Monday, August 6, 2012

Senior Citizens and the Government

Here comes an extremely well written article on the positive role
played by the central government as far as senior citizens are
concerned. The last para is for us - senior citizens! A few items that
may be added as a supplement are Tax Concessions, Railway fare
concessions, Old Age Pension for the poor, etc.This is written by our
seasoned writer Sri MV Ruparelia. Read on .... P Vyasamoorthy


Senior Citizens and the Government


It is a general impression that the Government has not done much for
Senior Citizens. This is not correct. Government has done a lot and
lot is yet to be done. In brief, Government has done the following,
which covers almost all aspects of life of Senior Citizens:-
1. National Policy on Older Persons, 1999 covers all aspects required
to be taken into account for welfare of Older Persons. It is really a
very comprehensive document leaving not a single matter. It is worth
studying Document by all Active Senior Citizens. It covers all the
following aspects in detail in favour of Older Persons:-
i) Financial Security.
ii) Health Care & Nutrition.
iii) Shelter.
iv) Education.
v) Welfare.
vi) Protection of Life & Property.
The Policy declares the Older Persons as respected Citizens requiring
strengthening of their legitimate place in the Society and to take all
actions to help them to live their last phase of life with Purpose,
Dignity and Peace. It recognizes the Older Persons as a Resource of
the Country. It seeks the cooperation of all government &
non-governmental Organizations including the most powerful Media-our
Fourth Estate. Health Care is given higher priority. Public Hospitals
are asked to provide separate doctors/counters for Senior Citizens to
avoid long waits. Group Housing for Senior Citizens, keeping in view
their life styles & common facilities necessary, loans at reasonable
rates etc are provided. Provision of welfare services including Old
Age Homes on priority basis are laid down. Protection of life &
property is also given priority. It encourages the children to
co-reside with parents by promising to give various incentives to such
children. It recognizes the NGOs as a very special & important
Institutional Mechanism to provide User-friendly affordable Services
to Senior Citizens. Trade Unions, Employers` Organizations &
Professional bodies are also requested to provide Services to Senior
Citizens. Media is expected to highlight the changing situation of
Senior Citizens and identify emerging issues and areas of action. All
Stake Holders are goaded to implement all provisions of the Policy by
preparing Five Year & Annual Action Plans. An autonomous registered
National Association (NAOP) will be established at
Centre/State/district level with financial assistance for recurring &
non-recurring administrative expenses for 15 years for associations up
to State/UT level. These Associations will mobilize senior citizens,
particulate their interests, promote & undertake programmes and
activities for their wellbeing and to advise the Government on all
matters relating to senior citizens. There will be continous dialogue
& communication with NGOs on ageing issues. National Policy will be
very widely disseminated, so that its features remain in constant
public focus.
In view of the changing needs of Senior Citizens over the past
decade, Government decided to review this Policy and got it reviewed
by a Review Committee, which has submitted Revised National Policy for
Senior Citizens,2011 (NPSC, 2011) to the Minister of Social Justice &
Empowerment on 30-3-11 and is lying with the Ministry since then.
Revised Policy envisages creation of separate Department of Senior
Citizens and National Commission for Senior Citizens at Centre &
State/UT level.
2. Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (Act
56) has been passed by Parliament and has been made law. It has far
reaching effects on Senior Citizens of India. This Act includes the
following aspects:-
a) Senior Citizens can claim maintenance from children/grand children.
b) Tribunal shall decide such claims expeditiously. c) Property of
Senior Citizens shall be protected from forcible transfer. d) A
Geriatric Ward shall be provided in every District Level Hospital. e)
An Age Old Home shall be available in each District. f) Abandoning a
Senior Citizen shall be punishable with imprisonment of 3 months or
fine up to Rs 5000 or both. g) Police will be vigilant & helpful to
protect Elders, visit regularly, those staying alone, keep a list of
all Senior Citizens in their area and provide Help Lines etc. h) State
and District Councils will be formed to advise on effective
implementation of the provisions of this Act. i) Wide publicity will
be given for all Central/State Programmes for welfare of Senior
3. An Integrated Programme for Older Persons (Plan Scheme) – This
Scheme has been formulated by revising the earlier scheme of
"Assistance to Voluntary Organizations for Programmes relating to the
Welfare of the Aged". Under this Scheme with effect from 1-4-2008,
financial assistance up to 90% of the project cost is provided to
NGOs, Panchayati Raj Institutions/local bodies for establishing and
maintaining Programmes catering to basic needs of Older Persons
particularly food, shelter & health care; Programmes to build &
strengthen inter generational relationships between children, youth &
