Skip to main content

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.
Resolving to observe September 28 as the National Action Day on Starvation Death, the public hearing marked the first death anniversary of Simdega’s 11-year-old school girl Santoshi Kumari, who died of hunger. Her family’s ration-card was cancelled as it was not linked to aadhaar. Her last words crying for rice are said to be “bhaat, bhaat”.
It was organized against the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court verdict, which refused to strike down Section 7 of the Act. According to the Right to Food Campaign, this amounted to “refusal to offer any relief to the vulnerable millions who will need to provide the 12-digit biometric number to avail of government subsidies.”
The Right to Food Campaign (RFC) claimed in a statement issued at the public hearing, “Nearly 17 lakh elderly, widows and differently-abled persons in Jharkhand, who qualify for social security pensions, do not receive their entitlement.” 
Citing reasons, it said, “Pension coverage in Jharkhand is not universal. Even those who do receive pensions face chronic selection errors and administrative glitches. In 2016-17, three lakh pensioners were deleted as ‘fake’, though many genuine persons, whose pension accounts were not linked with aadhaar, were also excluded.”
It added, “Persons earning more than Rs 875 a month in rural areas are outside the ambit of these pensions. To be eligible for old age pension, the person has to be at least 60 years old. However, years’ of arduous manual labour makes people incapable of working till that age and they need economic assistance much before.”
Pointing towards cumbersome application procedures, RFC said, “Numerous supporting documents have to be attached with the application form and it often takes years for the applications to move up the various layers of government – Gram Panchayat, Block, District, State and back.”
It further said, “Social security pension amounts are currently a mere Rs 600 a month in Jharkhand (Rs 700 for persons above 80 years of age). This amount is woefully inadequate to meet basic needs of nutrition, health, clothing etc.”, adding, “Pensioners have to often wait for months to receive their pensions, without any idea as to when they will receive their next payment.”
Pointing towards “inconvenient modes of collection”, RFC said, “Collecting pensions is often quite costly and tedious, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities who have little mobility, education and power. Going to the nearest bank and queuing up there for hours can be an absolute ordeal for them. Post offices are closer but corrupt post office employees often expect an inducement.”
The public hearing panelists included Balram (Right to Food Campaign), Shadab Ansari (Human Rights Law Network) and Binny Azad (Ekal Nari Shakti Sanghatam).
The oral and written testimonies presented by the participants sought to throw light on the “havoc” created by pensions. Several of them complained that people who are not identified as below-the-poverty line (BPL) or earn more than a measly Rs 875 a month in rural areas are not eligible for most state social pensions.
Further, it was pointed out, at least five cases of starvation deaths in the last one year alone in Jharkhand can be attributed to the mandatory imposition of aadhaar. In some cases, the pension amount was credited to the wrong account while in others there were aadhaar authentication failures.
The main demands put forward at the hearing were – implementation of universal pensions, removal of mandatory imposition of aadhaar, timely payment without delays, an inflation-indexed increase in the pension amount to at least Rs 2000 per month and reducing the eligibility age, and all political parties must include these demands in their election manifestos.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.