Written by Mr. Arman Ali, Executive Director – National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)
Budget 2022: Year after year, the disability sector has been sending it’s “asks” to the Ministry of Finance, but persons with disabilities continue to be featured dismally in the Union Budget. And now when we are in the midst of a pandemic and world over the mantra is to ‘Build Back Better’, not much has changed for persons with disabilities. They continue to be the hardest hit by the pandemic and remain one of the most marginalized and neglected groups in India. Loss of access to healthcare, support systems, education, livelihood, and even basic food supplies, continue to be the sore points for persons with disabilities. At times like this, the absence of an ‘inclusive budgeting’ adds to the additional cost of living with a disability which has increased manifold, induced by the pandemic.
Similar to 2021-22, the National Disability Network (NDN) held a Pre-Budget Consultation 2022-23 with experts from the disability and has come up with a number of asks from the Union Budget 2022-23. These expectations and asks have a direct bearing on the lives of persons with disabilities, and include:
Non-availability of disability disaggregated data
· Disability responsive planning and budgeting by all Ministries. For instance, As per CoWIN portal 8,390 persons with disabilities received first dose of Covid-19 and 4018 received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine as on 28th Nov, 2021 
· 5% allocation for persons with disabilities in all the poverty alleviation schemes should not be limited to only the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 but be featured in the Budget of the Ministry of Panchayati and Rural Development as well
· Specific earmarking of budgets for disability under various central/state schemes of different Ministries/Departments
Disability Inclusive Education
· Increase and approach the option of general funding, special allocation to spinal cord injury funding, targeted funding CPC and Verbal, inclusive education,
· Allocation for alternative and accessible teaching learning materials in the form of braille, audio books, teacher training, technology funds, technology
· Need to budget for remuneration for Special Educators to be at par with regular teachers and for adequate remuneration for therapists working in District Early Intervention Centres (under Ministry of Health &Family Welfare) and District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) as mandated by the Supreme Court in Rajneesh Kumar Pandey & Ors versus Union of India and Ors .
Employment and Social Security
· Dedicated budget for reasonable accommodation and sensitization programs for both the public and the private sector
· Increased budget for long term skill development and training for persons with disabilities especially for the IT sector
· Awareness and sensitization programs for both employers and employees with regards to employment vis-à-vis persons with disabilities
Public Health Services
· Universal Health Coverage for all
· Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the income eligibility criteria for persons with disabilities to be increased to Rs.1 lakh per annum and not just restricted to the BPL category
· Budgetary allocation for accessible infrastructure, community hospitals, primary health centres, district hospitals, sub-district hospitals etc.
· Allocation in research around new disabilities for informed policy decisions
· Allocation for sensitization programs for removing stigma around the assumption of women with disabilities being able to conceive
· Similar budget like that of an accessible election budget can be replicated for accessible healthcare of persons with disabilities
Accessibility and Inclusion
· Increase investment in research and development of high-quality assistive aids/appliances
· Providing rebates/concessions to individuals and organizations for using/promoting Universal Design for accessibility in both the physical environment as well as in Information and Communication Technologies and others
· Accessibility to be implemented in the rural area and not limited to only the urban areas
Investment to safeguard livelihoods
· Quantum of State Disability Pension to be made uniform across India by taking into consideration the additional cost of living with a disability
· Unemployment allowance for persons with disabilities who have lost their jobs due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
· Dedicated budgetary allocation for life and health insurance schemes of persons with disabilities where
This year we hope the asks of the disability sector are included in the upcoming Union Budget 2022-23 and we move together towards “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.