elders; Programmes for encouraging Active & Productive Ageing;
Programmes for providing Institutional as well as Non-institutional
Care/Services to Elders; Research, Advocacy & Awareness building
Programmes in the fields of Ageing and Any other Programmes in the
BEST INTEREST of Older Persons. 16 schemes like Day Care Centres,
Physiotherapy Centres, Formation of Senior Citizens Associations,
Awareness Projects, Training of Care Givers, Maintenance of Old Age
Homes, Sensitization of School/College Students, Mental Health,
Disability, Hearing Aid, Dementia, Multi Service, Respite Care, Mobile
Medi-Care Units etc are covered under this Programme. Schools,
Colleges, Educational Institutes & Recognized Youth Organizations
starting such Programmes for Older Persons shall be given 100% cost of
such Projects. Ongoing Projects under pre-revised scheme shall
continue to get grant-in-aid for establishing & maintaining Old Age
Homes, Day Care Centres, Mobile Medicare Units etc..
4. Reverse Mortgage Scheme: Finance Minister had announced the
introduction of this novel Loan Facility called ``Reverse Mortgage
Loan`` (RML) in his Budget Speech of 2007. Under this Scheme, any
Senior Citizen of 60 years and above, resident of India, having a
self-acquired and self-occupied Residential Premises having residual
life of at least 20 years and without any encumbrances and in which he
is staying at present for one year or more can mortgage the premises
to any Primary Lending Institutes (PLI) of his choice. Married couple
will be eligible as joint borrowers. In such cases, only one of the
borrowers need be 60 and above and another 55 and above. One great
advantage for borrowers is that there is no service of loan during
their life time/tenor i.e. no pay-backs. The amount of Loan by P.L.I.
shall depend upon realizable market value of residential premises
assessed by P.L.I., age of borrowers and prevalent rate of interest.
According to guide lines of N.H.B., the loan amount along with
interest on the basis of Reverse Annuity Mortgage that will accrue
till the end of tenor of loan. The loan shall become due and payable
only when the last surviving borrower dies or would like to sell the
premises or permanently moves out of home to stay with some relatives
or some institute of aged care home. If the borrowers do not live in
the premises continuously for one year or more or do not intend to
live there continuously, it shall be treated as moving out
permanently. Settlement of loan along with accumulated interest shall
be met with by proceeds received out of sale of mortgaged property.
The balance surplus, if any, shall be passed on to borrowers or their
heirs/estate. Under this Scheme, monthly payment was limited to 20
5. Under new Reverse Mortgage Loan enabled Annuity (RMLeA), 2009,
Central Bank of India (now, other Banks also) & Star Union Dai-ichi
Life Insurance Co. Ltd. have launched an Annuity Product called Cent
Swabhiman Plus on 10-12-09, a Reverse Mortgage Loan enabled Annuity
(RMLeA) - a unique & tailor-made product facilitating Senior Citizens
to avail regular payments throughout life till both die, as against
10/15/20 years by RML Schemes and that too with substantially higher
payments than earlier Schemes. Rate of interest charged is 9.5 (to be
reset every 2 years) in place of 10 to 12% in RML Schemes. The amount
of loan shall depend on market value of your flat (property), your age
& prevalent rate of interest. Payment will be made by Insurance
Company through Central Bank. Borrowers have to deal with Central Bank
only as One-Point Contact for all matters. Income Tax, as per
borrower's taxable position is payable on annuity payments. Capital
Gain is payable only at the point of alienation of mortgaged property
by the mortgagee for the purpose of recovering loan.
6. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna: Health Insurance cover is provided
under this scheme to BPL workers in unorganized sector and their
families (up to 5 members including dependent parents) to the extent
of Rs.30000 p.a. The beneficiary has to pay only Rs. 30 p.a. as
registration fees. Some States have declared better schemes like Rajiv
Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojna (Maharashtra), Rajiv Aarogyasri
Community Health Insurance Scheme (Andhra Pradesh).
7. Facilities to Pensioners: Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public
Grievances has provided Pensioners` Portal to some Associations of
Pensioners for expeditious settlement of grievances of Pensioners and
paying Rs 75000 p.m. for maintenance of office, portal etc. They have
provided regular negotiating machinery named SCOVA for associations to
discuss various matters pertaining to Pensioners.
8. Health Care: Ministry of Health & F.W. has formed a National
Programme for Care Of Elderly during 11th Five Year Plan, which
comprises- National Programme for Health Care of Elderly (Main Scheme)
and development of National Institutes of Ageing with a total
allocation of Rs 400 crores during Plan Period. Major activities
proposed under the main scheme are as below:
A) Development of 30 bedded health care units for Elderly Persons in
25 Medical Colleges in the Country.
B) Development of 10 bedded Geriatric Units at District Hospitals in
100districts of the Country @ 4 districts attached to each Medical
C) Development of Physiotherapy Unit at all the CHCs falling under 100
D) Weekly once OPD for Elderly and arrangement for Health

