Insight on Disability count in Census of India: Javed Abidi

One of the leaders for advocating rights of persons with disability, an Ashoka fellow, recepient of 'Super Idol' lifetime achievement award by I.B.N.7. for contribution in disability sector, Mr Javed Abidi, Honorary Director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) visited Sightsavers India Regional office, Mumbai on 23rd April, 2010. He met Sightsavers team and updated them about the efforts taken by NCPEDP to ensure that the ‘Question on Disability’ is included and asked properly in census 2011.

Mr Javed Abidi - Honorary Director (NCPEDP)

History of Census in India

The history of census in India dates back in 1872 when it used to conduct in non-synchronous way. With a history of more than 130 years, this massive exercise has been bringing out a reliable wealth of statistics every 10 years without fail. He informed that the questions on disability were asked when the census started until 1931. It was after independence that question on disability was dropped as the statistics had the direct influence on the resource allocation.

Meeting with Sightsavers Team at Mumbai

Inclusion of Disability in Census 2001

Mr Abidi shared his experience of including disability in census 2001. In 1995 passing of PWD Act led to the movement of collecting numbers for appropriate allocation of funds through the government. In 1999, Mr Abidi wrote a letter to the then commissioner of census to include question on disability. The reply came ironically around December during International Day for Persons with Disability that "we are happy to share with you that the question on disability will not be included in census 2001".

This was enough to ignite the movement at national level with more passion across the country. This was followed by six months of pitched battle through press conferences, press meets, dharnas, rallies etc. under the flagship of NCPEDP. Mr Abidi lamented that it took 6 months for the country to be convinced for a question on disability. At last, question was included in census 2001 with four categories and results showed 2.1% of Indian population had disability.

"The official figure for the disabled population of India is 1.9% (Source: NSSO Survey 1991) ! If we compare it with percentage of people with disabilities in other Asian Countries - China 5%, Pakistan 4.9%, Phillipines 4.4%, Nepal 5.0%, we can either pat our backs for literally having eradicated disability out of India or we can pinch ourselves in order to wake up and face the real truth. "-Quote by NCPEDP cited in Disability World (web-zine on international disability news, Jan-Feb 2001)
Progress So Far for Census 2011
The coming census will be one of its kind in the world enumerating 1.2 billion population of India, engaging 2.5 million people to carry out this massive excercise to create a biometric national database. In this census, every person aged over 15 years will be photographed and fingerprinted to create the database.
 To further fine tune the disability count in the commencing census , this year NCPEDP organized a roundtable consultation in New Delhi on 5th and 6th March in presence of Dr. C Chandramouli, the Registrar and Census Commissioner of India. From Sightsavers, Mr Ketan Kothari (Programme Officer, South India Area) participated in the consultation. In this consultation, the group constituting the representative of disability sector were suggested to draft appropriate questions on disability to be included in the census questionnaire by Dr Chandramouli. It was in this meeting, NCPEDP was asked to prepare training material in the form of guide book and to participate in the training of enumerators. About 100 persons from 21 states participated in the meeting.

Mr Abidi further shared with the group that, they are planning to organize phase wise training for train enumerators at all the levels starting from 90 national trainers (master trainers) who will train 270 zonal trainers. He insisted that order of question to be asked should also be changed as in last census, the disability question was at number 15. To improve the data collection, the responsibility lies with the disabled person and their family members also. To address this an awareness campaign will be launched to sensitize people before census.

The meeting concluded with high hopes of getting the numbers right.

Ms Elizabeth Kurian- Regional Director (Sightsavers) falicitating Mr Javed Abidi
with book on the life of Sightsavers founder Sir John Wilson.

*Photo courtesy: Bhavana Pande



Waking up at 3 am in the morning to catch up a flight is not exciting especially on Monday. That was the start of this week to Kanyakumari via Trivandrum.

It was my fourth visit to this place but every time I come back here it never fails to refresh my childhood memories...do I need to write with whom I might have visited at the age of 3 ;-) I stayed at Nagercoil which is the HQ of Kanyakumari district.


East Africa Visit & Safari Tales

Hey Jambo ! Karibu....

The reply will come Asante Sana !

