pension: Indian elderly wait for monthly pension to rise from Rs 300

India’s elderly population has been waiting for more than 10 years to witness an increase in their pensions of Rs 300. According to news agency PTI, the last increase was in 2012 when pensions from the Indira National Old Age Pension Scheme Gandhi, Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme have been increased from Rs 200 to Rs 300/month.

Ten years later, the wait for another hike continues.

The government operates its various pension schemes under the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP) for people living below the poverty line (

) households.

For the many beneficiaries, any increase, even insufficient in view of the price increase, is welcome.

Like Hiri Devi, 65, who has been bedridden with paralysis for 10 years and receives 300 rupees a month under the disability pension scheme.

“My husband, who is over 70, started working as a day laborer due to the recent inflation. We don’t even get rations for five days with this money,” said Hiri Devi, who lives in the settlement of Jahangirpuri in Delhi. PTI.

Until a few months ago, Hiri Devi received extra help in the form of adult nappies and extra rations from NGOs, but that stopped as the pandemic situation improved.

There is no immediate relief in sight.

There is no proposal to change the amount of pension provided under the National Social Assistance Scheme, the Ministry of Rural Development, the nodal ministry for the schemes, said in response to a recent RTI query. filed by activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur, based in Madhya Pradesh.

The stories of distress are numerous.

Lala Ram, 72, is also paralyzed and cannot speak clearly. His daughter-in-law Ganga verbalized the family’s story of distress.

“We have a total family income of Rs 2,000 including pension. Supporting a family of six is ​​very difficult. Also the income is not stable…” said Ganga, who lives in the locality of Mayur Vihar in Delhi.

Some people receive pensions from more than one source.

A 76-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, said she lost her husband to cancer in 2015 and was dependent on the Rs 300 each she received from Indira Gandhi’s widow’s pension scheme and the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension. Scheme.

The woman, who lives in Ranchi with her unemployed son, also receives money from the Jharkhand government. But the total of Rs 2,500 is largely insufficient.

“Inflation is so high that it doesn’t cover our food needs for 10 days. I can’t even buy medicine,” she told PTI by phone.

Although India is not a welfare state in the conventional sense of the word and pensions by themselves are never enough, the fact that the amount of several central government schemes are in the hundreds and that government schemes thousands of states must change, experts say. .

“States have their own schemes and Delhi and Andhra Pradesh are the biggest contributors of pensions…There are States which only contribute what the Center gives. The amount must be at least Rs 5,000 per month,” said the National Platform for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. NPRD General Secretary Muralidharan told PTI.

Nowhere in the country does financial aid exceed Rs 3,500, even when Center and State amounts are combined, he explained.

According to data shared in the ITR, 2.9 million beneficiaries are covered by all NSAP pension schemes.

Anupama Datta, Head of Policy Research and Advocacy at HelpAge India, agrees with Muralidharan on the minimum amount of Rs 5,000. per month for the elderly poor.

About 90% of older people have to work to survive. Due to the pandemic, older people and their families have lost their jobs and incomes, mainly from the unorganized sector, which has not yet recovered from the pandemic, she said.

“Government should revise the central contribution to the States by a meager Rs.200 (unchanged for 14 years for those under 80) and Rs. 500 for those over 80 under the Indira National Old Age Pension Scheme Gandhi at least Rs.1,000 and Rs 1,500 per month,” Datta said.

The states supplement the meager central allocation separately. Bihar only gives 400-500 rupees to its elderly (60-80+), with universal coverage, which by any metric is insufficient for survival. Chhattisgarh gives Rs.550-850. A large state like Uttar Pradesh, which also has the highest elderly population in India, also grants Rs 700 (for those over 60) and Rs 1,000 (for those over 80), she said.

The solution, according to Datta, is for the central government and the state governments to set up a committee to jointly decide on the pension fund for the elderly. The Ministry of Rural Development’s own data through the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census indicates that 50% of the elderly are poor.

According to the 2011 census, India has 104 million elderly people (over 60), or 8.6% of the total population.

Himanshu Rath, Founder and Chairman of the Agewell Foundation, pointed out that the pension is too low and not regular.

The process of obtaining a pension is also difficult with many bureaucratic hurdles.

“There is no responsibility that any government authority is willing to take on,” Rath said.

Depending on government rules, the identification of a beneficiary could be based on a request from the applicant or the gram panchayat/gram sabha. In any case, the application form must be submitted to the offices at the level of sub-districts – blocks in rural areas and in municipalities in the case of urban centers.

There are different levels of verification before a new case is accepted for pension. In addition, regular periodic checks are carried out to identify deaths, migrated and transferred cases.

Once a request is verified and sanctioned by the sanctioning authority, a sanction order number is assigned. The funds are transferred electronically to the bank accounts of the respective retirees using NEFT/RTGS and based on Aadhaar.

A nationwide survey conducted by the Agewell Foundation in July found that four out of five older people are suffering due to rising inflation. The survey, of 10,000 aged respondents from different socio-economic groups in 24 states/UTs of India, showed that lower middle income groups are most affected – 94% of aged respondents in this category said that rising inflation had affected them.

(With PTI entries)

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