One of the most neglected and ignored segment is of Senior Citizens. Elders are not considered as part of mainstream, there is unjust treatment to those who gain 60 years of age, they are suddenly considered ‘Retired’, good for nothing. Government and Civil Society are not bothered of this experienced and skill group of people.
Population of people above 60 years of age is estimated to be 86 million in 2008.The Life span has increased by 60% in 60 yrs. India has today second largest population of Senior Citizens.
The Indian subcontinent boasts of our ‘Great Joint Family’ ‘The Traditional Family’ System where we used to respect, care and love our elders, our parents. Due to Globalization and New lifestyle there is increasing number of Abuse, Neglect and Abandon case with regards to Senior Citizens.
The growing population and voice of senior Citizens can’t be ignored. At present India has around 7.5% of Elderly out of total population, but Senior Citizens constitute to around 13% of Voters. This 13% huge and powerful and unrecognized segment of voters can’t be left alone, they can’t be ignored. Political Parties has to include projects and programmes for the benefits of Elderly in their respective Manifesto.
Silver Inning Foundation an NGO working with Elderly had appealed Elders to use their voting power.It had also asked Political Parties to include Senior Citizens issues and solution in their respective Manifesto.
Senior Citizens were at their best as usual they participated in big numbers in 2009 General Election of India.See some of the news items in leading Indian News Papers:
Various News Item:
Inveterate voters make their mark
The enthusiasm of senior citizens to vote on Thursday should put youngsters to shame. As against the abysmal turnout of youth, senior citizens exercised their sovereign right mindless of their age.
Nothing was seen as an impediment by the enthusiastic elderly from casting their precious vote. Attired in crisp white pyjamas and kurtas and in some cases traditional outfits the earnestness shown by the aged to vie for their candidate was one of its kind.
Without disrupting the security norms and seeking any extra favours, senior citizens came out in full swing to choose their candidate. Withstanding the heat and long queues, the patience shown by the aged for voting was a commendable feat. "On Thursday autos were assigned to ferry electoral equipment and officers. But the striking aspect of the day was when I had to pick an ailing senior citizen to vote. He was finding it very difficult to walk and required assistance even to reach to the booth. However his determination to cast vote was amazing," said Vashi Taxi Rickshaw Chalak Malak Ekta Union's president Sunil Borde.
Placing complete trust on democracy for the senior citizen casting of vote is symbolic to the love one has for the country. The whole process is revered more than just an ink mark drawn upon the finger. "I'm 92 years old and voted inspite of having to walk a stretch of 2 kms. The Indian government renewed my passport for another 10 years, so if God wills then I will vote again the next time. God bless those who don't vote for it is a responsibility towards one's nation. It's an immensely thought out decision that I execute with total dedication on the day of voting for a candidate," said Belapur resident Sardar Kabil Singh.
Nurturing an aspiration for a stable government that provides a prosperous future is the primary motivating factor that prompts the aged to vote. "I want a stable government that can lead the nation to its best. If I don't vote then I have no right to complain for the bad governance that I will have to endure for the next five years. The initiative of independent candidates is praiseworthy, but the country can only be lead by a strong party. My vote will play a prominent role in bringing the correct party into power," said 84-year-old Gauri Mullick vice president of the Belapur-based Association for Senior Citizens.
Senior citizens in old age homes indifferent to polls
They have seen political parties come and go, all these years. While most senior citizens remain indifferent to the processes of democracy, a hopeful few still see it as an initiator of change.
Sixty-nine-year-old Sulochana Naik, a resident of the Nivara Old People's home in Navi Peth, voted in the last elections. This time around, though, she has no intentions of doing so. "I just wanted to see what the atmosphere is like," she shrugs adding, "And I did. In any case, I don't think it makes a difference."
In fact, Naik's response sums up the general mood of the senior citizens at the various old people's homes in the city, when it comes to the elections. Nirmala Sovani, trustee-manager of Nivaara says, "We have about 180 residents here.
