In the year 1985-86, the erstwhile Ministry of Welfare was divided into the Department of Women and Child Development and the Department of Welfare. Consequently, the Scheduled Castes Development Division, Tribal Development Division and the Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Division were moved from the Ministry of Home Affairs and also the Wakf Division from the Ministry of Law to form the then Ministry of Welfare as the result, the name of the Ministry was changed to the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in May 1998. As add-on in October 1999, the Tribal Development Division had moved out to form a separate Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
In January 2007, the Minorities Division jointly with Wakf Unit have been moved out of the Ministry and formed as a separate Ministry and the Child Development Division has gone to the Ministry of Women & Child Development. Though the matters of “Disability” figure in the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
The Indian Government has always been proactive in the disability sector. It is not only managing seven National Institutes (NIs) dealing with various types of disabilities and seven Composite Regional Centers (CRCs), which grant rehabilitation services to PwDs and run courses for rehabilitation professional but also funds a large number of NGOs for similar services and also a National Handicapped Finance & Development Corporation (NHFDC) which provides loans at concession rates of interest to PwDs for self-employment.
Besides, the Union Government is a party to
- Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asian and the Pacific Region – adopted at Beijing in December 1992, and
- The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which came into existence in May 2008.
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is entrusted with the welfare, social justice and empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalized people of the society viz. Scheduled Caste, Backward Classes, Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens, and Victims of Drug Abuse etc. Major Goals of the policies, programmes, law, and institution of the Indian welfare system is to bring the target groups into the mainstream of development by making them self-reliant.
The Ministry is lead by Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Cabinet Minister and ably assisted by three Ministers-of-State namely Shri Vijay Sampla, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, and Shri Ramdas Athawale. There are two departments viz. Department of Social Justice and Empowerment and Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Smt. Nilam Sawhney (IAS, AP:1984) is the Secretary of Department of Social Justice & Empowerment. Ms. Shakuntala D. Gamlin(IAS, AGMUT:1984) is the Secretary of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.