Social Exclusion of Disabled Persons in India and their Attitude Towards Society

A study of locomotor disables of Pondicherry

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2011

77 Pages, Grade: A-




List of Tables

Lis of diagrams

Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: Review of Literature

Chapter Three: Research Methodology

Chapter Four:Data Analysis and Interpretation

Chapter Five: Main Findings and Suggestions


Interview Schedule


This research study would not have been possible without the guidelines and the help of several individuals who in one way or another contributed and extended their valuable assistance in the preparation and completion of this study.

First and foremost, we owe a debt of gratitude to our beloved teachers at Pondicherry University whose guidance and valuable suggestions throughout this research work provided us encouragement, ideas and confidence. Without their sympathetic understanding, guidance and support this work would never have been completed.

We are indebted to Mr. Iyyappan, the President of Ozone Handicap Society who extended his full support to us in the collection of Primary data and Mr. Arumukham and Mr. Karunakaran for their help in searching for secondary information.

Our sincere thanks are due to all respondents who spent their precious time for completion of this research.

We wish to extend our thanksto our batch mates at CSSEIP, Pondicherry University (2010) Malathi, Agnes, Shakthee, Mudasir, Bhagavathi, Shekar, Irusan, Jayachandran, Ganga and Naga whose regular discussions and interactions helped in many ways to complete this research. And we rememberother friends at campus Sumitra, Tito, Lakshmi, Nameer, Lenin, Akshay, Suchi, Sanu, Rani, Rajesh, Achu, Chinnu, RenjuChandra Mohan and many more .

Last but not the least ; we remember our familymembers and the omnipresent Power for giving uscourage &the strength for completing this research study.

Reeba & Umer


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illustration not visible in this excerpt

Chapter: 1 Introduction

Different people look on the subject disability in many ways. The Person with Disability (PWD) are consider as an object of pity, sympathy, isolated or rejected in the family and other social institutions. People maintain a social distance and treat disabled as outsiders. The development of disabled individuals depends on their personality and the way society treats and motivates them. This will be determined by the attitude towards his/her own disability, towards other disabled people and other members of the society as well as the attitude of the society towards him. Here the researchers going to discuss what is disability, attitude, and social exclusion level they face.

1.1 Attitude

Attitude is one’s judgment about a person, group, object or an idea that how he evaluate things. One can’t omit the word attitude from the social definition of disability. Attitude can create or remove barriers to the life of persons with disabilities. Attitudes are learned pre-dispositions to respond in a favourable or unfavourable manner to a particular person, behaviour, belief or thing. An attitude implies a changing emotional state of mind. It must be remembered that attitudes are expressed not only by word or mouth, but more explicitly by facial expression and behaviour. The immediate reaction towards the disabled individual whose physical defect is understood is that he is a different man who lacks something which other normal person has.

According to Charles Osgood, attitudes can be divided into three.

Moral Dimension: things evaluated good or bad

Potency Dimension: strong or weak and

Activity Dimension: active or passive.

These dimensions are also used to classify societal attitude towards persons with disabilities. When person with disabilities who have special divine gift if they are good, strong and active. However when person with disability were regarded as bad, weak and inactive, social norms and policies would favour their destruction. According to Chan (2002) the relationship with others is an important factor in disable’s life to become part of the society. To include the disabled in the society there should have an open attitude towards disabled.

