Introduction of Quota for Disabled to contest Lok Sabha& State Assembly elections in India
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Did you know that, Sadhan Gupta became the first blind parliamentarian in independent India in 1953, Yamuna Prasad Shastri, who was blind was also a “member of Lok Sabha” from Rewa, MP, who lost his right eye sight 1955 during “Goa Liberation Movement” and in 1975 he became totally blind. Om Prakas Chautala, the former CM of Haryana, Jaipal Reddy, the former union minister of the cabinet and Minati Barik from Odisha have all showed that the barriers of disability can be broken for the upliftment of the society and these are just few examples and the list goes on.
We all, with keen interest, voted in the 16th Lok Sabha election, and are gearing up for upcoming Lok Sabha elections but what we failed to notice was that the disabled community in India is very much under-represented in both Lok Sabha and in the state assemblies. Indian disabled, who account for 2.21% of the entire population (census 2011), are woefully under-represented in many disciplines; with politics, we see some of the worst numbers.
In 2016, the Government of India passed the ‘Right of Persons with Disability Bill’, which is silent on the provisions for ensuring representative participation of the disabled in elected positions in the central and state assemblies. Though the ‘Right to Persons with Disability Bill’ provides for 4% reservation for the disabled in the public employment, including the civil services in the country, such a quota is not provided for the disabled community in the elections to the central, state legislative assemblies and in Panchayat elections. Even political parties are not considering giving an opportunity for disabled community on “social responsibility basis” but are placing candidates based on popularity.
The right to take part in political and public life is a fundamental rule of the ‘International Human Rights Law’. It was first set out in Article 21 of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)’ and was further elaborated in Article 25 of the ‘International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)’.
Political rights have been further traced in a series of international and regional human rights instruments. Among them, the ‘Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)’ was the first to expand the right to take part in political and public life in the context of disability. Clause 29 of CRPD states that “state parties should ensure that people with disabilities have political rights, as well as an opportunity to enjoy them on an equal footing with others”.
India is a signatory to the CRPD in, 30th May 2007. Article 326 of the ‘Constitution of India’ provides for the ‘Right to be Elected’ under the ‘Right to Adult Suffrage’. However, the Indian government has so far not introduced any provisions to ensure that the disabled community has equal representation in the parliament, state assemblies and panchayats in the country.
Representation of the disabled in elected political bodies can bring about a beneficial change to the disabled community and help to shape better inclusive policies. A quota of 4% of the total 545 seats in the Lok Sabha would provide 27 seats for the disabled community. At present, we barely have a few disabled members in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state assemblies and panchayats.
In the present day, we do have many Acts and Rules which aim to produce a barrier-free environment for all classes of the society. Unfortunately, the disabled community in the country still faces huge challenges, ranging from environmental barriers to social barriers. These barriers have limited the participation of the disabled in many disciplines, especially in the political system.
India is progressing towards inclusive development of whole communities. Unfortunately, the expected levels of inclusiveness for the disabled community have not been achieved yet in many facets of the society. Adequate representation of the disabled in the Lok Sabha, State assemblies and Panchayats will be a huge step towards reaching inclusive development and help disabled community in rural areas to develop required infrastructure for themself to empower them. A quota for the disabled for contesting in the Lok Sabha, State assembly elections and pachayats can ensure equal representation of the disabled community in the country.
The disabled community in India has been gradually making it to the forefront of public life. Inclusive policies goes a long way in enabling the disabled community and providing them with equal opportunities to exercise their rights, attain their potentials and contribute to the nation’s growth. A quota for the disabled for contesting in the Lok Sabha, state assembly elections and Panchayat elections will be a major progressive step in our journey to inclusiveness.
Hence, I request your support to put forward this proposal for the “Quota” for the disabled community for contesting in the Lok Sabha, State Assembly elections and Panchayat elections, to be considered in the upcoming parliamentary session and also requesting political parties in India to provide opportunity to Disabled community on the basis of “Social Responsibility” to represent their community.
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