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.
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).
PENSION PARISHAD DEMANDS
•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.
•Individuals whose income is higher than the threshold level for payment of income tax should be excluded from being eligible for the pension.
More Evidence on the need for Old-Age Pension, http://www.im4change.org/news-alerts/more-evidence-on-the-
Social Protection Index: Assessing Results for Asia and the Pacific (2013), ADB, http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2013/social-pro
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, http://www.im4change.org/latest-news-updates/pension-schem
India lags South Asian peers in protecting poor, The Economic Times, 4 July, 2013, http://www.im4change.org/latest-news-updates/india-lags-so