1.2 Common Attitude

a) Curiosity: people become so curious when they meet a person with disability and they put questions to the individual as to how he acquired his disability and how far it affects his life. Some persons do not confine curiosity to them, but also call the attention of their other people to the physically handicapped as if to share their guilt in looking at something forbidden.
b) Pity: pity towards the physically handicapped implies that the person who feels pity recognises the sorry state of affairs, but it also implies that one who does pitying considers the object of pity less fortunate or less ale than oneself. Pity is a somewhat positive attitude, but it is bad firstly, because it makes its object feel inferior and secondly, because it does not result in any constructive effort to ameliorate the situation.
c) Over – solicitousness: this attitude is generally towards the handicapped member of the family. It is compensatory, denoting a strong effort to deny an unconscious rejection of the physically handicapped member. Such behaviour disguises unconscious feelings of non-acceptance feelings which the individual is not ready to accept consciously.
d) Mild dislike or embarrassment: many people feel uncomfortable in the presence of a physically handicapped individual and cannot find a topic on which they can talk with such persons. This is a mild form of rejection.
e) Repugnance: a feeling of running away from the person with a severe locomotor deformity is more common than is admitted
f) Indifference: most of us are in the habit of being indifferent about what happens to our fellow beings unless it happens to us or to our own people. Indifference is another widely prevalent attitude.
g) Fear: Most of the physically handicapped people are feared by the common man. He tries to avoid a handicapped person because of the fear that by associating with him, he may himself acquire the defect. Physical handicap is often identified with the disease that may have caused crippling and people are panicky about catching the infection. The more severe and visible the deformity, the greater is the fear of contagion.
h) Sympathy: It literally means “feeling with”. In sympathy the object is considered to be a fellow human being who is equal in status with the subject.

1.3 Attitude of society towards Person with Disability

Murphy (1990) explains disability as a ‘disease of social relation’ and social relations between disabled and the able bodied are tense and problematic. And this situation is known to every person with disabilities. They face a lot of questions from others out of curiosity and unable to answer that. They are facing social hurdles in the form of prejudice, discrimination and avoidance. They become object of pity while they are in a group. They are socially isolated but it is mirrored by physical isolation.

There are many factors that influence and determine inter-personal relationship between the able bodied and the disabled. One of the most significant factors is concerning the extent and nature of disablement. A common man’s reactions to gross physical deformities, like cerebral palsy, the victim of which presents and ghastly appearance, with constant jerky movements of the limbs, incoherent speech and saliva dripping down the mouth, are at one’s indicative of repulsion apprehension and avoidance. In contrast a leg amputee wearing an artificial limb may not cause such an embarrassment to the onlooker, for his deformity is not visible to the eye.

An individual is part and product of his social environment and so is a person with disability. His relationship, attitude and behaviour patterns are vitally affected by the nature and extent of the harmony or disharmony of his relationship with the family members, relatives, friends, community members, workplace colleagues and employers etc. Tragically enough, the persons with disabilities are “less handicapped by their own disability than by the social attitude” (Silver, 1957) meted out to them in every walk of life (Shrivastava, 1970). More than physical disability the individual disabled face more problems in the societal attitude and behaviour.

A disabled person, like every other person, is a ‘social being’ therefore, no different from other able-bodied persons. It is an irony, however, that he is not accepted by the society as he is, for it invariably focuses its attention on his disabilities rather than on his abilities, victims of disease, accident or negligence, they have been further victimized by their peculiar and irrational prejudice of the society. Social Scientists have known for decades that able-bodied people tend to avoid interacting with people with disabilities, because they are uncertain about how to behave in their presence (Thompson; 1982, Yamamoto; 1971).

1.3.1 Parent’s attitude

Parents play an important role in training and socialization of their child. When they identify their child is a person with disability they face problem to cope up with that situation. Denials of reality, self pity, guilt feeling, shame, depression, rejection of the child are the common reactive patterns. The presence of the child increases the stress level of the family. Defensive reactions are likely to occur; they think it is because of their sin. At times parents deny the fact that their child is a person with disability. They reject the child because of resentment. So child is also doing the same. But he is not able to express his blame so he becomes prey of guilt, anxiety and self hostility. Some parents started overprotecting their child out of sympathy. This will also spoil child’s future. Having a child with disability increases the financial burden of the family. If the parents are economically stable most of the time it leads to a positive attitude towards the child.

1.3.2 Relative and sibling’s attitude

In every family, sibling has an important role in the personality development of the child. Brothers and sisters influence each other and play important roles in each other's lives. Indeed, sibling relationships make up a child's first social network and are the basis for his or her interactions with people outside the family (Powell & Ogle, 1985). Each child's personality and temperament play an important role in their response toward a sibling, including one with a disability. Although both positive and negative feelings exist in all sibling relationships, McHale and Gamble (1987) states "for school-age children and young adolescents, these relationships tend to be more positive than negative in their feeling tone. Furthermore, children with disabled siblings appear to have more positive and fewer negative behavioural interactions than do those with non-disabled siblings". These positive aspects include higher levels of empathy and altruism, increased tolerance for differences, increased sense of maturity and responsibility, and pride in the sibling's accomplishments (Powell & Ogle, 1985). But the attitudes of siblings are greatly influenced by the attitude of parents. Relatives generally have positive attitudes towards the child with a disability and display deep concern and pity towards the family.

