Universal old age pension sought for elderly citiz



New Delhi: Raising pitch for the cause of the aged, a group of activists on Friday demanded that the Centre constitute a universal non-contributory old age pension system for all senior citizens above 55 years.

The activists, including prominent RTI activist Aruna Roy, gathered here to ask the Centre to usher in a new pension policy and set up a universal scheme wherein pension is paid to all senior citizens, especially those who come under the unorganised sector.

"Life expectancy of people has increased as a result of our booming health sector, but, with age, the body is unable to cope with the skills required to earn a living. It is the State's obligation to provide succour for these people," Roy said.

Describing as "dismal" the condition of the aged in the unorganised sector, she sought a minimum amount of monthly pension not less than Rs 2,000 for such people.

The elderly in vulnerable groups and socially stigmatised communities such as sex workers, trans-genders and HIV positive patients should also be included, she said.

Roy, who leads Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, also said the APL/BPL criteria should not be used for exclusion of any individual and all senior citizens should come under the purview of the proposed pension system.

Currently, people above 60 years get a pension of Rs 200 per month and those over 80 get Rs 500 under the Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme instituted by the Ministry of Rural Development.

"However, this is limited to people living below the poverty line. Of the total elderly population, only 1.87 crore are beneficiaries of this scheme," Roy pointed out.

PTI