this level of education. Therefore, the figures quoted as mentally retarded might have included slow learners too. The percentage is almost 55% : 45% which again indicates that urban children continue to enjoy the benefits whereas rural children suffer. The condition is same in the higher secondary level too.
The increased coverage in urban areas at all levels and reducing pattern in the rural areas provide pointers for future planning. Reaching children with disabilities in the rural areas is the most challenging problem today.
As per the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) (1991), distribution of children with disabilities as per gender is given in Table 1.4.
Though disabled girls constitute 54% of the population, they are not given adequate access to education and rehabilitation services. Moreover, girls with disability in rural areas are further deprived due to their social conditions. The Sixth All India Education Survey has not classified the enrolment of children with disabilities according to gender. However, the PIED provides data on gender classification. As per the PIED data, the coverage of children with disabilities in schools according to gender is given in Table 1.5
Distribution of Children with Disabilities in
Integrated Schools as per Gender
Even in the PIED survey which aimed at providing education for all children with disabilities, the enrolment of girls with disabilities is lower than that of boys. Programmes in the future should address the gender disparity in order to increase equal opportunities for girls with disabilities. However, in the case of mentally retarded children, the natural prevalence among boys and girls is approximately in the ratio 3:1. Therefore, less number of MR girls in educational programmes should not be treated as discrimination. This scenario does not apply to children with other disabilities.
The value of non-discrimination should address the gender and locality issues in the future. In addition to the above, some discrimination is evident in State policies too.
Most of the State Governments in the country are depending on the grants from centrally sponsored schemes to provide education to children with disabilities, especially in the integrated setting. While funding is provided by the State Government for the education of non-disabled children, it is not so in the case of disabled children. Most State Governments are creating
positions of teachers for non-disabled children whereas special education teacher positions are not created for inclusive and integrated education programmes. This indicates that more State Governments are not giving priority to services for persons with disabilities. This is a serious discrimination on the part of the State Governments even in their policy front.
If the value of non-discrimination is to be exercised
in the field of disability, the following vital aspects have to be taken