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Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Social Justice – Persons With Disabilities


Source: IE

Context: The decision to omit disability-related questions from the sixth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-6) has raised concerns about the understanding and representation of disability issues in India.

  • Persons with disabilities make up around 2.21% of the country’s population, which is approximately 2.68 crore people according to the 2011 Census.


Reasons for under representation of Persons with Disabilities:

  • The inadequate understanding of the term “disability.”
  • The government report on ‘Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in India – A Statistical Profile: 2021’ only acknowledges eight categories of disabilities, failing to account for the 21 categories recognized by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWDA).
  • This oversight is particularly concerning for “invisible disabilities,” such as mental health-related illnesses, which affect nearly 24 lakh persons but are not adequately addressed in the data.


Issues because of under representation of Persons with Disabilities:

  • Lack of Accurate Data: Without including questions related to disabilities, it becomes challenging to gather accurate and up-to-date data on the disabled population in India.
  • Invisibility of Invisible Disabilities: Many disabilities, particularly “invisible disabilities” like mental health conditions, often go unnoticed or unreported. The omission of questions related to such conditions exacerbates the invisibility of these disabilities.
  • Limited Policy Insights: Policies and programs designed to support people with disabilities may not be comprehensive or targeted effectively without a clear understanding of the disability landscape.
  • Exclusion from Development Goals: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasize the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities.
  • Barriers to Accessing Services: People with disabilities often face barriers in accessing healthcare, education, employment, and social services.
  • Underreporting of Disabilities: When individuals do not see their specific disabilities reflected in data collection efforts, they may be less inclined to self-identify or seek support.
  • Stigmatization and Discrimination: When disabilities are not recognized or understood, individuals with disabilities may face exclusion, bias, or negative stereotypes.
  • Missed Opportunities: Comprehensive data on disabilities can provide valuable insights into the diverse needs and experiences of people with disabilities.


Insta Links:

Disability Rights


Mains Link:

 UPSC – 2017

Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss.