Published: May 2021
Author(s): Paul Chaney

Asia Melbourne Review, Edition 6

Official data tell us there are currently 27 million persons with disabilities in India.  In 2008, the country was swift to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century, aiming to ‘take to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as ‘objects’ of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as ‘subjects’ with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society’.

The Convention has an explicit social development dimension that reaffirms that all Persons with Disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Whilst India’s swift adoption of the Convention appeared to bode well, a recent United Nations’ assessment suggests that implementation has proved problematic. It notes ongoing concern at: ‘legislation, public policies and practices that discriminate against persons with disabilities— in particular: guardianship, institutionalisation, psychiatric treatment and segregated community services based on disability, and negative perceptions’.

These concerns resonate with ongoing research on citizenship rights in India and prompted my benchmark study that analyses civil society views on the impact of the Convention, more than a decade after India’s ratification.

Keywords
Citizenship rights, civil society, disability, India, UN Convention