Anish Begum, 70, a widow from Bhalaswa struggling to make two ends meet with her meagre pension from the civic body, has to ensure she takes regular medication for diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Most of the time, the councillor’s men tell us that the pension for this month has not arrived. Of the promised Rs. 1,000 per month, my mother gets just about Rs. 8,000-9,000 per year. Running from pillar to post has not helped,” said Nazma Baazi, Anish’s daughter.
Rights activists feel things would be better for such beneficiaries with universal old age pension — not as entitlement but as a right — and would enable the elderly to lead life with dignity.
Anish and others like her can hope for a change. Starting Monday, Pension Parishad, a consortium of NGOs, has planned a five-day agitation at Jantar Mantar, demanding “universal pension rights for the elderly”. It will focus on problems of ageing workers, who will be able to live with dignity if the government accepts the demand for universal pension.
NGO Parivartan’s Ramashray, who goes by a single name, said, “Right from the men from councillor/MLA office, to those at the Social Welfare Department, there is a tendency to extract money from the beneficiaries, as they are illiterate in most of the cases.”
Delhi’s eligible old people get Rs. 1,000 pension from Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Rs. 1,500 from Delhi government. Ranjana Ray, from Dr AV Baliga Memorial Trust, claimed Delhi’s old age pension scene is not satisfactory. “The way it is handled, there are a lot of misdeeds. We feel, there is a need of only one pension to clear off ambiguity.”
Said Aruna Roy, convener of the Pension Parishad, “Aged farm labourers, waste pickers and domestic workers will suffer from the same ailments as that of elderly from middle class face. It is obligation of the state to provide pensions to these people who no longer able to work.”