Following the ECI standards, creating a course for disability inclusion in politics

The Indian Election Commission released recommendations directing political parties on how to use disability-sensitive language and procedures. These principles address inclusive communication, accessible information, and the inclusion of persons with disabilities (PwDs) inside party structures. The goal is to challenge disrespectful statements and prejudices about people with disabilities in politics. Concerns have been raised concerning the usefulness of these recommendations, necessitating additional revision and inclusion in the Model Code of Conduct.

Highlights include:

  • The principles cover disability-inclusive communication, information accessibility, and inclusion within the frameworks of political parties.
  • Recent disparaging statements by political figures highlight the need of these principles.
  • According to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016, derogatory language leads to attitudinal obstacles.
  • The recommendations are advisory, lack consistency, and require a more explicit requirement.
  • The Model Code of Conduct’s absence of certain principles limits their enforcement.
  • To avoid misinterpretation, ambiguities in language use and terminology must be clarified.
  • Political inclusion of people with disabilities is not addressed in the proposed National Policy for People with Disabilities.
  • Political inclusion is hampered by a lack of statistics on lawmakers with impairments and the absence of a disability category on election forms.

Key Terms:

  • Disability-sensitive language
  • Inclusive communication
  • Attitudinal barriers
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
  • Model Code of Conduct
  • Derogatory remarks
  • National Policy for Persons with Disabilities
  • Political inclusion

Key Phrases:

  • “Advisory guidelines”
  • “Attitudinal barrier”
  • “Model Code of Conduct”
  • “Political inclusion”
  • “Derogatory remarks”
  • “Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016”
  • “National Policy for Persons with Disabilities”

Highlighted Quotes: 

  • “These guidelines are only a ‘advisory,’ though the phraseology of a few guidelines is in mandatory language.”
  • “Instances have underlined the need for these guidelines, such as derogatory remarks by political leaders.”
  • “Political inclusion is an ignored aspect within the Indian realm of disability.”

Key Statements:

  • “A uniform mandate under all three heads is needed for effective implementation.”
  • “Guidelines must be included within the Model Code of Conduct to enhance their enforceability.”
  • “The lack of data has contributed significantly to the political exclusion of PwDs.”

Examples and resources:

  • In September 2023, A Raja makes a harsh analogy of Sanatan Dharma to persons with leprosy and HIV.
  • There is no disability column on nomination papers or affidavits submitted by candidates during elections.

Important information:

  • The rules encompass disability-inclusive communication, information accessibility, and party framework inclusion.
  • Section 92 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 is stated as a disciplinary penalty for failing to follow disability-inclusive communication rules.

Critical Analysis:

The essay evaluates the advisory recommendations objectively, identifying their merits, flaws, and potential for development. It emphasises the need for a more rigorous and enforceable structure within the Model Code of Conduct, as well as addressing linguistic ambiguities.

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