RUSTED DREAMS IN THE RUSTIC AIR

             Disability is defined as a condition of the body or mind which makes certain activities and interactions difficult for the person with the condition. It hinders the person’s freedom to engage in certain movement or activity. The world has seen a constant cramping of these people’s rights by the “abled”. Nowadays, many organizations have come forward and raised their voice for the concerns of people with disabilities and their efforts are evident. The United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) (UN, 2006) provides vast opportunities to increase awareness of disability around the world. The committee brought in the idea of a social model which focuses on equal access, social opportunities, health, education, employment, political, economic and social development as well as elimination of social barriers. As a result of these huge leaps, we can see awareness generation classes and career guidance classes conducted in many parts of the world . But is it really possible for us to generalize this? Is the scenario the same in rural areas as well?

             In spite of the emphasis on the right-based approach to disability, about 82% of disabled people worldwide live below the poverty line. Approximately 60-80% of the total 60 million disable people of India live in rural areas with little access to basic facilities. Social and economic discrimination, architectural, transportation, institutional and policy barriers continue to confine the disabled persons within their, unable to access opportunities.
            In today’s world, a person’s economic status decides his standard of living, dignity and respect in a society. ‘Livelihood' not only refers to the ability to earn but also the opportunity to develop one’s full potential with control over factors that shapes his/her life and contribute to society’s development. Betterment in market services, basic amenities and rural infrastructure can uplift the livelihood of people in rural areas. However, the condition of persons with disabilities in rural areas is grim in nature. The statistics show shocking accounts of unemployment among aged working persons with disabilities. Furthermore, unemployment among women with disability in rural India is almost 100%. In villages like Puri in India, employment/self-employment for persons with disability is almost non-existent. The lack of proper treatment due to the uncompassionate attitude of their family members is another reason for their low quality of living. While documenting the many reasons for poor condition of life of persons with disabilities in rural areas of our country, social exclusion, lack of awareness and subjection to intense abuse become major factors. Even when technological and medical advancement have taken over the world, people with disabilities are often tagged as ‘having something wrong with them’.
             Most of these disabled persons believe that contributing to the family income might create a reformation in the attitude of the family members and their villagers towards them. Therefore, provisions for skills training and treatment, credit, raw materials and marketing of the products and availability of work in the village can improve their livelihood status. They also require proper support from local bodies for funding and monitoring. By this we mean the pensions, allowances and provision of disability card, insurance schemes etc. Successful identification of markets for their products and services, continuous feedback and suggestions for the upgrading and customizing of their works according to the contemporary parameters are steps of monitoring. Financial independence in this scenario is a leap ahead towards inclusion and the same provides them better livelihoods.