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New Delhi: After registering a gradual rise during the first term of the Narendra Modi government, both the training and employment of persons with disabilities under various central schemes have recorded a marked decline in the regime’s second term.
It was in response to an unstarred question by Trinamool Congress MP Dibyendu Adhikari that the minister of state for social justice and empowerment Pratima Bhoumik submitted the data which revealed how the Union government’s flagship schemes have over the last three to four years become less effective in providing both training and employment to people with disabilities.
Adhikari had asked for the reason why out of the 1.3 crore employable persons with disabilities, only 34 lakh were currently employed. He had also sought the number of persons with disabilities that the government has trained and the number of such trainees placed under various schemes since 2014.
The minister replied that according to Census 2011, there were 2.68 crore persons with disabilities in the country and these included persons with visual, hearing, locomotor and mental disabilities. As per this Census, 36% of the persons with disabilities were employed as workers.
As for the training, the reply stated that the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is implementing a flagship scheme, named “Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY)”, for skill-based training of the youth across the country including those with disabilities.
Further, it said, with the objective to provide skill training to persons with disabilities for enabling them to become self-reliant and productive members of society, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) launched the “National Action Plan (NAP) for Skill Development of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)” in March 2015.
Prior to these schemes, the minister stated, the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) used to provide skill training under the ‘Scheme for Implementation of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (SIPDA)’. However, the training programmes conducted by NHFDC were brought under the NAP in 2017-18.
A look at the year-wise data provided on the performance of these schemes revealed that in the case of the PMKVY, while there was a significant increase in the number of people with disabilities trained – from 305 in 2015-16 to 22,852 in 2019-20 – in the subsequent years this number dropped sharply to 8,563 in 2020-21 and then further to 246 in 2021-22. Even this year only 50 people have been trained till date.
Incidentally, those trained under the scheme actually reduced by around 99% between 2019-20 and 2021-22 as the numbers fell from 22,852 to a mere 246 respectively.
Similarly in case of the persons with disabilities who got employed under PMKVY, the numbers had gone up from 61 in 2015-16 to 10,474 in 2019-20. Thereafter in this segment too there was a sharp decline. Those who got jobs dropped to 2,428 in 2020-21 and then even more to 2,416 in 2021-22, indicating that even after the main COVID-19 year there was little improvement. This year the performance of the scheme has been abysmal, as only two people have got jobs after being trained under it.
The situation with the NHFDC Scheme which later merged into NAP, that was launched by DEPwD, has been no better. Under NHFDC the number of persons with disabilities trained rose from 9,356 in 2014-15 to 18,455 in 2016-17 and then after it merged into NAP, the numbers continued to rise to 54,001 in 2018-19. Thereafter, the data revealed that again the training and employment of PwDs suffered a setback.
The number of trainings dropped to 2,742 in 2019-20 (just about 5% of the previous year’s level) and then to 1,156 in 2020-21. In fact the drop was to the tune of nearly 98 per cent from the peak of 54,001 in 2018-19. Thereafter there was some improvement and the number of PwDs trained rose to 6,669 in 2021-22.
In the case of the PwDs employed after being trained, the story was more or less similar. From 4,605 in 2014-15 (under NHFDC) their number rose to 11,208 in 2016-17 under the scheme. The peak came in 2018-19 when 17,125 people trained under NAP got employed. However, this number too dropped by nearly 90% the following year when only 1,867 persons with disabilities were employed and it reduced to a meagre 357 in 2020-21 and 361 in 2021-22.
The government also stated in the reply that it had released Rs 399.99 crore to National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation, which was a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) functioning under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, since its inception in 1997 as equity support. The Corporation, it said, has been providing loan assistance to persons with disabilities for self-employment out of these funds.