Rs 200 to Rs 2,000: elderly get paltry old-age pension

According to the report released ahead of the two-day protest programme by the senior citizens in Delhi that started on Sunday, there are around 3.23 crore of the 10.38 crore elderly are beneficiaries of old-age pension in the country at present. (DH illustration)

As the world celebrates another International Day for Elderly Persons on Monday, senior citizens in the country are on the streets protesting against the paltry pension, as low as Rs 200 per month, they receive in old-age.

The latest report on 'The State of Pensions in India 2018', prepared by a network of activist groups 'Pension Parishad', showed that almost half of the Indian states are paying less than Rs 500 per month while 29 are paying below Rs 1,000.

The Centre pays just Rs 200 per person every month, the rate fixed in 2007 and not revised since then, as its contribution to the scheme while the state contribution range from zero to Rs 1,800. Despite the amount being low, there are also frequent complaints of delay in giving them the money.

According to the report released ahead of the two-day protest programme by the senior citizens in Delhi that started on Sunday, there are around 3.23 crore of the 10.38 crore elderly are beneficiaries of old-age pension in the country at present.

Manipur has the lowest old-age pension of Rs 200 while Mizoram (Rs 250), Nagaland and Odisha (Rs 300 each) as well as states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat (Rs 400 each) as well as Karnataka (Rs 500) are among the states and union territories, where the amount is "laughably paltry" as prominent economist Prabhat Patnaik put it.

The only places where the amount was above Rs 1,000 was Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi, Goa, Kerala, Puducherry (Rs 2,000 each) and Arunachal Pradesh Rs (1,700). There are six states which give Rs 1,000 as a pension.

A comparison would show that except Karnataka, all the southern states and union territories give a pension of Rs 1,000 or above and the region fare better compared to other parts of the country.

Patnaik, who authored a chapter in the report, said, "The figure of Rs 200 has remained unchanged since 2006-07. Even the elementary courtesy of indexing it to inflation has not been accorded to the elderly. This is truly a scandalous state of affairs, not just because the sum is laughably paltry, the beneficiary list absurdly truncated, and even elementary protection against inflation missing, but above all because of what it reveals about the government's attitude."

Activists Aruna Roy and Sohini Shoaib wrote, "a deflation at the rate of 8% per annum (Consumer Price Index average from 2007 to 2016) reduces this (Rs 200) amount to Rs 93 rupees – lower than when it was first introduced in the year 1995. Indexing income security to inflation to accommodate for price rise isn't a choice but a necessary policy design feature."

At the protest, the elders are demanding the pension should be at least half of the minimum wages or Rs 3,000, which is highest and indexed to inflation. On Monday, they are organising a 'Jan Manch' in Parliament Street where political leaders have been invited to express their commitment to the cause.  

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Rs 200 to Rs 2,000: elderly get paltry old-age pension

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