Senior Citizens and Present Elections in AP
(Dr P Vyasamoorthy with inputs from Sri RN Mital)
Senior citizens constitute more than 8% of Indian population. They also take pains to vote, unlike younger adults who are indifferent to their rights and responsibilities. They are one of worst neglected sections of our society. The problems faced by them like: Neglect, abuse, absence or reduction of financial resources, increased requirements of healthcare, absence of health insurance are not getting addressed. Groups like politicians, governmental agencies, NGOs, Children, Religious institutions and others only pay lip service to Elders issues and nothing concrete is happening. It is time that senior citizens unite together and press their demands. Politicians or the government will sit up and listen only when the numbers unite and become a formidable force.
During the last few months Andhra Pradesh Senior Citizens Confederation (APSCCON) submitted to the Government four simple demands and met in this connection in a delegation, the Chief Minister twice, the concerned Ministers number of times and the related Bureaucrats umpteen number of times. The demands were very simple and would not have caused any heavy burden on the exchequer and were guided only by considerations of social justice, in spite of that we were ignored and only false promises were made. The demands were:
· All 65+ BPL Senior Citizens should be paid Old Age Pension through Post Offices or Banks Rs 400 per month pension as provided by the Government of India under IGNOAP Scheme.
· All APL families with their Senior Citizen members should be covered under Arogya Sri Health Insurance, if necessary on premium sharing basis.
· Eligible inmates of Old Age Homes should be covered under Arogya Sri Health Insurance & IGNOA Pension scheme. They should also be enrolled as voters on the spot in their Old Age Homes.
· Senior Citizens should be given 50% Concession in bus fares.
When nothing happened we started a Post Card campaign and around 10,000 cards were sent to the office of our Chief Minister from all over AP. Even this effort to draw their attention to our simple demands failed.
Therefore we finally decided to meet different political parties with a request to include our demands in their manifesto. Following parties were met, their reactions are mentioned against each
· Congress party – they expressed in ability to consider our request as their manifesto is prepared in Delhi.
· Praja Rajyam – contacted Mr Parkala who gave patient hearing and promised to do the needful.
· BJP – Met their State President, Mr. Dattatreya. His reaction was lukewarm. We met him along with a senior BJP functionary Mr. P.Narasimha Rao
· Loksatta – met Mr. Jayaprakashnarayan. He was very receptive, promised even more than what we asked. He has written also to APSCCON in this regard.
· Telugu Desam – met Mr. Vijay Rama Rao, ex Minister. He was very receptive, discussed in detail our demands and assured full support.