In a symbolic protest against the meagre pension” given to underprivileged senior citizens, about 130 elderly people, under the banner of a civil society, sent a day’s pension of Rs 7 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Alleging indifference on the part of the Centre towards the elderly, Pension Parishad, at a press conference held here, said the “sarcastic move” was to draw the attention of the government towards the plight of old people and also to press their demand for a respectable hike in pension.
RTI activists Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, and veteran trade unionist Baba Adhav said there were nearly “9 crore elderly people in the country, who do not have access to basic pension or getting very poor amount, by virtue of their old age or economic status.”
“Based on the 2011 census, about 10 crore people across the country are in need of pension and have difficulty accessing it. Out of them, the 9 crore are very poor people, like labourers, rickshaw-pullers, daily wagers, tea stall owners who earn meagre, hence we need to lend dignity to their lives,” Dey said, adding, we have been demanding a pension of “Rs 2000 per month for them.”
In the letter sent to the Prime Minister, “over 125 poor elderly people from more than 10 states” have either signed their names or put thumb impression to register their protest. “They (elderly) have resolved to donate a day’s pension of Rs 7, out of the meagre monthly social security pension scheme of Rs 200, to the PM to protest against the priorities of the Prime Minister and Parliament,” Roy said.
We have been protesting against this for the last 16 Parliament sessions and demonstrated at Jantar Mantar. This fight is not against any regime but for getting a holistic and inclusive policy implemented for such people, he said.
“From 2007, the pension of Rs 200 is being given to them, and over these years, even inflation has not been factored in. It is appalling that such a meagre amount is given to our poor and elderly who were part of the nation-building,” Roy said.
Veteran activist Baba Adhav said “We will now also approach MPs individually and ask them why you don’t want to increase the pension for these elderly people.”