From: M.V.Ruparelia, A503 Rashmi Utsav, Near
To Date: 18-12-09.
Shri Mukul Wasnik,
Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment,
Sub: Reviewing the National Policy of Older Persons, 1999.
Ref: Your Ministry’s letter no. 15-37(6)/07-08/AG dt 20-11-09 in reply to my letter dt 27-5-09 to Prime Minister of India.
1. For our request to give a comprehensive plan for Senior Citizens covering all points enumerated in NPOP,99 and to create a Welfare Fund for Elders early, it has been advised in your above that 10 years have passed since the announcement of the Policy and that the Policy is being reviewed. It is hoped that the Policy is being reviewed after 10 years for making it more Elder-Friendly and not for adverse/down sizing amendments to this wonderful piece of Policy containing 98 Paras, covering all aspects of life of Elders of our Country. We request you to appoint a Committee of prominent Senior Citizens for this Review also, as was done for formation of this Policy.
2. As the Policy has not been implemented in right spirit by most of the Stake-Holders even after 10 years, resulting in Abuse of Elders of our Country, it is requested to propose a legislation defining the scope and duties of all Stake-Holders viz Nodal Ministry, other Central Ministries, State/UT authorities, Municipal-Panchayat authorities, Public Sector Undertakings, Major Corporates, Big Business Houses employing large number, Trusts, NGOs, Powerful Media etc. Even Chief Information Commissioner,
3. Majority of Senior Citizens are sober, introvert, aloof type, God fearing and resigned to FATE! Most are not inclined to adapt new active Life Style after retirement and many feel that now they have to rest and wait for their turn to go up etc! It is therefore necessary for the Government and the Society/Media to enthuse this lot of citizens, who are large in number and going to survive for long even without their wishing! Keeping in view the economic progress of the Country and deteriorating financial position of Senior Citizens due to reduction of interest rates and surmounting dearness for food items & bare necessities, Policy has to provide concrete action plans, if necessary by legislation also, to ensure financial security; healthy life; social interaction opportunities; proper utilization tasks for Senior Citizens ; more liberal provisions in all matters for older old(80 & above); special colonies for Senior Citizens; large number of Day Care Centers, Holiday Homes/Resorts/Convalescent Homes; concessions in entertainment places, travels, hotels, resorts etc; well defined detailed role of Media, early creation of National Association of Older Persons(NAOP) at Center & State/District/Locality level and fixing tasks to be carried out by such Associations. Little force/compulsion has to be used to get results and this should not be shied away, keeping in view how Smoking in trains & Public Places and Processions on Public Roads were curbed by force/legislation giving valuable advantages to the entire Community.
4. The following suggestions may also be kept in view, while reviewing this Grand Policy:-
i) No provision/para of this Policy may be deleted/downsized in any manner, as all Paras cover very important aspects of life of Senior Citizens.
ii) Demographic Trends: As per latest trends, number of Senior Citizens not only in
iii) Financial Security: As we have adopted Global Capitalistic System, there shall be more poor and less rich and this can not be helped in view of the present trend of Economic Development. As there will be more BPL Senior Citizens and as the position of Above Poverty Line but not coming within Income Tax Limit Senior Citizens shall also be precarious, the Policy has to provide specific Financial Security for both the groups. The present system of classifying Senior Citizens as BPL is defective and needs immediate change, as detailed in my letter dt 13-10-09 to P.M. (copy enclosed –Annexure I). The present quantum of Rs 200 by Central and similar contribution by State is a mockery of human being and World Organizations must be laughing at this gesture of such a wealthy country on way to become number one and as such sufficient pension for a human may be laid down in revised Policy for BPL & APL Senior Citizens. The proposed New Tax Law from 2011-12 is another blow on Financial Security of Senior Citizens and specific provisions in new Policy exempting Senior Citizens from adverse provisions shall be necessary, considering all points raised in my letter dt 12-9-09 (copy enclosed –Annexure II). Unless, Nodal Ministry makes out a very strong case for Financial Security to all BPL & APL Senior Citizens, depicting the miseries they will be facing in the coming years with declining income and mounting expenditure for food & bear necessities, majority of Elders of our Country can not think of decent & dignified life. Employment should be allowed to be continued till Senior Citizens desire and are fit to work and age bar must be removed. Retired employees of the Government, Public Sector and big Business Houses must be statutorily provided same facilities as serving employees to avoid financial burden on only the Government. Even as per present Policy, all Departments and Employers should be asked to provide various facilities to their retired staff, as asked by Nodal Ministry to Railway Ministry as brought out in Annexure III.
