Social worker Pandit Vikas Sharma and some of his colleagues on THursday criticised the Congress Party's 2014 election manifesto for failing to announce any policy for the benefit of handicapped persons in the country.
Squarely denouncing and blaming both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi for the same, Sharma told media persons here, that despite several representations made to them, and their repeated commitments to table a Bill in Parliament or pass an ordinance for the handicapped, neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi had fullfilled their promises.
Sharma said that since the Congress Party was one of only three political outfits to come out with a manifesto, it was expected that they would announce some sort of policy for the benefit of the handicapped. Sadly, he said, this had not been done.
He said that his support group would be waiting for the BJP manifesto, which is expected later this week, to see whether it would come out with a policy for the handicapped.
He said that if no political party spelt out what it would be doing for the handicapped over the next five years, then the challenged people of Indian society should boycott the polls en masse, and teach these outfits a lesson. Sharma and his colleagues also burnt a copy of the Congress manifesto to register their protest.
As per the last Census carried out in 2011, the country's disabled population has increased by 22.4 per cent as of 2011. The number of disabled, which was 2.19 crore in 2001, rose in 2011 to 2.68 crore — 1.5 crore males and 1.18 crore females.
Rural areas have more disabled people than urban areas. In Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim, the disabled account for 2.5 per cent of the total population, while Tamil Nadu and Assam are among those where the disabled population is less than 1.75 per cent of the total population.
The growth rate of disabled population is more in urban areas and among urban females. The decadal growth in urban areas is 48.2 per cent and 55 per cent among urban females. Among scheduled castes it is 2.45 per cent
In the Census 2001, as per a Home Ministry report, there were over 21 million people in India suffering from one or the other kind of disability. This was equivalent to 2.1 per cent of the population. Then, of the total disabled in the country, 12.6 million were males and 9.3 million were females.
Among the five types of disabilities are sight, movement, mental, speech and hearing.