States to be urged to adopt resolutions for pension to elderly

Following up its five-day dharna here, the Pension Parishad has decided to intensify political mobilisation for pressing its demand for universal old age pension.

Several political leaders addressed the demonstrators during the dharna and the Parishad leaders called on President Pratibha Patil to elicit her support.

On Saturday, a delegation will call on UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC).

Leaders from political parties including the Congress, the BJP, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Biju Janata Dal, the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party have supported their demand for universal pension as a matter of entitlement and an honourable monthly payment.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh intends to propose a raise in the old age pension from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 per month and remove the distinction between Below Poverty Line and the Above Party Line and extend the scope of the pension network.

Parishad convenors Baba Adhav and Aruna Roy along with economists Prabhat Patnaik and Ravi Srivastava and social activist Vimla said they would wait for the government's response till August 15 before deciding on their next course of action.

Till then they will visit States and districts to mobilise political support for a social security network for about 10 crore people who have nothing to fall back on once they stop working.

Aim of campaign

The most critical thrust of their campaign is to urge the gram panchayats to adopt resolutions at their gram sabhas supporting the demands for a pension of Rs. 2,000 per individual. The block samitis and the urban bodies too will be urged to adopt similar resolutions.

The parishad will also approach the State governments to adopt resolutions to ensure a universal pension to the elderly as a matter of right and dignity.

Its leaders pointed out that those above the age of 60 constituted 10 percent of the population and 14 percent of the electoral rolls, which political parties could ill afford to ignore.

Mr. Adhav said a parishad team intended to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking immediate steps to address this problem and render social justice.

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