Just Rs 7,200 a year restores their dignity
Many well-off people cut wasteful expenditure to adopt elderly destitutes, reports Ripu Daman Singh.india Updated: Jun 30, 2007 02:31 IST
They maybe too old to be called orphans, but they are still put up for adoption. Parents who have been abandoned by their children who have no means to fulfil their basic needs are now increasingly being adopted by the relatively well off or middle-class people in the country. The reason? Besides the humungous percentage of senior citizens living alone without being taken care of, it is estimated that there are close to 52 million elderly living below the poverty line in our country.
Gajanand Palriwala, an octogenarian, has adopted 35 grandparents in the last four years. “I feel very sorry for the elderly people in our country. If my contribution helps them meet their needs in any way, nothing like it,” he says. Apart from giving them financial aid, Palriwala also makes sure that he visits them annually.
What’s surprising is that there are many such senior citizens helping the not-so-fortunate ones. “Though most of our sponsors are middle-aged, about 20 per cent of them fall in the 60 plus age bracket,” says Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India, who is helping 24,000 destitute elders through their ‘Sponsor-a-grandparent’ scheme. Besides the dry ration, clothes and items of personal hygiene, Cherian says, the elderly are also a given a monthly pocket money of Rs 50 each.
To help a grandparent live with dignity, all one needs to do is shell out Rs 7,200 per annum. So many. with increasing disposable incomes, are pitching in for this benevolent cause. “We waste so much money on silly things. Just by sparing a few extra, one can let a senior citizen live a decent life,” says Darshan Pal Singh, 33, a general manager, who has adopted an 80-year-old woman residing in West Bengal. If possible, Singh adds, he would like to offer emotional comfort as well to these left alone parents.
Most grandparents, however, are oblivious of their sponsors. Ask Om Prakash Kumar, a 70-year-old beneficiary, who has never met his sponsor but says a short prayer for him before sleeping: “He must be a great man with a more than a generous heart,” says Kumar.
There are also those who have turned their misfortune into success stories. Some older people have been enterprising with their sponsorship that today they are adopting a few like them. “I know an aged woman who was part of the scheme, but after having started a small income and generating an enterprise of her own, she passed on her entitlement to another grandparent whose need was dire,” says Rakesh Aggarwal, a septuagenarian, who also encourages his son to contribute to such a cause.
Although people are waking up to the needs of the elderly, there is a still a long way to go before their basic needs of survival are met.