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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elderly to vote but rue govt apathy

This time the silver brigade, which has always been conscious about its responsibility as a citizen and rather diligent about casting its vote, feels ignored and does not seem to be too upbeat about the election.

Over years, every poll booth had seen senior citizens exercising their franchise without fail. While some queue up just before the afternoon siesta, for others, like 82-year-old Lamington Road resident Adi Jasswalla, casting their votes right in the morning has become a ritual. Even before he goes on his daily morning walk around August Kranti Maidan, Jasswalla makes sure he casts his vote. Joining him in the queue are his octogenarian fiends and neighbours. “I am going to be on time this year as well. It is my right and I will vote till my health fails,’’ says the retired banker who lives alone. He believes security is on the top of people’s mind, his age.

However, Sailesh Mishra, founder president of the Silver Inning Foundation, a community of senior citizens, says the elderly are not too enthusiastic this time around. “They feel that they have been ignored though they form over 15% of the vote bank,’’ he says, pointing at the state government’s failure to implement the National Policy for Older Persons (NPOP).

NGOs for senior citizens, like Help Age India, also wonder about what happened to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. “The state declared that it would be implemented on March 1, but nothing has happened,’’ says Prakash Borgaonkar, joint director, Help Age India. Under the Act, a Maintenance Application can be filed by senior citizens who are unable to protect themselves from abuses by their children or relatives.

Introducing geriatrics as a subject in government colleges and directing special attention to “teaching schoolchildren how to take care of elders’’ are a few of the other demands, says Mishra.

He also said a special ward should be started in every municipal hospital.

Senior citizens feel that the government has ignored them, failing to implement several policies.



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