India is the largest country in terms of the number of disabled people. This number accounts for more than one million people according to the various surveys conducted by NGOs and central government. However the facilities or privileges given to these specially-abled people are less in number.

There are legislations protecting the rights of people suffering from various physical and mental disabilities, but these lack in execution and implementation. To give this situation a positive push, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has recently launched “Nirmaya” a Health Insurance Scheme for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities. The motivating factor of this new policy is that a large number of persons will be benefited in terms of getting quality medical services in their respective areas through this scheme. Nirmaya is a cashless scheme; under this a person need not pay even a penny for the services offered to him if he is admitted in hospital for an expenditure up to Rupees 1 lakh. This scheme pays special homage to the real problems of the poor disabled people and this is shown in the policy where even transport arrangements are made to ensure that the patients reach the hospitals. The scheme has a wide spectrum of various well needed medical and para-medical services. Nonetheless, it also covers OPD services. The premium of the insurance scheme is paid by the National Trust for the Below Poverty Line persons, which is made under the constitution of India and gets financial assistance from each general budget. A special and necessary provision is made under a clause of the scheme in which the above poverty line persons can also avail this facility by paying the suitable premium.

The Ministry is launching this scheme in 10 districts on a pilot basis in various states and will evaluate its pros and cons to further develop the scheme. The policy in its final avatar will be launched on a pan-India basis and will have a holistic approach for disabled people. At present the policy is enforced in Central Delhi- Delhi, Kaimur- Bihar, Chandigarh-Haryana, Jabalpur-Madhya Pradesh, Agartala-Tripura, and Raeareily -UP, Erode-Tamil Nadu, Ernakulam-Kerala, Ahmedabad-Gujarat and Bhageshwar in Uttarakhand. The scheme will be implemented in joint collaboration of the Human Resource Departments of both State and Central Government departments and most of the fund will be provided by the central government.

However, it is noteworthy that in our country; the basic civic regulations are not implemented. Some of the general practices that are followed all over the globe are not even made legal in our nation. Most of the funds that come for the education and rehabilitation of people with disabilities comes from foreign funding agencies like UNESCO or other international NGOs. The provision of special schools to provide primary education to specially privileged people is still an unfulfilled dream in the even the most advanced metros of India. These are the things that we should do for our fellow-citizens who need us.

Saurabh Sharma

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