Disabled Persons in India: A statistical profile 2016


This report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation contains a ‘situational analysis’ of disabled persons in India based mainly on the results of  Census 2011. The report discusses data on the number of ‘disabled persons’, and their education, employment and marital status. It looks at the status of disabled persons at the national level and also provides state/union territory-wise comparisons. However, it does not provide detailed data on the living conditions of disabled persons in the absence of any recent nationwide sample survey on this subject.

The introduction says that since India is a signatory to several international conventions calling for an inclusive and barrier-free society for persons with disabilities, a “sound database of disabled persons” is necessary in order to realise these commitments. The report also presents a summary of programmes and policies for the welfare of disabled persons.


  1. How is disability defined internationally and in India?

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), disability is an umbrella term that covers impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. In India, Section 2(i) of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, defines disability as blindness, low vision, loss of sensation or a deformity in a leprosy-cured person, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. 

    Persons with disabilities are individuals suffering from not less than 40 per cent of any disability as certified by medical authorities. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued detailed guidelines for the assessment and certification of various disabilities. 

  2. What data did Census 2011 collect on disability?

    In Census 2011, information on eight types of disabilities was collected – related to seeing, hearing, speech, movement, mental retardation, mental illness, multiple disabilities (up to three) and disabilities of any other kind. This information was collected through the ‘Household Schedule’ during the Population Enumeration phase. 

  3. What does the report say about education among disabled persons?

    Nearly 55 per cent of all disabled persons are literate. Around 67 per cent of all disabled persons in urban areas are literate compared to 49 per cent in rural areas. 13 per cent of the disabled population has completed matriculation/secondary education and 5 per cent has completed a bachelor’s or higher degree. 

    61 per cent of disabled children in the 5-19 age group attend an educational institution. 54 per cent of all children with multiple disabilities and 50 per cent of all children with mental illness have never attended an educational institution. 

  4. What does the report say about employment for disabled persons?

    At the all-India level, 36 per cent of all disabled persons work – 47 per cent among male disabled persons and 23 per cent among female disabled persons. Among disabled ‘non-workers’, about 46 per cent are in the 15-59 age group, 31 per cent in the 0-14 age group and 23 per cent are above 60.

  5. What is the data at the  states/union-territories level?

    Among the states/UTs, Sikkim has the highest prevalence of disability (2.98 per cent of the total population), while Daman & Diu has the lowest (0.9 per cent of the total population). Nearly 50 per cent of all disabled persons belong to one of these five states: Uttar Pradesh (15.5 per cent of the total disabled population), Maharashtra (11.05 per cent), Bihar (8.69 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (8.45 per cent), and West Bengal (7.52 per cent).

    Among the states, Bihar’s share of disabled children under 6 (12.48 per cent of its total disabled population) is the highest, followed by Meghalaya (11.41 per cent). The lowest is in in Kerala – 3.44 per cent. Four states together account for more than 50 per cent of the country’s under-6 disabled children: Uttar Pradesh (20.31 per cent), Bihar (14.24 per cent), Maharashtra (10.64 per cent) and West Bengal (6.48 per cent). 

  6. What efforts have been made for the welfare of disabled persons?

    Efforts for the welfare of disabled persons include legislations (the Persons with Disabilities [Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation] Act, 1995), the National Policy Statement 2006 (for the prevention of disabilities and rehabilitation measures for disabled persons), setting up of statutory bodies (National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation), and initiating programmes (Accessible India Campaign) and schemes through the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).

    Focus and Factoids by Ajay Srinivasmurthy.


Social Statistics Division, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation


Government of India, New Delhi 


01 Jan, 2017