By: SUREKHA DHALETA
Despite being among the top states in the country in terms of quality of life, Himachal Pradesh sadly has a disabled population higher than the national average. The foremost reason for this may be the difficult terrain of the state that hinders treatment in a sense that disabled people get confined to remote areas where they live without knowing that there condition could be cured. Lack of proper medical facilities is certainly also a major reason but more than that it’s lack of awareness, which is proving to be the biggest handicap.
A glance at some figure on mental disability in India and Himachal
In India about 94 lakh people are estimated to be mentally retarded. About 105 lakh are estimated to be suffering from mental illness. Illnesses in childhood is supposed to be the reason for 42% of cases of mental retardation and about 87% of the mentally disabled are said to have the problem since birth.
History on disability census reveals that data collection on disabilities began with the first countrywide Census in 1871-72 and continued without any interruption till 1931. Collection of data on disabilities in 1941 Census enumeration was hindered due to World War II. Findings reveal that the data collectors were ill equipped to gather the data hence the practice to collect data on disability ceased to exist. Disability data collection once again started in 1981, but it was again discontinued in the last census of 1991.
With sustained exhortations and pressurisation from people, organisations and different NGO’s supporting the cause of disability the Government decided to include the enumeration of disabled people in the 2001 Census. Five types of disability (in seeing, speech, hearing, movement and mental) were listed out for the enumerators with further instructions to record only one disability per person even if he or she suffered from multiple disabilities. In such cases of multiple disabilities it was left to the respondents to decide which category they should be listed in.
State wise estimates (Census 2001)
The state wise estimates reveal that the state with the highest proportion of disabled population is Sikkim with 3.77 per cent, while the lowest proportion of disabled population is Goa with 1.17 per cent disabled. States which have disabled population higher than the national average include Jammu and Kashmir (2.98), Himachal Pradesh (2.57), Uttaranchal (2.29), Rajasthan (2.50), Bihar (2.27), Arunachal Pradesh (3.03), West Bengal (2.30), Orissa (2.78), Madhya Pradesh (2.33), Kerala (2.70) and Tamil Nadu (2.63).
The census data also reveals that the figures are more skewed in favour of rural areas and males as compared to urban areas and females respect
Disability in Himachal Pradesh, Census 2001
|Types of Disability||Persons Affected|
# These figures are referred from the Census 2001,
$ These may be considered as estimates because the exact number is difficult to enumerate as exact number may go unreported due to stigma attached to disabilities especially mental disabilities.
Mental disability in Himachal Pradesh (Census, 2001)