Activists of Pension Parishad, continue to campaign for universal pension system and are pressing for a minimum monthly pension not less than 50 percent of minimum wage or Rs.2,000 per month, whichever is higher.

Retirement remains a luxury few among the poor in India can afford. The latest Census reveals that India is home to 14.29 crore elderly (aged above 54 years) population, varying considerably with around 70 per cent of the elderly residing in rural areas.

Additionally, 32 per cent of elderly males and 72 percent of elderly females are entirely dependent on others economically for sustenance.

According to the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) approximately Rs. 71,287 crore is required for universal old age pension at Rs 500 per month for all aged above 54years.

Pension provisions differ across states and across state and centre on basis of monthly pension amounts, minimum eligibility age, and maximum income limit for eligibility.

An expanded social pension would undoubtedly improve the lives of older people and their households in India. However, few states provide a somewhat generous supplemental pension, most provide a tiny supplemental amount, some nothing at all.

States that grant a significant monthly pension amount, include Goa (Rs 2000) and Tamil Nadu (Rs 800). On the other hand, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra at 55 years for females respectively are role models for minimum eligibility age.

More specifically, Rajasthan aims to achieve a comprehensive old age pension scheme by increasing its pension expenditure (2011-12) by an estimated 255 per cent.

The CBGA data further reveals that 8 states including Goa, Haryana, Sikkim and two Union Territories are already incurring expenses on old age pension more than required for the Rajasthan model. Interestingly, 5 states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat) will require relatively higher increase in expenditure on pensions as proportion of present expenses, with Gujarat requiring the highest increase of 1097 per cent.

Currently, the centre-state combined expense on old age pension is around Rs 14,370 crore, with centre share of Rs 4916 crore forming only 34 percent of total expenses, far below the 50 per cent sharing principle that a concurrent list subject like social security demands.

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