iv) Health Care & Nutrition: As the Life-Span shall increase and number of older old increases, it will be necessary to provide more and more free/subsidized health services to all Senior Citizens. In addition to free service by State/Municipal Hospitals, Private Hospitals, Trusts etc will have to be made to provide subsidized service to Senior Citizens and pay special attention to Senior Citizens, if necessary by legislation. A controlling authority like IRDA shall be absolutely necessary for private Hospitals to control prices of various facilities, operations etc. In addition to present Health Insurance Schemes for unorganized sector BPL Senior Citizens, similar provision is required to be made for similar scheme for APL Senior Citizens also. Appropriate Medi-Claim Insurance with affordable premium from private sector for all Senior Citizens desiring the same should be provided, if necessary through proper legislation. Concrete steps to provide Geriatric Care, Physiotherapy, House Call System, Free/Subsidized Mid-Day Meals, Dinners etc for nutrition, as provided to children at present etc will have to be provided. Medicines must be provided at subsidized cost. Separate ques for Senior Citizens are not yet provided in any of Hospitals of Health Ministry at
v) Shelter: Special colonies with full facilities should be provided by legislation instead of simply making a provision in the Policy for encouraging the private builders! Certain quotas in all buildings like Chief Minister’s quota must be provided for Senior Citizens. Just as specific space is to be left for garden etc in each colony by legislation, provision should be made for encouraging/enforcing all builders to provide special colonies and facilities for Senior Citizens. More & more houses should be available for Senior Citizens on rent basis. Housing Boards must also give preference to Senior Citizens. Big colonies must have Day Care Centers.
vi) Welfare & other areas: As stated earlier, most of Senior Citizens having inertia & having resigned to fate, it is necessary that they are encouraged/forced to become members of their Government recognized Associations of their locality and then only issued all-India Identity Cards for various concessions. This will ensure their social inter action and improve their life styles. Each Association at all levels should be assigned specific tasks like having full details of all Senior Citizens of their area (Census); Civic problems of their area (LAM); Social Programmes like Polio eradication; Participating in all advisory committees of State/Railway/Municipal/Banks etc; Inculcating Value Systems in children through lectures, programmes, picnics etc with school children continuously; helping in grievance solving of Senior Citizens & other citizens of area etc. Each Association should be provided with sufficient accommodation with usual facilities of
vii) Media: No action is taken by Nodal or Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to involve Media for creating proper atmosphere in the Society or Government Machinery to highlight the problems of Senior Citizens, as laid down in the Policy,99. New Policy must realize the importance of this powerful IVth Estate of our Democracy and give specific tasks to Media. Each Newspaper must give one page/a corner every day or atleast some days in a week exclusively for matters pertaining to Senior Citizens. Each TV channel should also give a fixed slot every day for Senior Citizens. Ministry of I & B must also give programmes for Senior Citizens at fixed days and timings instead of any time they like, as is being done at present. They had asked for literature and soft wear etc related to issues pertaining to Senior Citizens in Inter-Ministerial Committee held on 28-3-07. In absence of such material by Nodal Ministry to various Stake Holders, it is difficult to provide programmes for Senior Citizens. Senior Citizens must be encouraged and paid honorarium for writing in Newspapers and participating in TV programmes.
viii) Implementation: Nodal Ministry & other Central Ministries and States have failed miserably to comply with various Paras (91 to 95) of Policy,99 for implementation, especially para 93, which gives unambiguous orders for implementation by fixing targets. New Policy, if necessary must give statutory orders to all Stake-Holders in clear terms to do their part of job sincerely, speedily and seriously. As NCOP and SCOVA etc have miserably failed, it is requested to form NAOP (National Association of Older Persons) laid down in para 96 with full powers to negotiate with you and specific duties, as enumerated above. Earlier this is done, it would be better for the Government, Society and Senior Citizens. Similar Associations at grass route levels may also be expedited.
It is hoped that review will not be finalized without consulting the prominent representatives of Senior Citizens and their Organizations and without notifying the proposed changes in media for information/comments of all citizens.
To Date: 13-10-09.
Dr. Man Mohan Singhji,
Hon. Prime Minister of
South Block, New Delhi-101101.
Sub: Payment of Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension (IGNOAPS) launched on 19-11-07.
