Only 10 percent of India’s senior citizens getting pension

February 22nd, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) India is home to over 80 million elderly but only eight million are getting pension, experts said here Friday. “Seven out of 10 elderly people in India are below the poverty line but just 10 percent of our elderly are getting pension,” Mathew Cherian, chief executive of Help Age India, said.

Highlighting the plight of senior citizens, Cherian said the aging people needed greater community and governmental support.

He was speaking at the launch of a book “The Impact of Ageing - A Common Challenge for Europe and Asia”, edited by Gabriele Sinigoj, an author from Austria.

Voicing equal concern, former Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill said: “Something is being done, but very little.”

He said the problems concerning the elderly were very different in urban and rural India, and the issue should be tackled accordingly.

In urban India, the elderly faced loneliness and insecurity as their family members had either migrated or were too busy to provide support. In rural India, shrinking land holdings and a vast landless population led to conflict among families.

Experts said breakdown of the family structure, loneliness, insecurity and poverty were some of the challenges that the elderly of India were facing today.

Arbind Prasad, joint secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, said the newly-framed The Maintenance of Parents and Welfare of Senior Citizens Act would provide crucial legal power to vulnerable and neglected older citizens.

Drawing the attention of the ministry, Gill, said: “The act may seem strong from outside but there are so many rules and guidelines inside it. The ministry must give a hard look at it and try to give the benefit to senior citizens as much as possible.”

Austrian Ambassador to India F. Maultaschi said that Austria and India might be two different countries but their aging populace was a common area of concern.

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