Melas at the level of PHCs.
E) Involvement of ASHA at Community Level.
F) As regards the NIAs, these will be the apex referral institutes of
the Country with 200 beds facility. Basic aim of these institutes will
be development of specialized manpower, research in gerontology and
patient care.
G) Health Ministry has started accreditation of Hospitals and Health
Providers to ensure better medical service to Senior Citizens.
9. Corporate Social Responsibility: Ministry of Corporate Affairs has
notified more comprehensive revised Guide Lines for Corporate Social
Responsibility in July, 2011, keeping in view the feedback received on
earlier Guide Lines of 2009. There are many aspects of CSR but we will
see only one aspect of Activities for Social and Inclusive
``Depending upon their core competency and business interest,
companies should undertake activities for economic and social
development of communities and geographical areas, particularly in the
vicinity of their operations. These could include: education, skill
building for livelihood of people, health, cultural and social welfare
etc., particularly targeting at disadvantaged sections of society.``
In 2009, the Government had made it mandatory for all Public Sector
Oil Companies to spend 2% of their net profits on CSR. All Public
Sector Undertakings were required to spend 2 to 5% of their net
profits. For Private Sector, guidelines were laid down that companies
with net profit of less than US$ 22.5 million will earmark 3-5 per
cent of profit for CSR, companies with net profit of between US$ 22.5
million - US$ 112.5 million, will utilize 2-3 per cent for CSR
activities and companies with net profit of over US$ 112.5 million
will spend 0.5-2 per cent of net profits for CSR. These funds can be
requested by our Associations for Welfare of Senior Citizens.
10. Inspite of such marvelous and beneficial Policies, Acts and
Schemes announced by Government, the position of Senior Citizens is
not much improved for two reasons. Nodal Ministry has not been able to
get these implemented by other Ministries, States/UTs/Stake Holders
and has miserably failed in creating awareness about these policies
amongst the beneficiary Senior Citizens. Inspite of clear directives
in the Policy for implementation, Nodal Ministry considered the Policy
as Guidelines and not as requiring total implementation. It did not
make each Stake Holder responsible for implementation by preparing
Five Year & Annual Action Plant, as laid down in the Policy. Instead,
it spoon-feeded all Ministries by calling Inter Ministerial Meetings
for discussions on some topics & not on specific paras of the Policy.
Such meetings were also not held or attended regularly and seriously,
resulting in non-implementation even after 13 years. Nodal Ministry
failed to create Autonomous National Associations at any level,
resulting in non-representation of interest of Elders. Meetings of
National Council with a very few picked up Elders to represent crores
of Elders are not held regularly nor effectively. Complete
indifference of States/UTs was not brought to the notice of higher
authorities for timely action.
11. We are also responsible for non-implementation of all these
Policies, as we do not write, represent, and agitate for their
implementation. We have also failed to implement our part of action
laid down in Policy, 99. Our Associations are expected to organize
various services like Day Care Centres, friendly home visits to older
ailing persons, escorting them to hospitals, shopping complexes &
other places, satisfy the needs of senior citizens for social
interaction, recreation & other activities; organize sensitivity
programmes on ageing issues, help them to overcome loneliness, use our
professional knowledge, expertise and contacts for needy senior
citizens, create awareness about various measures and policies of the
government etc. Let us strive to do our duty also & work for early
implementation of various policies by constant representations,
negotiations and agitation, as necessary.


1 comment:

  1. Very informative post indeed.The granular level of the post is simply remarkable. Keep up your great work Sir.