M.V.Ruparelia, Senior Citizen aged 81, Chief Patron, All India Confederation of Senior Citizens. A503 Rashmi Utsav, Near Jangid Estate & Vijay Park, Mira Road (E). District Thane, Maharashtra. 401 107. M.09821732855. E/Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To Date: 27-5-14.
Shri Narendrabhai Modi, Hon. Prime Minister of India,
South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi-110101.
Sub: Welcome and Request to help 12 crore Elders of the Country.
12 crore Senior Citizens of the Country are very much pleased to welcome a young Senior Citizen of 64 with dynamic, dedicated and determined focus on development and proven ability to deliver results as our highest leader of the Country.
1. Our culture is to treat our Elders as Gods (Matru Devo Bhav etc). A comprehensive National Policy on Older Persons was announced by the Government on 13-2-99 but many important provisions thereof are not yet implemented even after 15 full years, depriving your Elders of these beneficial provisions. A Committee was constituted to review this Policy, 99 on 28-1-10 and recommendations submitted by the Committee on 30-3-11 are not yet finalized even after 3 full years, meanwhile taking no action to implement either Policy, 99 nor as per recommended new policy! This appears mainly due to lack of interest in Elders` welfare by Nodal Ministers and less number of officers and staff in Nodal Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. We request you to strengthen the Ministry and provide dynamic, pro-elderly Ministers and Officers in the Nodal Ministry. We would also request you to provide separate Ministry/Department for 12 crore Elders with separate self contained web site, keeping in view rapidly increasing number of elders. You will be surprised to know that there is no negotiating machinery for 12 crore Elders either at Centre or State/district level, though provided in Policy, 99 and Maintenance Act, 2007. Negotiation & Dissemination of Information to Elders is completely neglected by Nodal Ministry & States. Separate Negotiating Machinery by recognizing existing registered Federations of Senior Citizens like SCOVA formed by Ministry of Pension and separate Web Site for Senior Citizens is what we need immediately.
2. There are 4 Policies notified by Government for welfare of Senior Citizens. Though, as per Allocation of Business Rules (AOB), Ministry of Social Justice is a nodal Ministry for Senior Citizens, overall management and monitoring etc. of the sectoral programmes in respect of Senior Citizens is the responsibility of the concerned Central Ministries, State Governments and Union territory Administrations. All Ministries at Center as well as State/UT level are required to be tightened up to take effective steps to improve the quality of life of all Elders, strengthen their legitimate place in society and help them to live their last spell of life with purpose, dignity and peace by implementing the provisions pertaining to them. There is less action and cooperation from them and we request you to take suitable action for this.
3. Increase of life span has resulted in special need for looking after functional disabilities of Oldest Old (80+). Over 50% of women over 80+ are widows. Rural Poor also needs special attention. Nothing is being done for this vulnerable group. Elders in this group as well as those 70+ have retired from services in 90s, when economy had not developed to this extant. Their wages were meager, retirement benefits very low and savings were very meager. It has been laid down in Policy, 99 that senior citizens should be paid higher rates of interest and given tax exemptions. State Bank of India gives ¼ % extra interest on fixed deposits -a mockery of Elders!! Senior Citizens have to pay income tax, though they are not able to use any common services and goods and have less capacity to pay. All senior citizens should be exempted from all taxes. At least, pension must be exempted from Income Tax. One more thing is brought to your notice that retired government employees are not cared after retirement by respective departments, except by giving pension. They should be looked after by each department by keeping them in contact by inviting them for all functions, utilized on honorarium basis, as and when required in the department, allowing them to use welfare centres etc, given concessions in charges for utilizing Holiday Homes, given medical facilities as provided in NPHCE etc.
4. We request you to provide Avenues of Utilization of Elders. Even after 15 years of formation of the Policy for overall upliftment of Senior Citizens, nothing is done for their proper utilization. Many Senior Citizens feel lonely and require some avenues of passing their time usefully.
5. Nodal Ministry has formed a very useful scheme of Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP, 2008) for providing 16 schemes like Day Care Centres, Physiotherapy Centres etc , very useful to Elders with provision of 90% grant for recurring and non-recurring expenditure but due to lack of any action on part of Central & State Ministries in charge of Municipalities and Panchayats, not a single Municipality or Panchayat has come forward to provide even a single facility in the entire Country in 6 years!! We shall be thankful, if necessary action is got taken by these sleeping ministries.
With a hope that some dynamic action is taken on above major problems of your elders.