‘Higher pension required for us to lead respectable lives’

Senior citizens arrive at Safdarjung railway station from Tamil Nadu on Saturday. They have come to the Capital to demand a hike in pension.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

“From the age of 20 to 60 we have worked for the nation. Now, with the meagre pension provided by the government, we can hardly lead a respectable life. We do not want to live the rest of our lives by depending on others. We want an independent life. After having worked for the nation all our life it is but imperative that the nation gives us back our due,” said 66-year-old Puroshottam after arriving at the Capital from Tamil Nadu.

At 5.30 p.m. on Saturday, a special train from Tamil Nadu reached Safdarjung Railway Station, bringing over 1,200 senior citizens, who are demanding a hike in pension rates.

Seventy-year-old Valliammal, from the fisherfolk community in Nagapattinam, echoed similar concerns and said that senior citizens should not be left as dependants.

“When I was 35 years old, my husband and son had gone fishing and never returned. Since then I have raised two children with utmost difficulty. Currently, we get ₹1,000 from the State government but it should be doubled as it is not enough to sustain ourselves. Even though we have children who are now well-established, we do not want to depend on them. All senior citizens, irrespective of whether they have children to support them or not, should be given a pension,” she said.

Fight for raised pensions to lead a respectable and dignified life is what made them embark on the 60-hour journey to the Capital, they said.

K. Dharmalingam, 74, from Cuddalore said, “Only if you have money are you respected. Multiple times we are in situations where our own children have thrown us out. They seem to be interested only in property. Hence, we need a raise in pension so that we can live our lives in a respectable and dignified manner.”

Meagre rate

On Sunday, senior citizens from across the country will be participating in a rally demanding a universal pension scheme.

“This is a national-level movement through which we are demanding a universal pension to enable senior citizens lead a respectable life. It is for those who have nothing. The meagre rate of ₹200, provided by the Centre has not increased over the last many years. There is no point of this amount as what is one supposed to do with it. We are demanding that it be raised to at least ₹3,000 which is half the amount prescribed for minimum wages,” said Pension Parishad national convenEr Shankar Singh.

Mathew Cherian, CEO of NGO HelpAge India said, “While the Centre gives ₹200, the amount given by the State governments vary. While eight crore people are entitled to the pension, currently only 2.2 crore of them receive it. Close to 15,000 senior citizens will be a part of the rally from Mandi House to Parliament Street on Sunday.”

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 2:42:12 AM |

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