According to the 2011 census, approximately 70-90 million people in India are uniquely-abled. The actual number is certainly larger now. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 15% of the world population is uniquely-abled. This means that India too has a 15% uniquely-abled population.
The real number of uniquely-abled people in India doesn’t show up in studies and surveys. This is because being uniquely-abled is a social taboo in India, as in many other countries, and the correct number goes unreported. Besides, the parameters to define uniquely-abled persons are not properly defined in India. While the Persons with Disability Act was passed in 1995, the society still views an uniquely-abled individual beyond medical definition.
But hope still floats somewhere. The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) observed in 1999 that only about 10,000 uniquely-abled persons were employed by corporate India. While the situation has not much changed, some signs are encouraging. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India will continue to follow a 7.5% growth rate in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The labor markets will expand and companies will have to hunt for inexpensive but reliable employees. This is where the invisible but educated uniquely-abled segment will come in. This talent pool has always proved that it is focused, dependable, loyal, and productive.
Some work has already started in this regard. Concerned government departments, along with the social empowerment ministry, have taken up certain schemes. NGOs have been roped in to help PSUs meet the 3% hiring of uniquely-abled persons and identify the areas in private organizations where they can contribute.
Small steps. But promising nonetheless.