Sitapur district, UP
That Balak Ram at 60, is not getting any social security from the state government is not a shock. What is shocking is that he had to pay Rs 500 to village pradhan to get enrolled in the government’s social assistance program. Since he did not have money, he got Rs 500 deducted from his wages while working at pradhan’s place.
However, nothing has moved so far. It shows state of affairs in UP, among the worst performers in all developmental parameters in the country. Ram from Alipur village in UP’s Sitapur district has applied for pension three times but he is being denied it on the ground that his monthly earnings exceed the maximum to qualify him for the scheme.
“They do not forward my papers. Pradhan says you are earning more.” Ram works as much as possible – as agricultural labourer and in government’s employment guarantee scheme. As agricultural labourer, he earns Rs 100 a day and under NREGA he gets around Rs 142 in a day. He has only one bigha of land. The produce lasts him only three-four months. He buys essentials like onion, vegetables, potato etc from the market. However, he does not get to earn everyday and, in all manages around Rs 1500 in a month.
Ram lives with his wife and ten-year-old daughter. “We survive on whatever little we can afford. At times we end up sleeping empty stomach,” he says. His wife also works to earn living. Of late, he has realized that he can not work much since he is growing old and does not have that kind of stamina. Some people are getting Rs 300 per month as old-age pension in his village.
If any of the husband and wife falls sick, they end up spending on medicines while their income further falls.