2.21% of India’s population is disabled pegged at 2.7 Cr. Of this there are close to 1.58 Cr people who are non-workers in age band 15 to 59 years forming 58% of the total disabled population. Of this close to 5 million are blind alone. The economic cost to both individuals and society of disability in a country like ours is staggering. Disability often leads to unemployment, which in the absence of adequate welfare support, leads to poverty, hunger and a low standard of living. There is also loss of economic productivity for a nation as a whole. Current financial loss to the economy is in the range of 5% to 7% of the total GDP as per The World Bank.
Challenges to Employment of Blind & other PwD
- Treated as social pariah – Irrespective of history proving otherwise- (reference Hellen Kellar), Blind have forever been treated as social outcasts and a burden on the family. They have never been promoted to study, be independent or collaborate to work at home or otherwise. Over the years, this has proven to be a huge reason for lower self-esteem and a huge lack of self confidence amongst them. This has lead to more & more blind to remain in the confines of their homes feeling absolutely dejected and a burden on family & society alike.
- Gap between intention & effort with respect to government schemes – Government of India has over the years come up with multiple PwD friendly schemes and programs which are supposed to help promote education, skilling, training & livelihood. However, lack of advocacy & awareness on this front has led to operational inefficiency of the schemes as well lack of receptiveness from organizations & prospective employers. Specific challenges:
- Training imparted is low on employability, lacks quality & a homogeneous approach
- Low penetration and access of trainings to people living in the Rural India.
- Lack of commitment from potential employers
- Treated as workforce pariah – While corporates today talk about diversity and inclusivity, it mostly gets either limited by sex or by caste. Most corporates, who do tend to hire PwD, stick to safer choices like aurally impaired or physically challenged people. To a large extent people with blindness & intellectual disability are treated as incapacitated not only from sight & motor functions but from all other aspects as well. This is primarily due to their lack of exposure and understanding of what they are capable of.
Blind & other PwD as an opportunity
- Low attrition:
Today one of the biggest challenges an organization faces is high attrition and the cost attached to it. Training a new resource and building his capability to the expected level of delivery takes huge time as well as human resource and money which can be taxing for an organization. With Blind & other PwD comes huge amount of stability and form. They prove to be a huge asset for organizations given their higher level of commitment.
- High productivity:
Out of the 10 hour shift a physically capacitated person has on job, he delivers job worth not more than 5 hours, given the available distractions in his area of work. PwD bring to the table a dedicated work shift which guarantees higher degree of productivity compared to sighted people
- Value the job:
PwD value the job assigned to them more than a physically capacitated person given the perception of their incapacities. They stretch themselves to prove their mettle at work.