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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Elderly people see democracy as panacea for social ills

Age has not withered their spirit nor has it daunted their belief in the electoral process as senior citizens in the national capital seek to keep their tryst with democracy, even braving long queues at poll booths.

A survey, conducted by HelpAge India, an NGO working for the welfare of elderly people, has found that such people have full faith in democracy and want to exercise their franchise.

Notwithstanding their age, 96.4 per cent of the 300 elderly people said they will vote in the Lok Sabha elections in the city on Thursday.

However, voting is not just a customary exercise of right for these senior citizens, as they want the candidates to address their issues, the survey said.

Security against crime and abuse, and better health care top their list of issues. Over 30 per cent of the respondents in the age group of 51-90 years said safety was the principal issue for them, while nearly 28 per cent said they want better health care services.

Over 57 per cent said they will decide their candidates, keeping such issues in mind, the survey pointed out.

"I feel security is the main issue. Elderly people in the city have become an easy target these days and it is even difficult to trust the local police," the survey quoted 70-year-old Sudershan Arora as saying.

They think basic facilities like water, electricity and roads are necessary and the government should address such issues.

Over 41 per cent of the respondents said they were not happy with the performance of the past governments.

As much as 40 per cent of the respondents felt the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act had made "no visible difference since its inception (in 2007)", whereas only 15 per cent are aware of the National Policy for Older Persons announced in 1999.

Most of these respondents demanded faster implementation of these measures.

"Senior citizens of Delhi want the new central government to be more assertive in preventing crime and abuse against the elderly and provide affordable health care services," said Kapil Kaul, country head of HelpAge India.

The finding assumes significance as Delhi has over 21 lakh voters in the age group of 50-80 years out of a total of 1.1 crore voters.


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