1.3.3 Neighbours and peer group attitude

Peer groups are an important influence throughout one's life; Peer groups offer children and adults alike the opportunity to develop various social skills, such as leadership, sharing or teamwork, and empathy. But most of the time locomotor disabled children lack this because of mobility problems. Friends are usually very active and they took part in playing which needs physical support. However, friends and neighbours are very helpful, they play with them but sometimes they also start misbehaving and pass harsh and rude remarks whenever they commit any mistakes. Neighbours and peer groups are considering disabled persons as inferior or unable human beings from physical, vocational and social aspects and treat them as different species and try to isolate or segregate them as far as possible.

1.3.4 Institutions attitude School/Educational institution

Education enhances the overall development of a person. So schools are having an important role in a disabled person’s life. But most of the time because of various reasons they are not able to complete their studies on time. Architectural barriers, teasing from friends, health related problems are various reasons. The nature of student’s disability creates a stigma and it impacts the attitude of teachers. Most of the time they are not able to give much care for the student with disability. SarvaShikshaAbhiyan (Education for All) has made a concerted effort to promote the inclusion of children with special needs to mainstream the society. Religion

Much of the literature on disability in India has pointed to the importance of the concept of karma in attitudes to disability, with disability perceived either as punishment for misdeed in the past lives of the person with disability or the wrongdoing of their parents. In Bible it is mentioned that the sins of the parents will be visited upon their children up to the third or even further generation. Manusmriti mentions that a disabled person reaps in this life the seeds of misdeeds that he had sown in the former life. Even today similar kind of belief seems to be prevailing in rural India. Culture

Attitude towards disabled people have been predominantly negative in direction and the intensity of beliefs and behaviours appears to vary according to culture. In the prehistoric days, the disabled persons were eliminated through the naturalprocess as, ‘survival of the fittest’ was the principle for survival and there was no place for the weak and sick people. Children born with handicap conditions were not protected and they were allowed to die at birth or in infancy. Most of the primitive tribes would discard their disabled fellow beings on the grounds of their incapability to fight the foes and the wild animals. There are examples of Eskimos, Dene, Masai, Dieri, Carib and many other such tribes of North America, Australia, Hawai and Africa following inhuman practices with the handicapped. On the other hand, there are examples of tribes such a Blackfoot Indians, Andamanese, Mongols who cared for the disabled persons. In some cultures legal and social sanctions were given for female infanticide but disabled children were protected. In others, war disabled were given good care. In some instances it was believed that physical deformities and mental disorders were the result of possession by demons and therefore, afflicted persons were rejected, punished or killed.

The importance of language in disability discourse Gorden and Rosenblum (2001) identify that through naming categories it is possible to identify who holds the power and therefore deny rights and privileges to others. Labelling disabled people with terms that reflect negatively is likely to have a detrimental effect upon attitude, changing them in a negative direction. The language used to talk about disability and impairment affects the way society views person with disability. In appropriate language can be disempowering, humiliating and rude. Frequently used terms also express perceptions of helplessness and dependency. Victim, abnormal, defective, infirm, invalid, unsound these are commonly used by public. Political

There are many organisations, policies and programs for the development of person with disabilities in national and international level. Following are the organisations which working for the empowerment of person with disability .

