New Delhi: A nationwide survey conducted by the EVARA Foundation, Dashamlav and WeCapable has revealed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown on lives of those with disabilities. The total pool of the survey includes more than 2,000 respondents.
Published on 11 August, the study, conducted between 18 and 27 July, reveals that almost 75 per cent of people with disabilities are living with emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. The report also notes that “nearly 43.6% of the total respondents of the present survey are not sharing their problems or emotional state with anyone”. The survey recommends that the state government provide psychological counselling to combat the situation.
The report states that beyond emotional challenges, 64 per cent of people with disabilities have also faced financial crises, with nearly 60 per cent of them having zero income. It is important to underscore that “64.4% of respondents have earned a graduate degree and above”.
Covid-induced job losses mean lack of basic necessities
Addressing how several unemployed people with disabilities depend on the pensions they receive from respective state governments, the report finds that “pandemic has caused severe disruption in the disbursement of disability pension”. The report has urged that this pension must be sent to everyone on time.
For those who were employed or were looking for employment, the pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works. Many have spoken about either losing their jobs or severe business losses owing to the pandemic, and have lost job opportunities as well.
On the disparity in hardship between those living in big cities and those in rural areas or smaller towns, the survey adds that the latter are finding it extremely difficult to ensure they have the basics required to sustain their lives. It recommends that the “State Disability Commissioners should take cognizance and make efforts at the panchayat level to identify PwD who are facing problems related to basic needs like food/shelter/medicines”.
Lalit Kumar, chairman of EVARA Foundation and founder of Dashamlav YouTube channel, said in a statement, “This study tells us the real picture of the state of persons with disabilities in India. The authorities have a lot to do in order to ensure that PwD in India get their rights as enshrined in the RPWD Act 2016 and other government schemes. COVID-19 and lockdown have worsened the already very difficult situation of PwD.”
EVARA Foundation is a “public charitable trust primarily working for empowerment and upliftment of persons with disabilities in India”, while Dashamlav and WeCapable (a channel that creates content related to disability issues and a web portal that publishes disability related information in English language respectively) are both ventures founded by Lalit Kumar.