A theme common across the readings is the issue of using neoliberal frameworks in development agendas. Su-ming Khoo writes, “we should not underestimate the problems accompanying the key assumption that the chosen means of economic growth and market liberalisation will lead to the ends of human development, especially from a rights perspective,” going on to discuss how market oriented policies are questionable in fulfilling rights-centered goals (Khoo 48). This criticism of neoliberalism and its failure to achieve rights-based goals, another criticism of global strategic frameworks, specifically the MDGs, is that agendas should move from being needs-based to being rights-based (Kett et al. 658). When moving to a rights-based agenda, it is essential that first, disability be regarded as a human rights issue, as this recognition has been long-neglected (Lord 312). Kett et al. build on this by stating that disability has for too long been a secondary issue in the international development field (Kett et al. 656). I find the exclusion of persons with disabilities from international development research and global strategic frameworks contradictory because this field intends to improve the lives of the most marginalized, yet it excludes one of the most marginalized groups, persons with disabilities, who experience compounding oppressions.
I am interested to see how, moving forward, global strategic frameworks become more inclusive for persons with disabilities because entire frameworks cannot be replaced easily. Nayyar writes that while changing paradigms is ambitious, “it may be feasible to think about elements of a new framework that might replace the MDGs after 2015 (Nayyar 11). Nayyar goes on to claim that the “new MDG framework” must focus on means in addition to heavily focusing on ends, prioritizing process (Nayyar 13). As Nayyar’s piece was written in 2013, I question why some of Nayyar’s suggestions for the “new MDG framework” were not incorporated into the SDGs that were adopted in 2015. For example, Nayyar suggests that “in redesigning strategies, it is necessary to introduce correctives and interventions that prevent or minimize the exclusion of people from development” because “the object of correctives should be to foster inclusion” (Nayyar 15). This capstone course focuses on the exclusion of persons with disabilities from the SDGs. Perhaps if Nayyar’s suggestions about inclusion were more explicitly incorporated into the SDGs, our findings about exclusion in the SDGs would be less disappointing/disheartening. However, I want to make clear that I am not in a position to criticize the UN as if I am an expert in inclusion and development, but I do feel it is important to offer criticism, particularly when a group who is perceived as powerless and thus, given no power in decision making, is left out of frameworks that could substantially benefit them.
My capstone briefly addresses one of the issues of global strategic frameworks, the cyclical relationship between disability and poverty. Kett et al. describe this close link between disability and poverty, referring to it as a “negative cycle” (Kett et al. 650). Many global strategic frameworks address poverty, yet Khoo writes that there is a possibility that “prescribed means may actually cause poor countries to travel in the wrong direction, resulting in increased poverty and deprivation (Khoo 49). In sum, while poverty and disability are linked, poverty might be reinforced and magnified through global strategic frameworks. Thus, if persons with disabilities are included in these frameworks, will their situations of poverty worsen? This is something I would like to look into more. My project includes discussion of a disability-focused health insurance scheme sponsored by the Government of India, known as the Swavlamban Health Insurance Scheme. An article about this scheme discusses the compounding issue of poverty and disability, noting how exorbitant healthcare expenses can keep persons with disabilities in generational poverty (James et al. 369-370). I found this fascinating and abhorrent at the same time, and would like to conduct further research on poverty, disability, and health. I would have loved to address this in my capstone project, but as I am keeping a tight focus, I could not do this to the desired extent.
James, Joseph Wilson, Chethan Basavarajappa, Thanapal Sivakumar, Ruma Banerjee, and Jagadisha Thirthalli. 2019. “Swavlamban Health Insurance scheme for persons with disabilities: An experiential account.” Indian journal of psychiatry 61 (4): 369-375. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_77_19.