Bihar State Comprehensive Policy for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)

1 Preamble

People with disabilities in Bihar, according to a Census 2001, are as many as 18,87,611(this is the most conservative estimate and needs further study), live in circumstances of poverty, isolation and stigma. Their experiences have been exacerbated by the lack of services & facilities and vehement attitudinal barriers in all walks of their life. A very low percentage of PwDs in Bihar have been receiving marginal amount of services in a few urban centers through the efforts of Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs).

Guided by the significant changes in international thinking towards a human rights approach to disability, Nitish Kumar, the present Chief Minister of Bihar is determined to realize the protection of rights, full participation and equal opportunities of people with disabilities in the society. The process occurs within the context of the current developmental initiatives and establishment of strong institutions of local self-government through the 73rd & 74th constitutional amendments and concomitant policy development processes in Bihar.

The state Govt. of Bihar has sent its expression of interest to the Government of India specifying it’s intent to augment the status of PwDs through appropriate policy formulation, programming and adequate budgeting. Accordingly, on the request of the State Government, World Bank agreed to provide technical support in the endeavor of preparing the policy and related supportive activities.

The government appointed a task force on Disability in January 2008 with the primary task of developing a Comprehensive Disability Policy for Bihar, in line with Biwako Millennium Framework and UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for PwDs. The disability strategy will amplify the human rights approach to disability intended in the Constitutional Framework.

1. The task force included PwDs, representatives from various stakeholder departments, NGOs and parents group. The lead facilitator for the entire process was World Bank Consultant, expert in Social Policy & Planning. The development of the Comprehensive Disability Policy Framework was a participatory process involving people with disabilities and other stakeholders & role-players. There were series of workshops, interviews and discussions at State and district levels, which led to the production of a Green Paper that was subjected to a broad consultative process, attended by the Secretaries to the Government of Bihar, facilitated and chaired by the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar.

2 State Profile

2.1 History

The history of the land mass currently known as Bihar is very ancient. In fact, it extends to the very dawn of human civilization. Earliest myths and legends of Hinduism the Sanatana (Eternal) Dharma - are associated with Bihar. Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, was a princess of Bihar. It was here that Prince Gautam attained enlightenment, became the Buddha- at the present Bodh Gaya- a town in central Bihar; and the great religion of Buddhism was born. It is here also that Lord Mahavira, the founder of another great religion, Jainism, was born and attained nirvana (death). The tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was born and attained the sainthood of Sikhism, that is became a Guru.

Bihar, the ancient land of Buddha, has witnessed golden period of Indian history. It is the same land where the seeds of the first republic were sown and which cultivated the first crop of democracy. Such fertile is the soil that has given birth to innumerous intellectuals, which spread the light of knowledge and wisdom not only in the country but also in the whole world. The state has its capital at Patna, which is situated on the bank of the holy river Ganga. The state as it is today has been shaped from its partition from the province of Bengal and most recently after the separation of the tribal southern region now called Jharkhand.

Bihar is located in the eastern part of the country (between 83°-30' to 88°-00' longitude). It is an entirely land–locked state, although the outlet to the sea through the port of Kolkata is not far away. Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengal in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradesh in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by Nepal in the north and by Jharkhand in the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two unequal halves by the river Ganga that flows through the middle from west to east.

2.2 Demography

In the last decade (1991-2001), the growth of population in Bihar has increased roughly by 5 percentage points, being 28.43 percent as against 21.34 percent in India. The state of Bihar now contains 8.07 percent of the country’s population according to the provisional population results.

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