Senior citizens want election manifestoes to reflect their concerns

60-plus population is 149 million, around 10.5% of the total population: They can be a powerful vote bank

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | March 29, 2024 | Mumbai


#Senior Citizens   #Elections   #Economy   #Policy   #Society  
(Photo: Governance Now)
(Photo: Governance Now)

Election manifestoes of all political parties and their policies must prominently include issues and problems faced by senior citizens, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Senior Citizens Organisations Mumbai, has demanded.

“With the number of 60-plus population increasing to 149 million in 2022, comprising around 10.5% of the country’s population, senior citizens are a powerful vote bank. By 2050 this population will double to 20.8% with the absolute number at 347 million. They are important stakeholders with an estimated 25% voting potential of the total voting population. If the political parties and leaders fail to consider the needs and demands of this ever growing group they will feel compelled to use NOTA in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections,” it said in a statement.

Their charter of demands includes:

*Full implementation of ‘National Policy on Senior Citizens’ 2018. The policy envisages State support to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter and other needs of older persons, equitable share in development, protection against abuse and exploitation and availability of services to improve the quality of their lives.

*Full implementation of Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana (AVYAY) by the end of 2026, with a monitoring panel consisting of representatives of JAC, social organisations and experts from the field of gerontology and geriatrics. It calls for periodic reviews to map the accomplishments for effective implementation.

*Minimum 10% budgetary allocation of the total budget of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the cause of elderly.

*A National Commission for Senior Citizens and a State Commission funded by the respective states to safeguard the rights and privileges of senior citizens.

* Immediately pass the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill 2019 /Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill 2023 in Parliament. Every state must have an operational mechanism to spread awareness about the act and its flawless implementation.

*Full allocation and utilization of SCWF (senior citizen welfare fund) with monitoring of proceedings by the National Commission.

* Withdrawal of the 18% Goods & Services Tax (GST) levied on elder care accommodation and services. Similarly, GST should be withdrawn on geriatric equipment, adult diapers, and adult vaccinations and also on the health and life insurance premium.

* Restoration of railway concessions with immediate effect. These were revoked during the COVID-19 pandemic but have not been restored.

* Safe public transport: Separate compartments for senior citizens in railways, special facilities for senior citizens in railway stations, airlines and buses, monthly old-age pension/ social security plan guaranteeing minimum Rs 3,000 to senior citizens, inclusion of dental care and disability apparatus like hearing aids in health insurance policies, to bring the adult vaccination under universal immunization plan/scheme, introduce government health insurance for all senior citizens without any age bar, subsidize  premium for health insurance, include all 60plus in ‘Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana’ irrespective of the income eligibility,  have a National Dementia Policy, include BPL Seniors in Poshan 2.0 - Integrated Nutrition Support Program , increase tax exemption to all above the age of 60 years to Rs 5 Lakh.

Further, the senior citizens body calls for full and effective implementation with budgetary provision of schemes, namely, Central Sector Scheme of Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens (IPSrC), Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY), National Helpline for Senior Citizen (14567)- Elderline,  State Action Plan for Senior Citizens (SAPSrC)  and Senior Care Ageing Growth Engine (SAGE).

“We the senior citizens of this country are responsible citizens; we have wisdom, experience and time. We are asset to the society, we are always willing to help government and authorities for welfare of society at large. We need independence, participation, freedom, security and dignity; we can’t be ignored or neglected any more. We hope you will consider our demands make us integral part of governance and inclusive society,” adds the statement.

The demands are based on recommendations of the United Nations to which India is a signatory and the policies for senior citizens to which the central government has committed. The JAC consists of representatives of the various organisations, NGOs working for senior citizens, researchers  and academicians in the field of gerontology.

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