Give universal pension for a dignified life

Give universal pension for a dignified life

The Pension Parishad is holding a dharna in Delhi for the rights of elderly since 26 November. It has demanded that a Universal and Non Contributory Old Age Pension System should be established with a minimum dignified amount of monthly pension not less than 50% of minimum wage or Rs 2000/- per month, whichever is higher. Despite several rounds of talk held between the campaign leaders and the Government in the past, the timeline for implementation of universal pension is uncertain. The Parishad is, thus, pressing for universalization of pension during the Winter Session of Parliament.


It is worth noting that the percentage share of elderly population (60 years and above) in India's total population has risen from 6.8 percent in 1991 to 7.4 percent in 2001 and further to 8.6 percent in 2011. The old age Dependency Ratio (i.e. No. of persons in age group 60 years or more divided by No. of persons in age group 15-59 years multiplied by 100) has been steadily increasing during the past three decades viz. 12.0 in 1981, 12.2 in 1991, 13.1 in 2001 and 14.2 in 2011. However, just one-fifth of entire elderly population is covered under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS). The IGNOAPS, which is meant only for those who live below the poverty line (BPL), is laden with corruption and leakages.

The amount of Rs. 200 per month, which persons above 60 years under the IGNOAPS receive, is meager in the backdrop of soaring inflation of 7.0 percent (in Wholesale Price Index). Campaign leaders like Aruna Roy and Baba Adhav, therefore, want monthly pensions under the Universal Pension Scheme to be linked with inflation.

Employment linked pension is received by a miniscule population who are employed in the organized sector. The majority of India's working people who are employed in the unorganized sector neither enjoy employment linked pension nor have enough savings to support them when they grow old. The economic growth which India has experienced in the past has failed to provide social security to the majority in the form of pension.

ADB's 2013 report on Social Protection Index finds that India spent only 1.7 percent of its GDP on Social Protection of the vulnerable in 2009, which is much lower as compared to China (5.4 percent), Sri Lanka (3.2 percent) and Nepal (2.1 percent).


•A Universal and Non Contributory Old Age Pension System to be established immediately by the government with a minimum dignified amount of monthly pension not less than 50% of minimum wage or Rs 2000/- per month, whichever is higher.
•The pension should be an individual entitlement for all eligible citizens of India.
•The monthly pension amount be revised every two to three years and changed every six month based on inflation - in the same manner as is done for salaries of government servants.
•Any individual who is 55 years or older should be eligible for the old age pension.
•For women, eligibility age for pensions should be 50 years.
•For highly vulnerable groups (such as the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, Transgender, Women Compelled to become Sex Workers, PWDs), the eligibility age should be 45 years.
•No one should be forced to compulsorily retire from work on attaining the age of eligibility for universal old age pension.
•A single window system for Old Age Pensions and a separate ministry for issues of the Elderly.

Exclusion Criteria

•Individuals whose income is higher than the threshold level for payment of income tax should be excluded from being eligible for the pension.
•Individuals who are receiving pension from any other sources that exceeds the pension amount under the Universal Old Age Pension Programme.
•APL / BPL criteria should not be used for exclusion.
•The payment of pension should not be used to deny any other social security / welfare benefit such as benefit under the Public Distribution System.


More Evidence on the need for Old-Age Pension,

Social Protection Index: Assessing Results for Asia and the Pacific (2013), ADB,

Pension Parishad to intensify campaign for universal pension-Girija Shivakumar, The Hindu, 29 November, 2013,

Pension scheme for MGNREGS workers, The Hindu, 2 September, 2013,

India lags South Asian peers in protecting poor, The Economic Times, 4 July, 2013,

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