Forgotten youth: disability and development in India

Forgotten youth: disability and development in India

What are the prospects for disabled young people in India?

While attention is being focused on young people’s potential for social transformation, some of them – such as those with disabilities – remain alienated from mainstream debates on development.  Little is known about the experiences of the millions of disabled young people in India aged between 12 and 24, nor how they and the others around them make sense of their lives and perceive their transition to adulthood as their surrounding milieu is transformed.

The author of this document adapts the framework of transitions proposed by the World Bank’s World Development Report 2007 to examine opportunities for young people with disabilities in the areas of learning, work and citizenship.  The author also existing literature to review secondary data and to analyse the lived experiences of young people in India with disabilities.  Specifically, the author looks at young people with disabilities in the Indian context, participation rates in the education system, work participation rates, and social participation.

The document concludes that there is a need to reconceptualise our understanding of disability, and that identifying factors that enable or hinder young people with disabilities to make use of the facilities that are available to their non-disabled peers is an important concern. To make this feasible, the author argues that it is essential that mechanisms are established that enable a greater involvement and participation of people with disabilities in the policy making process, both at the levels of national and local policy. Greater focus must be placed on listening to the voices of people with disabilities to enable the development, implementation and evaluation of truly disabled friendly policies and programmes.