To 08 August 2014
All Central Council members of AISCCON, affiliated organizations, Patrons, partner organizations and our well wishers
A new political setup has come to the power at National level with clear majority in the Loksabha. Before the elections, during the elections and till the swearing in ceremony of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on 27th May 2014, almost for a period of more than six months, there was little action in Government all over the country.
In view of the election manifesto and promises of the political Party in power and the 39th Report of the Parliament Standing committee under the chairmanship of Hon’able Shri Hemanand Biswal, on social justice and empowerment (2013-2014) (fifteenth lok sabha), Ministry of social justice and empowerment on “Implementation of schemes for welfare of senior citizens” presented to Hon'ble Speaker, Lok Sabha on 4.1.2014 and presented to Lok Sabha on 7.2.2014 and also laid in Rajya Sabha on 7.2.2014, we had written to the Hon,ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,Minister of Social Justice Shri Thaawar Chand Ghelot, Minister of Finance Shri Arun Jaitley, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Shri Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Railways Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda and Minister of Paliamentary Affairs Shri Prakash Jawadekar for implementation of rights,policies and programmes for the dignity and welfare of the senior citizens in the country before the budget 2014-15.
The main issues raised were early implementation of schemes for welfare of senior citizens during 12th Plan, to improve the performance of Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP) of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment , Programmes for senior citizens in rural areas facing deprivation, discrimination, dispossession, loneliness and abuse for social security, healthcare, recreation, entertainment and peer interaction of senior citizens through day care centres, old age homes and other measures with the help of Panchayati Raj institutions and local bodies, setting up of Regional Research Centre (RRTCs) in each State, recognition of AISCCON as National Association of Older Persons (NAOP), minimum old age pension of Rs 3500 to all BPL senior citizens and retirees of EPS -95 linked with inflation index,extension of geriatric health care and other facilities in all the districts, separate Ministry for elderly for better monitoring and implementation of National Policy for Older persons -99, Income Tax concessions with Financial Protection, National Welfare Trust for Senior Citizens, expansion of the National Programme of Health Care for the Elderly (NHPCE) in many more districts, with renewed push for its location in all the districts in the country, need for health insurance for the older persons or universalization, need for a Regulator to rein in the hospitals both in regard to cost and the quality of their services with judicious administration.
Railway concession in fares of passenger trains, 50% rail Fare travel concession to male Sr. Citizens, free journey for one attendant accompanying very Sr. Citizens (80+), provision of escalators on main & important station and ramps on others, provision of Separate compartment for Sr. Citizens in local trains, separate queues for Senior Citizens at ticket booking windows,
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ( WEAAD) :
I am happy to inform you that our member organizations, all over the country, have extensively observed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to prevent and Combat Elder Abuse.
The summary of the action programmes of the member organizations is as follows:
1. Sensitize professionals and educate the general public, using media and other awareness-raising campaigns, on the subject of elder abuse and its various characteristics and causes;
2. Abolish widowhood rites that are harmful to the health and well-being of women;
3. Create pressure group to enact legislation and strengthen legal efforts to eliminate elder abuse;
4. Eliminate harmful traditional practices involving older persons;
5. Encourage cooperation between Government and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, in addressing elder abuse by, inter alia, developing community initiatives;
6. Minimize the risks to older women of all forms of neglect, abuse and violence by increasing public awareness of, and protecting older women from, such neglect, abuse and violence, especially in emergency situations;
7. Encourage further research into the causes, nature, extent, seriousness and consequences of all forms of violence against older women and men and widely disseminate findings of research and studies.
8. Establish information programmes to educate older persons about consumer fraud.
The Ministry has sanctioned us a Research Project titled as “Centre’s Policy of older persons -Reasons for Non-implementation and Recommendations for Better Implementation”
The Project is already 15 months old and AISCCON has not been able to complete the Project in the stipulated period of 12 months. A request was made to the Project and Research Evaluation and Monitoring Division ( PREM Division ) of the MOSJE for an extension of six months for completion of the Project .During my visit to New Delhi myself and Dr Sugan Bhatia met Dr Mukat Singh on 16th July 2014 for the extension and he has kindly agreed to our request.
The following announcements have been made in the Budget 2014-15 for senior citizens
1. Income tax exemption limit raised from Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs 3.0 lakhs
2. EPFO to launch unified account scheme to ensure Provident Fund portability
3. Senior citizen pension scheme to be revived.
4. One rank, one pension: Rs 1,000 crore allocated for implementing One Rank One Pension scheme
5. Unused saving schemes money for elderly welfare
"A large amount of money is estimated to be lying as unclaimed amounts with PPF (Public Provident Fund), post office, saving schemes etc. These are mostly out of investments belonging to the senior citizens and on their demise, remain unclaimed for want of relevant payment instructions," Arun Jaitley , Minister of Finanace said while presenting his maiden budget.
"I propose to set up a committee to examine and recommend how this amount can be used to protect and further financial interests of the senior citizens. The committee will give its report not later than December this year," he added.
Jaitley said the NDA government during its last term in office had introduced the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) as a pension scheme for senior citizens under which 3.16 lakh people were being benefited.
"I propose to revive the scheme for a limited period from Aug 15, 2014 to Aug 14, 2015 for the benefit of citizens aged 60 years and above," he said.
"The government is notifying minimum pension of Rs.1,000 per month to all subscriber members of Employees Pension Scheme (EPS) and has made an initial provision of Rs.250 crore in the current financial year to meet the expenditure."
"Increase in mandatory wage ceiling of subscription to EPS from Rs.6,500 to Rs.15,000 has been made and a provision of Rs.250 crore has been provided in the current budget," Jaitley said.
Employees Provident Fund Organisation will launch the "Uniform Account Number" Service for contributing members to facilitate portability of Provident Fund accounts, he added.
14th AISCCON National Conference to be held in Udaipur, Rajasthan on 21st and 22 February 2015 :
This year the Annual Conference of AISCCON is being held in Udaipur, Rajasthan to highlight the issues of Senior Citizens. The Focal Theme of the Conference is Geriatric Care in India-Challenges and Prospects.. We expect 2000 to 2500 delegates to converge on Udaipur on above days.It is being hosted by Maharana Pratap Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Meeting with Minister of MOSJE:
I met the Hon.ble Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaaawar Chand Ghelot in the parliament house along with Dr Bhatia, Shri Suresh Chandra Sharma, MS Shubhada Jagirdar, Ms Kavita Narayanan and others and discussed the issues of dignity and welfare of senior citizens. The Minister agreed to take action on all the issues raised in our memorandum given to him before the Budget.
He informed us about a meeting of all the Ministers, Secretaries and Directors of Social Justice and Empowerment of State Governments, Union Territories being called to take up all the issues of senior citizens such as social concerns, health care, empowerment, legal aspects, providing for the needs of elderly women and other vulnerable groups.
It was not possible to meet other ministers as the parliament was in budget session.
High Court directives for separate compartment for senior citizens in local trains:
The Bombay High Court directed the Central and Western railways to send a proposal to the Railway Board to earmark a compartment for senior citizens in suburban trains.
A division bench of Justices AS Oka and AS Chandurkar directed the railways to send the proposal within three weeks, and the board to take a decision within two months from receiving it. It was responding to a PIL converted out of a letter, written by A B Thakker from Mumbai, urging reservation for senior citizens.
With warm regards,