Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ageing Parliamentarians are apathetic towards Senior Citizens

Senior Citizens in India have been consistently getting neglected by Central and State Governments for a number of decades. To cite just a few issues of neglect:

63 years have passed and we still do not have social or health security

· 11 years have passed and National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) has not been implemented by a single State
· 3 years have passed since enacting the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (MWPSC Act). This has become somewhat operational only in 8 out of 35 States/UT's; Four states have not even notified it!
· More than 50% BPL Senior Citizens[65+] either do not get any Old Age Pension or are paid much less than the stipulated minimum

Senior Citizens Associations, State and National level Federations and Confederations have been tirelessly taking it up with those occupying seats of power, but with no success.

Look at our parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha has 543 members out of whom nearly 50% are above 60 – senior citizens by them selves. Similar is the case in Rajya Sabha. We have 243 members where a whopping 183 (75%) are senior citizens. However these elitist politicians show lip sympathy when approached and do nothing to help senior citizens cause. I sent an email appeal to all parliamentarians above 60 years old seeking their support. But nearly fifty percent of emails bounced indicating that they never open their mail and allow it to overflow the space allotted. Only one (Sri MS Swaminathan) was kind enough to respond assuring us his support. Another disturbing statistic: all the 780 members put together have asked about 30 questions concerning senior citizens welfare in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the last one year.

Spare our politicians. Take up the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. From the Annual report 2009-10, the total annual budget allotment for MOSJE is Rs 2500 Crores. Out of this budget for disabled & Senior Citizens is 9.3%, that is Rs 232.5 Crores. Expenditure for Senior Citizens amounts to 27 crores Out of these 27 crores, Rural Development ministry has chipped in about 10.6 crores for old age pension. Amount spent for Senior Citizens works out to less than 10% of money spent on Disabled welfare and about 1% of total Ministry's budget.

Now consider segment of the population MOSJE serves: Population: Senior Citizens 60+ --> 7.7 crores out of total 102.9 crores; Disabled --> 2.19 cr out of total India's population of 102.9 cr. Work out for yourself the gross disparity in budget allotment.

How long should senior citizens keep quite and meekly witness the negligence and indifference? You be the judge. If you agree, join the silent protest on Senior Citizens National Protest Day on 16th August 2010 in your own city, district. For details see: http://scnpd.posterous.com/