New Delhi, 21 January 2014: Taking forward the Public Hearing/ Jansunwai on destitution among the elderly that was held on January 17th and participated by 300 elderly and members from marginalized communities from 18 states, the Pension Parishad met with all the political parties on the next day to present a petition that emerged from the Public Hearing. The government and most political parties, having shown continued interest in the issues and concerns of the elderly that the Pension Parishad has been trying to bring attention to for the past year and a half, failed to participate in the Jan Sunvai.
The Petition submitted by the Parishad urged all political parties to include this issue in their manifesto for election 2014. Delegations of 10 people each comprising representatives of Pension Parishad from different states and elderly went to meet a string of political parties- Rastravadi Congress Party, Bahujan Samajavadi Party, CPM, Samajavadi party, CPI, AAP, Janta Dal United, Rastriya Janta Dal, Indian National Congress and Trinamool congress. The General Secretary of CPI met and heard the delegation, assuring that his party will raise this issue in the parliament. Similarly Shri Sharad Yadav, National President JDU with whom the delegation met, assured to take the matter up with Union Minister Shri Jai Ram Ramesh. Delegations to other parties could not meet with such senior leaders even though they all submitted the petition with all the parties mentioned above.
Pension Parishad has raised the issue of enhanced and universal pension entitlements that would save large numbers of elderly and otherwise marginalized members of the Indian workforce from penury and destitution in their old age. As of now, there are yawning discrepancies in how various pension schemes have been formulated and are being implemented. Each state has its own pension scheme. Most of them release pension amount on quarterly basis. Eligibility criteria and requirement to access the schemes are not only uneven but seldom also user centric. There is no mechanism for grievance redress.
Pension Parishad resolves to make pension entitlements an election issue and demands the inclusion of the following clauses in the manifestos of all political parties:
· Pension must be universalised with exclusions.
· Pension amount must be 50% of the minimum wage or Rs.2000 per month whichever is more
· Pension must be indexed to inflation.