'World Disabled Day' should be renamed as 'International Day of Persons With Special Ability' as such people have made immense contributions to the society and proved that nothing could stop them from achieving their goals, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said today.
He made the remark at a programme in Delhi on International Day of Persons with Disabilities to confer national awards for outstanding achievements and work done towards the empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
He said the name of this day should have been the 'International Day of Persons with Special Abilities'.
Vice President Naidu appealed to people in India and world over to consider his suggestion as specially-abled persons have proved that they were role model for others and second to none.
"We have many remarkable men and women with special abilities amidst us who have excelled in a number of fields. Given the right kind of environment and opportunities they can make immense contribution to the cause of nation building," he said.
He also commended the awardees for their "persistence and courage".
Noting that India had the highest numbers of disabled persons, Mr Naidu said according to the 2011 Census, there were 2.68 crore such persons constituting 2.21 per cent of country's population.
"I fear that this number may still be higher as many persons, specially because those with mental health issues, often hide them due to social stigma attached to these ailments," he said.
Differently-abled persons face severe problems in terms of their social and economic conditions, he said.
"As we have committed to build an inclusive society - a society that is respectful and sensitive to the needs of its most vulnerable sections, we have an onerous responsibility," he said.
To minimize the disabilities from accidents, there is a need to improve road and workplace safety, Mr Naidu said.
"Road injuries caused 65 per cent more disabilities in 2016 than in 1990. I fear, if current trends continue, road accidents may become the leading cause of death and disability in the country. Therefore, we need to work seriously towards improving road safety and spread awareness about safe driving. Recent amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act are a step in the right direction," he said.
On education for disabled persons, the vice president said there should be a special focus on inclusive and special schools so that each disabled child gets good quality education.
"Given the size of the existing infrastructure to be made accessible, there is a need to develop collaborative efforts among all stake holders for developing barrier free environment for disabled persons in the physical infrastructure or transportation.
"I urge the corporates and the private entities to take all steps possible to make their infrastructure accessible to persons with disabilities," he said.
Social Justice and Empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said his ministry was in the process of implementing a Unique ID project to create a national database of all persons with disabilities to help them take government benefits.