It has been two years since the government introduced the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill in the Rajya Sabha, but the Bill still remains to be passed. Making matters worse, the government is now planning to introduce an amendment that will reduce the proposed hike of 5% reservation in government jobs to 4%. The education quota, pegged at 3%, has been left untouched though in the proposed amendment.
The original bill, introduced by the UPA government in 2014, had proposed the 5% quota in government organisations as well as higher education institutions for those with at least 40% disability.
The amendments were circulated amongst Rajya Sabha members this week. The bill is yet to be taken up for discussion, even though it was listed four times for discussion in the last two weeks. Disability rights activists have called the bill a potential game-changer for the country’s persons with disability.
As per the 2011 census, India has 2.68 crore people with disabilities. The pending 2014 bill will replace the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, under which reservation for both jobs and education was 3%.
The amendments also seek to increase the number of conditions listed as disabilities from 19 to 21. Acid attack survivors and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease are the proposed additions. The 1995 Act recognised seven conditions as disabilities — blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. The 2014 bill expanded the list to 19 including cerebral palsy, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and thalassaemia among others.