In December 2019, M Venkaiah Naidu, the vice president, on behalf of the union ministry of social justice and empowerment, presented the Uttar Pradesh government the National Award of Excellence for doing a “commendable” job in the field of rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. The state received a total of three awards for doing “excellent” work for people with disabilities. In contrast, the response to a right to information application from the Uttar Pradesh government’s department for the empowerment of persons with disabilities revealed that only a miniscule percentage of the people with disabilities are able to access the grants, programmes and schemes that they are entitled to. The response also shows that the number of people enrolled in some schemes has consistently fallen since Ajay Singh Bisht, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who is commonly called Yogi Adityanath, came to power in 2017. The failure of the Uttar Pradesh government in supporting and rehabilitating people with disabilities is further accentuated by the poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Disabled Persons in India Report, published in 2016 by the central ministry of statistics and programme implementation noted that Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of people with disabilities across all Indian states. The report classifies disability as “an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions,” including impairment of sight, hearing, movement, as well as mental disability, mental illness and those with multiple disabilities. The report noted that 41,57,514 people with disabilities resided in the state, which accounted for 15.5 percent of the nation’s population of those with disabilities, according to the 2016 report. The report noted that Uttar Pradesh was home to 6,77,713 people suffering from some kind of disability in movement; 1,81,342 with intellectual disability; 10,27,835 in hearing; 2,66,586 in speech; 76,603 with mental illness; 21,7011 with multiple disabilities and 9,46,436 categorised as “Any Other.”
The report also noted that those with disabilities have a higher likelihood to face other forms of societal deprivation. A majority of the state’s people with disabilities, the report said, were unable to work for a living, with 27,11,121 being non-workers. Widows with disability too accounted for a population of 3,34,998, of which 2,42,000 widows were above the age of 60. Persons with disability also has to face the brunt of child marriage as out of total 18,11,099 married people with disabilities, 12,779 are below the age of 14.