You were kind enough to launch the above scheme for benefit of all Senior Citizens of 65 years and above living below poverty line as a Social Security Scheme and Support System. The Ministry of Rural Development issued instructions to States to grant this megre Pension to those citizens, who are 65 and above and belong to a household below the poverty line, which is decided as per their guidelines for BPL Census, 2002. In these guidelines, 13 socio-economic parameters were prescribed to identify relative position of each family in rural area by giving variable scores from village to village depending upon local conditions for targeting people under Ministry`s Rural BPL Programmes. No such guidelines are issued by Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation for classifying an urban citizen as BPL. 13 socio-economic parameters may be useful to Ministry Of Rural Development for launching a particular scheme in a particular village or for a particular family but in no way can help in deciding the eligibility to pay megre monthly Pension to Senior Citizens of 65 & above having megre income or staying hand to mouth in their last spell of life. How far such house to house survey applying 13 complicated parameters having 4 different scoring can be useful to decide eligibility for monthly Pension to Senior Citizens? There is no necessity of targeting Senior Citizens neither for paying IGNOAPS nor to fix their interse eligibility. More over, such guidelines go on changing for every Five Year Plan Period. We may give one example to consider the impracticality of such guidelines. In the very well developed suburb of
dt 14-8-09. It would be clear from this that eligible Senior Citizens are not classified as belonging to BPL Families and not paid megre Pension due to complicated procedures causing corruption at various levels. Considering the poverty lines of each State, a financial income limit per month or per annum should be fixed for paying this megre Pension to Senior Citizens irrespective of their family income, as Senior Citizens staying in joint families and having no income or megre income are not properly looked after by children and not paid any pocket money etc. State of
You will be surprised to know that there is no definition of Below Poverty Individual or Family either with Ministry of Rural Development or Planning Commission. The Planning Commission estimates the number and percentage of poor at National & State levels on the basis of rough and large sample survey data on house hold consumer expenditure at All-India figure of Rs 356.30 in Rural and Rs 538.60 in Urban Areas
(Press Information Bureau Estimates notified on 21-3-07).Such rough estimation can be used for providing Budget etc but not for deciding eligibility for payment of megre Pension to Senior Citizens of 65 and above.
In view of the above position and there being 3 Ministries of Rural Development, Housing and Planning Commission, it is requested that this simple work of payment to Senior Citizens may be assigned to the one concerned Ministry by fixing definition of Poverty Line (Maharashtra has fixed Rs.21000 p.a. for their Schemes) and not insisting on the unwarranted condition of belonging to BPL Family. Kindly get the financial income limit etc fixed to avoid corruption at various levels and procedure laid down for easy and early payment of this megre Pension to all eligible Senior Citizens.
To Date. 12-9-2009.
Shri Pranav Mukherji,
Hon. Minister of Finance, Government of
North Block, New Delhi-110 011.
Sub: Direct Tax Code, 2009 & Discussion Paper notified on 12-8-09.
It is heartening to note that You have started the much-needed work of discarding the complicated Income Tax Act, inherited from Britishraj, by introducing Unified Tax Law in simple language for reducing the scope of litigation. It is very much necessary that all Ministers follow your foot-steps and give simple Laws/Rules to the Nation for their Ministries. e.g. for expeditious dealing of Court Cases, One Personal Law for all irrespective of caste, creed or religion, Respect for our Culture & Elders etc.
Please, accept our congratulations for suggesting quite law rates of Income Tax for all sectors based on sound policies and practices followed by various countries of the World. Principles laid down in Paras 3.2; 3.4; 3.5 and 4.1 in Discussion Paper are really appreciable and indicate your humane approach.
We, the Senior Citizens of India would like to bring out the followings considerations to your personal notice for needful early action.
1. In our country, there are no Pensions or Free/Concessional Medical Facilities etc for retired/unemployed citizens, as in developed countries even after 61 years of
2. As per Para 12.4 of Discussion Paper, you have given some incentives for savings and hoped that people will be encouraged to save. In view of your EET proposal and permitting the savings in only 4 Savings Intermediaries, how is it expected that any one would like to invest willingly? All contributions in all kinds of P.F. will also be taxed at the time of withdrawal. Keeping savings in P.F. till retirement is otherwise also compulsory, as they have no other alternative. Now keeping in Retirement Benefit Account to avoid tax will be a big burden on retiring person, who has to use his savings for marriage of daughters or for medical treatment etc. EET and restriction of 4 Saving Intermediaries shall kill the incentive to voluntary and additional savings and people would prefer to pay tax in the current year instead of at the time of their need in future years. People will try their best to show less income and hoard money instead saving for productive progress of the Country. Senior Citizens, whose income is getting from year to year due to reduction in rates of interest, prevailing and expected rise in cost of living and medical treatment, will be at a very great disadvantage by EET rule. Though, limit of savings is proposed to be increased to 3 lakhs, Senior Citizens will be discouraged to save anything due to EET and thus will loose present incentive of getting rebate for saving of Rs 1 lakh and will have to pay more tax to the extant of not saving due to EET. Keeping in view their deteriorating financial and physical condition from year to year and keeping in view their capability to pay tax and to ensure that their Net Worth does not get reduced, as provided in Paras 3.2 and 3.4 of Discussion Paper, rule of EET may not be applied to Senior Citizens.
