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An assessment of the Quality of life of the Intellectually Disabled - India

Kulkarni, S. and Oke, Meera (2007) An assessment of the Quality of life of the Intellectually Disabled - India. In: Successful Projects - What Makes Them Work? A Cross-National Analysis. Inclusion International, London, pp. 16-20.

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The term intellectual disability is often misconceived and misunderstood in India. Most people, including many professionals, still refer to it as ‘mental retardation’; it is often used in the context of mental illness, lunacy or madness. This goes back to British rule and the Indian Lunacy Act 1912. Parents of people with intellectual disability have fought a prolonged and somewhat successful battle demanding that the government of independent India repeal this Act and recognise ‘mental retardation’ as a disability. It has taken many years, even for parents, to understand and accept that ‘mental retardation’ is a disability and not an illness.

The first national conference on “mental retardation” in 1966 voiced the idea that people with intellectual disability can contribute as members of society if they get the opportunity to participate in education, training, work and social activities. Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, who inaugurated the conference, said that the parents of people with intellectual disability had an important role to play in their overall development and progress. The significant outcome of this conference was the parental awakening. Parents then organised themselves by forming associations, creating education facilities and crucially, demanding the government to treat people with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens.

Much has been achieved over the last 40 years with the repeal of the Indian Lunacy Act and a number of other significant legislative changes bringing about education, training and rehabilitation provision for people with intellectual disabilities. Inspired by the international initiatives on disability, such as the World Program of Action and the Standard Rules, the Indian government has adopted a number of new laws. The most important laws are the Persons with Disability [Equal Opportunities, Protection of rights, and full Participation] Act 1995, and the National Trust [for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, and Multiple Disabilities] Act 1999. Both laid the foundations for many different kinds of initiatives.

Many parents are now aware of the rights of their disabled children and are slowly coming out of the charity syndrome. Above all, the parents of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities have come to accept that these conditions are going to remain essentially unchanged through the life span of their children, even into adulthood.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > Children > Child Development
L Education > LC Special aspects / Types of education > Education for the Learning Disabled
Divisions: Centre For Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2016 09:52
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2016 09:54

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