- United Nations: The UN and its various agencies have an important role in making policies and programs internationally. On 9 December 1975, United Nations declared the rights of disabled person. Disabled persons have the inherent right to respect for their human dignity. They are holding civil and political rights as other human beings. Disabled persons have the right to medical, psychological and functional treatment, including prosthetic and orthotic appliances, to medical and social rehabilitation, education, which will enable them to develop their capabilities and skills to themaximum. They have the right to economic and social security to lead a decent life. They have the right, according to their capabilities, to secure and retain employment or to engage in a useful, productive and remunerative occupation. Person with disability also have the right to live with their families and to participate in all social, creative or recreational activities. They should be protected against all exploitation, all regulations and all treatment of a discriminatory, abusive or degrading nature. It proclaims the disabled person can enjoy these rights without any discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, region, and nationality.Through the Division for Social Policy and Development, programme on disabled persons, promotes, monitors, and evaluates the implementation of the World Programme of Action and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for persons with disabilities.

- UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific: ESCAP assists governments of member states and self-help organizations to create inclusive, barrier-free, rights-based societies for persons with different disabilities.It supports governments in the region to promote the participation of people withdisabilities in the development process.

- International Labour Organization: ILO promotes social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. The ILO Disability Programme promotes decent work for women and men with disabilities and helps people with disabilities to participate fully in labour markets. The ILO approach is based on the principles of equal opportunity, equal treatment, non discrimination, and mainstreaming.

- World Health Organization: The WHO disability and rehabilitation program supports member states in the development of policies and programs that enhance the quality of life and equality of opportunities for all people with disabilities. WHO focuses on Community Based Rehabilitation as a strategy for integration of rehabilitation services into primary health care. The major objective of CBR is to enable people with disabilities to maximize their physical and mental abilities, to access regular services and opportunities, and to achieve full social integration within their communities and societies. This objective uses the broader concept of rehabilitation, which includes equalization of opportunities and community integration

- United Nations Development Programme: UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience, and resources to help people build a better life. People with disabilities are identified as target beneficiaries in its six focal areas.

- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: its main aim is promotion of inclusive education for children which requires schools to accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic, or other abilities.

- The World Bank: WB is adding staff to support the Office of Disability and Development. WB conducting various researches and programs to know various issued related to people with disabilities.

The Constitution of India ensures equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals and implicitly mandates an inclusive society for all including persons with disabilities. Government is doing various welfare programs for the person with disabilities. Following are government undertaken programs.

- Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment: Government of India's central ministry that looks after the affairs relating to the welfare and education of persons with disabilities.
- National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation: Provides information on loans available for persons with disabilities and their families.
- National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped: Set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 1984, it works primarily in the area of human resource development, research and development, development models of care and rehabilitation, consultancy services to voluntary organizations, documentation and dissemination, extension and outreach programmes.
- National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral palsy, Mental retardation and multiple disabilities: The Government has been increasingly concerned about the need for affirmative action in favour of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities.
- Rehabilitation Council of India: The RCI is a statutory body set up by the Government of India with the twin responsibility of standardizing and regulating the training of personnel and professional in the field of rehabilitation and special education.

1.4 Person with Disabilities Act 1996.

The Act, which catalogues the rights of people with disabilities in India, was passed by the Parliament of India on December 12, 1995, and notified on February 7, 1996. The Act was a landmark in that, for the first time, it stated that people with disabilities had the right to equal opportunities and full participation and that these rights would be protected by the law. The Act elaborates, at some length, duties of the government at various levels and the other establishments under their control. It also provides useful guidance regarding the type and nature of measure that would equalize opportunities for the enjoyment of basic rights and freedoms.

This Act is having mainly 14 chapters as following. Chapter one preliminary deals with various terms and its definitions explained in the whole Act. Chapter two the central coordination committee, deals with the power, performance and functioning of central coordination committee. Chapter three the state coordination committee, deals with the power, performance and functioning of state coordination committee. Chapter four prevention and early detection of disabilities, deals that how to prevent occurrence of disability. Chapter five education, talks about the right to education of a person with disabilities under the age of 18 and it talks about special education, special schools and vocational training centres. Chapter six employment, provide rights to employment. It reserves 3 percent reservation for person with disabilities and relaxation in upper age limit. Chapter seven affirmative action, talks about provision for aids and appliances, and preferential allotment of land for concession for person with disabilities. Chapter eight is on non-discrimination, explains the ways to non- discriminate person with disabilities from society. For that accessible and barrier free environment should create. Chapter nine research and manpower development, describes the importance of research in various filed like disability prevention, community based rehabilitation. Chapter ten recognition of institutions of person with disabilities, deals with the importance of certification of institutions for person with disabilities. Chapter eleven institutions for person with severe disabilities, suggest government to establish and maintain institutions for person with disabilities. Chapter twelve the chief commissioner and commissioner for person with disabilities, explains the role of chief commissioner. Chapter thirteen, social security suggest the government and local authorities to assist financially to the nongovernmental organisations and last chapter miscellaneous deals with the mode of punishment for malpractices and other related things.

