Senior Citizens Movement in AP comes of Age
Most of us are aware that two state level organisations – FAPSCO and APSCCON – together with Aasara of GHMC and HelpAge Hyderabad have been working for the cause of the elderly population for well over a decade. Several problems plague the older persons – finance, health, shelter, safety, isolation, abuse, neglect, loneliness etc. Both the government at the center and at the state level have been totally insensible and apathetic towards senior citizens and their demands.
For the past three years starting from 2010, All India Senior Citizens Confederation has been mobilizing and trying to unite senior citizens all over India by observing Senior Citizens National Protest Day on August 16th every year. Through out India rallies have been held, demands and memorandums have been submitted, several thousands of post cards of appeal / admonishment have been sent to authorities, advocacy meeting with officers, ministers held, appraisals of the press and media continued; in short, no efforts were spared to make the government machinery sit up and listen. Results have been very marginal, nothing much to boast of or be happy about.
As far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned, the situation is bleak. The government took four years to make Rules under MWPSCA (senior citizens Act). It gives only Rs 200 as Old Age Pension under IGNOAPS though Rs 400 is mandated. GOI gives Rs 500 as OAP for 85+ elders but nothing special in AP. Inmates of Old Age Homes are worst hit – they do not even have Voter ID, ration cards, or healthcare (Aarogyasri Card). APSCCON and FAPSCO have been clamoring for bus fare concession for well over 8 years – nothing has materialized so far. Our demand lists are long and senior are tired of repeating the same pleas year after year. Ignorance and Indifference of powers that be are appalling.
BUT ALL THIS IS SET TO CHANGE.
The senior citizens organizations have come together to fight against the government as one united force. Just the other day, on the last day of Elders Mela in Hyderabad, AP Governor Sri Narasimhan advised Senior Citizens Organisations to come together. Immediately, the binding force has come as God-sent in the form of MRPS leader Sri Manda Krishna Madiga. Sri Krishna has promised to take up the cudgels on our behalf very seriously. He has already held meetings with representatives of APSCCON, FAPSCO, HelpAge etc. He has now started a Pada Yatra to visit rural population, get to know their pulse, their demands and aspirations.
Sri Krishna has tasted success in his fighting for the cause of the disabled. He was instrumental in changing the mindset of erstwhile CM Sri Rajsekar Reddy in implementing the (now praiseworthy flagship Healthcare Insurance system) Aarogyasri. When about 8 lakhs of senior citizens come united as a single vote bank with the support of a politically determined leader like Sri Manda Krishna, results are bound to be positive. Let us hope to see better days for elders soon in AP too.