[AI] Government planns Support for caregivers

avinash shahi shahi88avinash at gmail.com
Fri Jul 3 03:27:10 PDT 2015

New Delhi, July 2: She has no fixed work hours. Every day is a
weekday. And she doesn't get paid.

There are millions like her - primary caregivers, who take care of
disabled family members, especially their offspring, but whose
uncomplaining labour, year after year, has remained unsung.

Now finally, these women can look forward to some sort of recognition
- and a leg-up. For the first time, the government is thinking of a
policy for these women, which includes training to make them
"self-sufficient so they can work from home" and earn money.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has already held consultations
with stakeholders, including disability rights activists, said an

Under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which is
pending in Parliament, caregivers have been described as "any person
including parents and other family members who with or without payment
provides care, support or assistance to a person with disability".

But the bill does not provide for any rights for caregivers, although
there exists a provision by which a person with a disability with
"high support needs" can claim "caregiver allowance" from the

Javed Abidi, convener, National Centre for Promotion of Employment of
Disabled People (NCPEDP), welcomed the plan for a policy for
caregivers. "It is a sensible idea. There are no trained caregivers in
this country and in their absence it is the family that takes over.
The significant majority of those carers are women - mothers and

But the government, he added, should first have "trained caregivers"
if it wanted to give a break to those who have been caring for their
disabled family members, especially their offspring.

NCW sources said the commission decided to do something after
receiving complaints from women, the primary caregivers for their
children, who spoke of abuse.

An official recalled the case of a woman from Hyderabad who had come
to the commission with her severely disabled son complaining that she
was sexually harassed at her workplace.

"The woman who earns Rs 7,000 a month locks up her child at home while
she is at work. This is real adversity and we felt we should do
something," the official said.

"Women as caregivers should be recognised and we are looking at how we
can make them self-sufficient so they can work from home and take care
of their children as well. We are not thinking of paying them, but
'skilling' them. This skill should enable them to access alternative
job markets," the official added, pointing out that the proposed
policy could also include women with disabilities.

Caring for the carer has been the centre of worldwide debates. In the
UK, where the movement for the rights of caregivers is half a century
old, the government finally recognised the role of unpaid caregivers
with the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act, 1995. It culminated in
the drafting of the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act, 2004, which came
into effect in 2005.

In Australia, America and Italy, carers are eligible for government
benefits, which include provisions for giving the caregiver a break.

In India, there are no official statistics on the number of unpaid
family caregivers. But a survey by Childline - a non-profit
organisation - estimates that 1.67 per cent of those in the 0-19 age
group live with a disability and that children account for 35 per cent
of the country's disabled population.

This could mean at least six million parents and/or families who have
to take care of children with disabilities, according to Childline.

"Care-giving has never been part of the discourse in India. But this
is a good beginning," said Abidi. "I just hope the proposal moves
beyond just women caregivers to trained carers, then incentives and
maybe even a pension for them."

Avinash Shahi
Doctoral student at Centre for Law and Governance JNU

More information about the AccessIndia mailing list