1.5 Prevalence of disability

To plan and execute programs and policies data is very much needed. To know the size of disabled population in India the data is started collecting.Census 2001 has revealed that over 21 million people in India as suffering from one or the other kind of disability. This is equivalent to 2.1% of the population. Among the total disabled in the country, 12.6 million are males and 9.3 million are females. Among the five types of disabilities on which data has been collected, disability in seeing at 48.5% emerges as the top category. Others in sequence are: In movement (27.9%), Mental (10.3%), in speech (7.5%), and in hearing (5.8%). Puducherry census reveals 25,857 identified as disabled. Under that 10,646 comes under visual disability, 1,818 people have speech disability, 2,277 persons having hearing disability, 8,830 citizens suffers with locomotor disability and 2,286 persons comes under mental disability.

In order rehabilitate the above mentioned target group based on their capacity the Puducherry government came out with many number of welfare programs followed by government orders. Those particulars discussed below. There are two special schools and five homes are functioning under the control welfare department. Economic and Educational Development: Puducherry Corporation for Development of Women and Handicapped Persons Ltd. is functioning as the channelizing agency of the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation in Puducherry, to implement the economic and educational development schemes of the NHFDC in Puducherry. Around 20 welfare programs being implement by Puducherry government. Government orders and programs are given below. To strengthening the mobility government provide motorised four wheeler for educated locomotor disabled. G.O.MS. No. 36/2003.Wel (SW-V) talks about supply of invalid carriages (motor cycle). To fulfilling the minimum food requirements for person with disabilities government provides 15 kg rice per month to the disabled person’s family. G.O. Ms No. 13/2007.Wel (SW-V) talks about free distribution of rice for person with disabilities. Based on the percentage of the disability government of Puducherry provides financial assistance to meet medical and other expenditure. G.O.Ms. No -30/2002-Wel (SW-V) talks about Financial Assistance to physically disabled persons.

1.6 Definition of disability

A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, and developmental or some combination of these. Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. - World Health Organization International Classification of Impairment, disability and handicaps as per WHO classification


Impairment is any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomic structure or function.


A disability is any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.


A handicap is a disadvantage resulting from impairment or a disability that limits or prevents the fulfilment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex and socio-cultural factors) for that individual.

1.7 Types of disability

Person with Disability Act 1996 describes seven types of disability they are : blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation, mental illness. Here explaining what locomotor disability in detail is.

1.7.1 Locomotors disability

The term Locomotor disability is applied to the people who find movement of their limbs and trunk difficult. This includes people with impairment caused by birth defects, brain damage at birth or due to trauma later in life, spinal cord disorders and injury. Physical disabilities could be broadly classified into two types: 1. Neuromotor impairments, 2. Musculoskeletal conditions.

A. Neuromotor impairments: When the nervous system is affected or damaged (either the brain, spinal cord or other nerves), the ability to move the body or the limbs (depending on the structure damaged) will be either lost or decreased. The conditions grouped under neuromotor impairments are: a) Seizure disorders, b) Spinal cord disorders, c) Polio, d) Cerebral palsy, e) Cerebrovascular Accidents.

B. Musculo Skeletal conditions: Conditions which affect the muscles, bones, joints may be grouped under this head. The conditions are: a) Juvenile arthritis b) Muscular dystrophy c) Trauma and amputation d) Clubfoot


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Social Exclusion of Disabled Persons in India and their Attitude Towards Society
A study of locomotor disables of Pondicherry
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Umer Jan Sofi (Author)Reeba Mariyam Cherian (Author), 2011, Social Exclusion of Disabled Persons in India and their Attitude Towards Society, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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