Many of them are too old or too preoccupied with their own problems. Our organisation does not encourage or discourage anyone from voting. But political parties are allowed to canvas inside the premises. On the day of the elections, various parties arrange for the transportation. We also provide our own transport for those who are interested," she says.
At another old age home in Camp, 75-year-old Ronnie Perrera (name changed) gives you a blank look when asked if he is planning to vote. "I have recently suffered two cardiac arrests and besides, I am diabetic too. Do you think I'm interested in the elections?" he grumbles.
The warden at the old age home, points to a newspaper poll, which asks readers whether they actually believe in the promises made by politicians. "Ninety per cent have said no. Naturally, we aren't any different," she says. "Honestly, it's the local community which helps us.
They are the ones who want to know what we need, and help out. Even if we get a government that promises funds for old people's homes, the paper work will drown us!" she remarked. She said that there were some registered voters but most of them were just too old and sick to make it on voting day. Others would agree.
"Whatever we need, the people who live in the vicnity, ensure we receive. Be it ration, clothing or even money we don't run short. And the government has little to do with it," says another trustee. According to Sudha Dhamankar, manager, Tapodham Old People's Home in Warje, "Our inmates do vote. But as such, it's an indifferent process.
They know little about the candidate because they have never seen the candidates from the area," she says, adding, "Possibly because parties don't think the votes of senior citizens matter." In sharp contrast, Jayant Savlekar, manager at the 100-inmate strong Matoshree old people's home, says, "The inmates out here are pretty charged up about voting.
In the last elections, the voters' cards weren't ready as quite a few of them were from outside Pune.
But this time around, they are all in place." 75-year-old Usha Modak, a retired school-teacher affirms: "If you want the system to change, you must make the effort. I believe that in the next ten years, India's demography is going to show a huge change. As life expectancies increase, the number of old people are going to increase too. We need to come up with a pressure group to take up our issues."
For his part, 82-year-old Shriram Pundalik says, "The question of age doesn't bother me. Our collective political fate does." And how are they planning to travel on the day of voting? "By foot, because the polling booth is right next door. In any case, we wouldn't have accepted transport from any one,"says Savlekar.
Senior citizens steal the show in Delhi
A large number of elderly people in the national capital today came out to cast their ballot as they did not want to be a 'pappu', a name given by Delhi electoral office to those who do not cast their votes.
Senior citizens across the seven constituencies queued up to vote right from the early hours of the polling. "I don't want to be a pappu," said 72-year-old Aditya Raizada, showing his ink-mark after coming out from a polling booth at Vinod Nagar in East Delhi constituency.
Raizada, a former scribe, who came with his wife and son added, "Though we don't have much choice, voting for me is a sense of duty. I hope the next government will be a better one."
In Tilak Nagar of West Delhi constituency, 91-year-old Vishambar Das came along with his 80-year-old wife Krishnawati to vote. "I came with a desire that government should do good work and should work for people like us," Das said.
Similarly, an 81-year-old woman was one of the early voters at the Nirman Bhavan polling booth, a VIP polling booth in the capital where political heavyweights exercised their franchise. Even physical discomfort could not deter the spirit of many such voters who braved long queues to exercise their franchise some times even under the scorching sun.
Ram Das, 80, a retired MTNL officer, turned up to vote at a polling station in Hari Nagar area. He came with a urine bag attached. A number of physically challenged persons voted in Tilak Nagar, Tilak Vihar, Trilokpuri, Mangolpuri, Hari Nagar, Rohini and Rithala areas. While for some it was a regular exercise of their duty, many came with certain pressing issues in their mind and expectations from their next representative.
"I only need food and cloth," said octogenarian Gyarasi Devi, who walked up to a booth at cramp Mangolpuri locality in North-West Delhi, soon after the polling started. For few, the reason for coming to vote was that they simply did not want to be left out of the political process. "I came here to vote so that parties later do not ask where were you at the time of voting," said Mustaqueen, 80. Delhi has over 21 lakh voters in the age group of 50 to 80 years out of the total 1.1 crore electorate.
Silver Inning Foundation Salutes all the Senior Citizens.
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