Jambo means hi how are you , Karibu welcome, Asante Thanks, Sana Many. Now the most heard word Karibu is inscribed on my wall now as a memory. I was there for 3 three weeks, one week in Nairobi and 2 weeks in Dar Es Salaam with on an off for site visits. Well the trip was hell lot hectic, starting from here to Nairobi via Dubai.And the day was not ending..I was gaining time. Seems like that night would never come.


Social Inclusion Workshop for India and ECSA : 28th to 30th March, 2010

The social inclusion workshop was primarily facilitated by Diane Mulligan, Praveen Kumar and Gertrude for three days at Hotel Retreat, Madh Island in Mumbai from 28th to 30th March,2010.

Day 1: 28th March, 2010

The day started with Diane's presentation on basic difference between human rights & equality. The session highlighted the fact that human rights respect the difference and empowers the person to take informed choices. It was emphasized that "Rights has to be given with dignity and not charity".

To let the participant grasp the concept of equality, she quoted an example of "Guaranteed Interview Scheme" in UK wherein all the applicants meeting the minimum eligibility criteria were called for an interview.

Following here presentation Ketan took a session on barriers faced by people with disability. There can be four types of barriers for disabled persons:
  1. Information and Communication
  2. Build Environment
  3. Institutional
  4. Attitudes and Behaviour
To break these barrier time to time different types of models have been explored and applied ranging from traditional model where disabled persons were seen with pity to medical model where they their existence is valid only in presence of the certificate.
With time, social model evolved wherein the focus was on bringing the best out of the disabled person rather than their limitation. Then came the bio-psycho social model which was holistic as it envisages medical, pyschiatric and environmental needs of the person. In second half of the session , Dr Sam Taraporewala shared his advocacy experience in financial access, print access, education of visually impaired and employment opportunities respectively.

On left, Diane Mulligan from HH: Facilitator for workshop

Gertrude from West Africa Regional Office and Praveen Kumar from North East India Area Office: Facilitators

Ketan Kothari from South India Area Office: Took session on different models of disability and challenging attitudes and behaviours.

Day 2: 29th March, 2010

This day sessions were planned to identify gap in current approaches of CBR through group work. Discussions were driven around scalability, demonstration and twin track approach. According to the twin track mainstreaming disability as well as initiating disability specific initiatives goes hand in hand.

George introduced the guest speaker of the pre lunch session, Prasanna Pincha who is a member of national team leader on UNCRPD and also special rapporteur of National Human Rights Commission. His session revolved around the overview and analysis of UNCRPD.
Interesting discussions surfaced up during this session about human rights and how the UNCRPD is being signed by a country. There are four generation of human rights. First generation human rights are those rights which can be realized immediately like civil and political rights. While, the second generation human rights are realized progressively by an individual like social, economic and cultural.

Guest speaker Prasanna Pincha welcomed by facilitators. He took a session on UNCRPD overview, its analysis, on how the UN convention can be used to enable PWDs to realize their rights.

Presentation by Prabhat Sinha, North West Area Office on WHO CBR matrix during group exercise.

India follows the dualist system of international law which signifies that an international commitment only becomes domestically operational when it is made part of a national legislation. India has both signed and ratified UNCRPD hence this international commitment requires that active steps be taken to make the rights available to persons with disabilities.
The flip sides of optional protocol as specified in UNCRPD was also discussed. According to this protocol a person with disability can seek guidance and justice from international committee if their voice is unheard in their country. While UK is the signatory of optional protocol, India has not signed it yet.

After the lunch session, participants were divided in group to work on linking the WHO CBR matrix with programmes supported by Sightsavers.
Day 3: 30th March, 2010
The concluding day area/region wise groups worked on stakeholder analysis for implementing UNCRPD.
Group work in India team for presentation on action plan within next 12 months on social inclusion.

Need a Weekend Planner

Its a weekend and I am upto nowhere as to what I am going to do.

Actually, last weekend was just spent in running around and getting a new phone for myself. The criteria was the most cheapest one available with music player. I managed to get one though P and D has been quite disturbed with this fact. Ms P  madam has been using a phone which is more than her salary.  But I don't blame her, I was alike when I got my first pay check five years back. Second thing which is going to disturb P is that I have a holiday tomorrow.