Andhra Pradesh

Elders caution leaders against their neglect

Senior citizens

Senior citizens   | Photo Credit: CH_VIJAYA BHASKAR

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Several issues yet to be sorted out, they say

The massive youth voter base is the talking point as a large number of first time voters are all set to exercise their franchise, thus making a huge impact on the electoral outcome.

But the senior citizens, whose interests are almost always overlooked, have cautioned political leaders in the fray against their neglect.

“We constitute 12 % of the population and 16 % of the voters, according to the voter list but we have the capacity to influence 36% of the voters,” says V. Narayana Murthy, president of the Andhra Pradesh Senior Citizens Welfare Samakhya.

“Our children, their families, grandchildren and their families are all voters. Overlooking our welfare could mean losing their votes,” warns Motukuri Venkateswara Rao, secretary of the Krishna District Senior Citizens Welfare Association.

The two leaders admit that measures like increasing the old age pension to ₹2,000 a month, concession for senior citizens in bus and train fares and steps to make generic medicines available have helped the fraternity a great deal. “But there are other very serious long-standing issues that need to be addressed,” says Mr. Murthy.

Failure of the successive governments to effectively implement the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, which makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents by monthly allowance, is one. The Act also provides simple, speedy and inexpensive mechanism for protection of life and property of the elderly.

“The population of senior citizens is increasing by the day and so will their problems. Incidents of their properties being taken away or land encroached upon are on the rise. Physically weak and mentally dejected, many of them are leading very unhappy lives,” says Mr. Murthy, citing a number of examples.

“So far, no government has allocated staff or any budget for effective implementation of this Act,” says Mr. Venkateswara Rao.

The State has a population of nearly 50 lakh senior citizens. “Youth must realise that tomorrow they will reach where we are today and support the cause of the senior citizens,” says Mr. Murthy, who is a retired Deputy Commercial Tax Officer in West Godavari district and coordinator for the Ennikala Nigha Vedika (Election Watch Committee).

A separate Ministry for senior citizens is what the fraternity has been pitching for. “More than anything else, senior citizens deserve respect. There are a number of serious issues for which an exclusive department is needed. Our welfare has been merged with the Women and Child Welfare Department, along with transgenders,” rues Mr. Venkateswara Rao.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 2:44:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/elders-caution-leaders-against-their-neglect/article26601560.ece

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