Priya Ramakrishnan & Brinda Majithia / DNATuesday, June 15, 2010
Mumbai: For senior citizens across the country, World Elder Abuse
Awareness Day, observed on Monday, is the start of a new campaign.
Declared by United Nations, the day serves as a reminder to the world
to ensure implementation of various policies by the government to
support the elderly. However, in India, various NGOs and support
groups across the country are using the day to draw attention to the
plight of senior citizens and the apathy of the government in not
implementing various policies effectively.
"Our government had declared a comprehensive National Policy of Older
Persons in 1999 with a clear directive. But, no action has been taken
on the implementation of the policy. Even the chief information
commissioner, Delhi, has taken note of the non-implementation and
given a clear directive to outline the plan of action in a time bound
manner for the larger benefit of older persons.
Not implementing this policy by central and state governments and
other stakeholders even after 11 years is nothing but deplorable abuse
of elders in India," said MV Ruparelia, senior citizen activist.
Another grouse against the state government is the failure to
implement the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens
Act, 2007. It is implemented partially in only three states in the
last three years. However, senior citizens in 32 states are still
deprived of its benefits.
Furthermore, according to Ruparelia, the worst sufferers are the 65+
belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. "Around 70% of them
live in villages and survive by doing physical labour. They are
miserable because they are unable to do hard work due to age related
disabilities. The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme
assured them a pension of a minimum Rs400, which would have made their
last few years a little comfortable. However, out of 35 states in the
country, 24 have not bothered to even look at this scheme," he said.
With the objective of bringing it to the notice of the people and
government, various non-government organisations (NGO) across the
country working in the field are tying up to form an alliance and
observe August 16 as National Protest Day to highlight their
grievances to the governments. Some of the participating NGOs include
All India Senior Citizen Confederation (AISCCON), Nerul, Silver
Lining, Bandra, Maharashtra federation of senior citizens, Harmony,
Dignity Foundation, etc.
"More than 30 NGOs and voluntary organisations are participating in
this," Ruparelia said.