Senior citizens from across the country on Sunday gathered in New Delhi to protest against meagre contribution from the central government to their monthly pension, which they say has been stagnant for over 11 years now. Nearly 10,000 people from over 16 states marched to Parliament during the rally organised under the banner of NGO HelpAge India and Pension Parishad.
The budgetary allocation for the National Old Age Pension Scheme has increased from Rs 1,100 crore in 2006 to Rs 6,564 crore in 2018, but the Centre’s contribution of Rs 200 per person every month remains static, PTI reported. Mathew Cherian, the chief executive officer of HelpAge India, said while the Centre gave Rs 200 per month, the state governments contributed in the range of Rs 200 in Bihar to Rs 1,800 in Goa, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
“Out of our GDP, the central government is spending 0.04% on this pension scheme,” Pension Parishad coordinator Nikhil Dey told The Hindu. “And whether you look at BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] countries or even poorer developing countries like Nepal or Bolivia, India is far below them on this standard.”
Dey told PTI that the protestors want 50% of the minimum wages to be given as pension amount, which would be nearly Rs 2,500 per person every month, and linked to inflation.
Economist Prabhat Patnaik said a pension was considered a favour to the senior citizens in the country. “Pension should be made universal and non-contributory. It is a rightful violation of the Constitution,” Patnaik told The Tribune. “Adequate old age pension is a right, an economic right and the government can easily afford universal pension for the elderly that will cost not more than 2% of the GDP.”