‘43% subsidy burden’ message on railway tickets irks senior citizens
It isn’t strange for train tickets in India to bear call-to-action messages — save water, save the environment, recycle, etc.
But some senior citizens are up in arms over their train tickets carrying a message that asks them whether they are aware that the common man bears the burden of 43% of their fares.
Senior citizens — those over the age of 65 — are eligible for a 43% discount.
Outraged, a group of senior citizens has written to the rail ministry on the “insulting and humiliating” message. In an email to the railway ministry on Tuesday, the Navi Mumbai-based All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation’s (AISCCON) national president DN Chapke said senior citizens feel this way because they have been tax payers too.
AISCCON is the largest organisation of senior citizens involved in networking, advocacy and research with over one million members.
“Are you aware that 43% of your fare is borne by the common man?” reads the message on tickets issued to senior citizens.
“I am a senior citizen . Recently, I purchased a train ticket which had an applicable concession. I noticed [the] remark on [it]…That line hit us. We were tax payers for years,” Chapke wrote in the email.
The Railways’ position seems that this is similar to the drive the government launched to get people who could afford it to give up their cooking gas subsidy — so that it could be directed to the most needy.
Central railways (Pune division) spokesman Manoj Jhawar confirmed the message and said its purpose was to remind passengers that they should not seek subsidy on the travel fare if they can afford it. “We have started with senior citizens and it is for everyone to know that the government is paying for all the facilities people are asking for. It is only to make them realise that it is important to know where the money is coming from and not to seek subsidy on the travel fare. If a traveller or commuter is well off, he can give up the concession,” said Jhawar.
The Railways offers concessions on train tickets to people with disabilities, students, war widows, senior citizens, farmers, artists and sportspersons
In the email, Chapke demanded that the message be withdrawn. He added that senior citizens will not mind if the government withdraws this “[subsidy] gift” provided lawmakers are also informed in writing about the subsidised food they get in Parliament.