Sit-In to Demand Higher Oldage Pension Called Off

New Delhi
Sit-In to Demand Higher Oldage Pension Called Off

The 25-day sit-in led by social activists Aruna Roy, Baba Adhav and Nikhil Dey ended today as the protestors reiterating their demand to revamp the old-age, widow and disabled pension scheme.

Roy, Magsaysay award winner, expressed disappointment over the central government paying paltry sums to the elderly of the country and demanded the amount be increased to Rs 2000 per month from existing Rs 200.

"The government is not bothered about the poor people of the country. Paying the elderly a pension amount of just Rs 200 per month is like playing with their sentiments. We want to know the pension paid to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission- the trio who have opposed the hike in the pension owing to less money in the state exchequer," Roy said.

The noted activist also called for the scrapping of the APL/BPL (Above/ Below Poverty Line) benchmarks.

"The state should stop the classification of APL and BPL families. The right to free ration and pension should be made universal. Our constitution that claims equal rights for all should be respected by the policy-makers," Aruna said.

The elderly population (60 years and above) of India accounts for 7.4 per cent of the total population, according to the 2011 census. The figures state that 5 per cent of the elderly i.e. Government officials is sanctioned Rs 1,60,000 crores as pension amount annually while giving the rest, 95 per cent of the unorganised sector which is less than a tenth of the amount.

84-year-old Adhav, who has worked with marginalised sections of the society, assured the protesters that their demands will be met sooner or later.

"The biggest strength of the elderly is their number. We will make the authorities realise the power of vote. We form 13 per cent of the voting population. We are sure our number would bring the establishment to us. We are fighters and we will attain our rights sooner or later," the octogenarian said.

Nikhil Dey, member of Pension Parishad, said the end of the dharna should not be taken as a defeat.

"It is not an end, we have resolved to come back. We will take our fight to newer and wider horizons if our basic demands are not met," he said.

Pension Parishad is planning to file RTI applications asking for the income and pension details of the Prime Minister and other state dignitaries to counter their claims of lack of money to carry out the social security schemes, he said.

Representatives from National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW), Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC), National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) and Help Age India were also present to show their solidarity to the cause.

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