It will advise governments on their welfare

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved the constitution of a National Council for Senior Citizens to advise the Central and State governments on the welfare of senior citizens.

The setting up of such a council was one of the recommendations made by an experts committee headed by Mohini Giri in the Draft National Policy on Senior Citizens.

The policy was submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice in 2011.

A PMO statement on Wednesday said the council would advise the Union government and States on policies, programmes and legislative measures; promotion of physical and financial security, health and independent and productive living; and awareness generation and community mobilisation.

The council will be chaired by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment and its members are the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, the oldest members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, representatives of five State governments (one each from the north, south, east, west and the northeast regions) and one Union Territory by rotation, five representatives each from senior citizens' associations, pensioners' association, NGOs working for senior citizens and five senior citizens who have distinguished themselves in various fields.

Dr. Giri said their report had recommended that old-age pension scheme cover all senior citizens living below poverty line and the raise the monthly pension to Rs.1000 a month.

The amount should be revised periodically to prevent its deflation due to the higher purchasing cost.

The report has also sought changes in taxation policies to reflect sensitivity to the financial problems of senior citizens, keeping in mind very high medical costs.

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