Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Elder Abuse Day- Abuse by Governments.

World Elder Abuse Day- Abuse by Governments. M.V.Ruparelia.

!5-6-2010 is the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day declared by UNO. According to the INPEA, Elder Abuse is a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship, where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. It can be of various forms-physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, financial or simply reflect intentional or unintentional neglect. Elder Abuse is a violation of Human Rights and a significant cause of injury, illness, loss of productivity, isolation & despair. Confronting & reducing Elder Abuse requires a multisectoral & multidisciplinary approach.

Our Government had declared a comprehensive National Policy of Older Persons in 1999 with clear directive in each of 98 paras of the Policy that provision made in each para will be done and no where words ``shall or may be done`` were used. Para 93 of the Policy clearly lays down that each Ministry will prepare Action Plan for the Year as well as for Five Year and fix Targets and Time Schedules to take steps to ensure flow of all benefits to older persons. Even Chief Information Commissioner, Delhi vide his orders dt 27-6-08 vide his no. 2701/Senior Citizens/(A)/2008 in Case no. C I C/MA/A/ 2008/00645 to Ministry Of Social Justice & Empowerment has taken note of non-implementation and given clear directive to outline the plan of action in a time bound manner for the larger benefit of older persons. Not implementing this Policy by Central & State Governments and other stake holders even after 11 years is nothing but Deplorable Abuse of Elders in India in light of INPEA`s above definition! UNO has also started taking stock of implementation by various Governments of their directives given in their United Nation International Plan of Action adopted by all Countries in Madrid in 2002.

President of India in her Opening Address to both the Houses of Parliament had promised that

an area of major focus for her Government would be reform of governance for effective delivery of public services. Even after 61 years of Independence, We have not been able to create an Efficient Machinery to deal with implementation of Government Orders; Grievances/Representations of our Citizens. Government has included the Reforming of BABUDOM in their Current Agenda for effective deliverance of Public Service but nothing much is achieved. As per recent Press Reports, PERC (Political Economic Risk Consultancy) has classified our Country as Worst Red Tape Country in Asia.

Ministry of Social Justice entrusted to implement this Policy feels that Policy is for guidance only! All other Ministries believe that they are not concerned with Policy and only Nodal Ministry has to deal with the subject!! Only 6 States & UT’s, out of 35 States and UT’s, have so far accepted [not implemented!] this Policy,99. Remaining 29 States/UTs have not even taken cognizance of it. Even out of the 6 States/UTs, none has really implemented it to any considerable level!!

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 is implemented partially in only three States in three years! Senior Citizens in 32 States and UT’s are still deprived of its benefits.

No State/UT has made any progress for providing Old Age Homes in each District, as mandated in MWPS Act, 2007.

Today the poorest among poor are Senior Citizens. The worst sufferers are the very old that is 65+ belonging to BPL category. 70% of them live in villages and survive by doing physical labour. They are miserable because they are unable to do hard work because of age related disabilities. The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme assured them minimum of Rs 400 per month pension which would have made their last few years little comfortable, but it was not to be. Out of 35 States and UT’s, 24 have not bothered to look at this scheme. Among 11 which claim to have implemented it, it has become an instrument for extending political favour and majority of eligible are excluded. In Andhra Pradesh only Rs 200/- are paid and that too through self appointed community leaders and Panchayats, who pass on only Rs 100/- to Rs 150/-. Our random surveys showed that more than 50% of elders were deprived even of this.

Recently, three budgets were announced, Railway, Central and States but no Minister even mentioned about existence of 9 crore Senior Citizens. None of their demands was conceded though all the demands were simple and were driven only by considerations of social justice.

There is no Health or Social Security in most of the States/UTs. Though we have shown on paper that the cost of covering the 9% Senior Citizens under Health Insurance on the lines of Aarogyasri in AP will be negligible compared to other cost items, yet no action is taken on this proposal.

As on now only 5 out of 35 States & UTs [28 States + 7 UT’s] provide some sort of health cover to BPL category; the APL Senior Citizens are still left high and dry without any health security, whatsoever.

Our repeated demand for 50% concession in railways [for male Senior Citizens] has been ignored every time. Special suburban trains are run for ladies & separate coach is provided for handicaps but nothing is being done to provide separate coach for Senior Citizens. Similarly 50% concession in State Bus services has been turned down by all States except a very few progressive States. Grant of 2% higher interest rates on our savings was not even considered.

The Senior Citizens were ignored not for the first time. It was fourth time in a row. We have been facing this type of neglect not only in Budgets but even in the redressal of our legitimate concerns and the execution of our welfare schemes. Extremely poor response in most of the States to execution of various welfare schemes is an indication of their indifference towards us.

Frustrated Senior Citizens in all over the country have decided to observe 16th August,10 as National Protest Day to highlight their grievances to the Governments, World Organizations, Society & Media and request on this World Elder Abuse Day to stop our Abuse & look towards us as their Elders, who have worked hard to get Freedom, Present Prosperity & Progress.