Are the weakest being ignored?

The pension currently being given to the elderly, widows and differently abled is not enough. It needs to be enhanced.

Yogesh Kumar Singh | May 31, 2016


#Pension   #elderly   #widows   #differently abled  

 Mahatma Gandhi once said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) of the ministry of rural development assists the weakest citizens of our country like the aged, widowed and differently abled persons living below poverty line (BPL) by providing assistance in form of pension.

NSAP which was launched in 1995, now covers the elderly, widows, and differently abled under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS), and Indira Gandhi National Disabled Pension Scheme (IGNDPS). Assistance of Rs.200 is provided as a monthly pension to BPL persons aged 60 upto 79 years under IGNOAPS.  Rs. 300 is given as monthly pension for widows aged 40 upto 79 years under IGNWPS and disabled people aged 18 to 79 years under IGNDPS. If the persons receiving assistance under these three components are of 80 years, they start to get an assistance with Rs. 500 per month as pension.
 
There are also two other provisions under  NSAP-(i) National Family Benefit Scheme under which the BPL family is provided with Rs. 20,000 on the death of primary bread winner and (ii) Annapurna for those senior citizens who are not covered under IGNOAPS, 10 kg food grains (wheat or rice) is provided.
 
Does the monthly pension of Rs. 200 for the old persons and Rs. 300 for widows and differently abled seem a justifiable amount to sustain a dignified life? The answer is obviously ‘no’. So what should the government do?
 
The Tendulkar Committee Report on Poverty Estimates, which was castigated largely in the country, worked out the poverty line to monthly per capita consumption expenditure of Rs.972 in rural areas and Rs.1,407 in urban areas in 2011-12. If we consider the estimates of the report correct, then at least Rs.1,000 must be provided as assistance under IGNOAPS, IGNWPS and IGNWPS. For Annapurna, a few kgs of pulses may be added which may lead to a healthier life of the people of our country.
 
The government has dealt with the issue of One Rank One Pension very effectively and there is no doubt there was an extreme pressure on government due to protest of former and present army personnel. In case of assistance provided to the elderly, widowed and differently abled, it is the responsibility of the government to take an affirmative action on its own because the weakest also have right to lead a dignified life.
 

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