3. As per definition of salary, all perks are also included in salary. This will be an additional burden on retired staff, who are enjoying free or concessional medical treatment and free or concessional traveling facilities etc after retirement as per their service conditions at the time of appointment. Senior Citizens need medical treatment as a natural consequence to ageing and travel for pilgrimage or for compulsory social obligations and as such, they should be exempted from tax on such facilities, keeping in view their reduced financial capacity.
4. As per Para 7.3 of Discussion Paper, some deductions are allowed to serving employees from their income. In absence of any employment and utilization of Senior Citizens by Government, it is necessary for Senior Citizens to go somewhere or other compulsorily to pass their time usefully like going to temples, associations, pilgrimage, doctors, hospitals etc. They should also be given some annual allowance.
7. Sec 67 of the Code allows deduction for fees of 2 children. There are certain families in which children are not earning much and depend upon their parents. In such cases, if any Senior Citizens pay such fees for 2 grand children, they should be allowed this deduction. Similar deduction for payment of Insurance Premium in Sec 69(3) by Senior Citizens for their children or grand children may also be allowed to them.
8. Sec 200 of the Code makes it compulsory for deduction of Tax at source above Rs 10000 from one source. It is difficult for Senior Citizens to obtain certificate for exemption from Assessment Officer every year. Present practice or similar practice as Form 15 H etc may be continued for Senior Citizens.
Above factors may kindly be considered sympathetically and proper care of Elders may please be taken.
Annexure showing Action required to be taken on various Paras of NPOP,99 by all Government Departments/Public Sector/Big Business Houses etc, as advised to Railway Department by Ministry of S.J. & E. :-
v) Para 42 & 43: To issue instructional/guidance/nutritional material on self care of retired employees.
vi) Para 44 & 45: To issue instructions to promote healthy ageing amongst the retired staff. To issue instructions to treat their retired elders properly and to educate them for healthy ageing and to provide facilities of yoga, meditation etc. There should be proper education programmes for retired staff and they should be taken on Advisory Committees to bring out difficulties faced by them in getting treatment, keeping in view the spirit of NPOP, 99. Repeated orientation training and instructions to treat retired staff with respect by Doctors and staff are necessary.
vii) Para 68: a) To persuade Railways to give 50% concession to all Senior Citizens, as by Air & State Road Transport without distinguishing between Gents & Ladies.
b) No quota is fixed for reservation for Senior Citizens in any of the trains, though large quotas are fixed for ladies, handicaps, military & VIPs. Senior Citizens above 70-75 are more vulnerable than handicaps and ladies.
c) In suburban trains also, not only some compartments but entire trains are reserved for ladies but Senior Citizens are denied a small separate coach, as given to handicaps. With the deteriorating health condition, when they are required to go to doctors, consultants, Hospitals etc in the morning for pathological tests, they are facing hardships and as such, they should be provided separate coach or permitted to go in coaches/trains reserved for ladies & handicaps.
d) Railways are having large number of Holiday Homes, Rest Houses,
viii) Para 70: Railways are having a big Publicity Department but no instructions are issued by Ministry to Railways to highlight the issues pertaining to their retired staff every year on 1st October and call them on that occasion for Get-Together and meeting each other and know about their problems etc. Existing Welfare Branches at Ministry as well as local levels can be instructed to do needful, as envisaged in various Paras of the Policy.
xi) Para 78 & 79: Railway work is specialized one and retired staff is well trained to tackle various works efficiently. Railways need trained staff in different circumstances and also during vacation period, there is lot of absenteeism. Retired staff should be engaged freely. Instructions should be issued by Ministry of Railways to utilize capable retired staff and enrich & update their knowledge.