Junior trade union minister refuses to increase the poor pension under the NSAP



Sulochana Behera eagerly awaits her monthly retirement pension of Rs 500 at her home in the village of Garh Nipania in Puri district, Odisha.

Within a few hours of receiving the sum, the widowed Sulochana spends everything on medicines and food that barely lasts a week. Then she starts counting the days for the next payment.

When it comes to clothing, she depends on the earnings of her grandson Anil, a day laborer.

The Dalit family has no land or other regular sources of income. Sulochana’s son Bansidhar died three years ago. Her daughter-in-law Lata receives a widow’s pension of 500 rupees a month, and this too is spent in a few hours.

Anil’s wife Pratima said the family was forever in debt. “We have two elderly people at home. They can no longer work and get sick regularly, ”she said.

“The monthly pension of 500 rupees is too little to help each of them cope with their expenses for even a week. The pensions are to be increased. “

However, such hopes were dashed in parliament this month by Junior Rural Development Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.

Basanta Kumar Panda, a member of the BJP Lok Sabha, asked if the center could double the pensions paid out under its National Welfare Program (NSAP).

“No sir. There is no such proposal to double the amount under the NSAP,” Jyoti said in a written reply on August 3rd.

Nikhil Dey, national convener of Pension Parishad, a civil society organization, described the government statement in parliament as “callous”.

Nepal, Bolivia and Botswana – with economies much smaller than India’s – offer their senior citizens better social security pensions relative to GDP.

While India spends 0.04 percent of its GDP on social security, Nepal, Bolivia and Botswana spend 0.7 percent, 1.3 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

The NSAP has three sub-schemes. Indira Gandhi’s national old-age pension system provides a monthly pension of 200 rupees for people aged 60 to 79 who live below the poverty line.

The Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme provides a monthly pension of Rs 300 for adults with a disability level of 80 percent or greater. The Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme provides a monthly pension of Rs.300 for widows over 40 years of age.

As soon as a beneficiary reaches the age of 80, he or she will receive 500 rupees per month.

Several states are increasing the pension from their own resources. The Odisha government gives Sulochana and Lata additional monthly sums of Rs 300 and Rs 200 respectively, increasing their pensions to Rs 500 each.

Sulochana claims that she is 83 years old and entitled to 700 rupees a month – 500 rupees under the central system and Odisha’s 200 rupee supplement for eighty-year-olds. She says her age must have been incorrectly stated on the system’s records. Lata is in her 50s.

Pension Parishad called for social pensions to be raised to half the state minimum wage as part of the central program, with inflation indexation.

“Covid has devastated the elderly. There was no relief or concern for her. The centre’s monthly pension of Rs 200 or Rs 300 has been unchanged since 2007, ”said Dey, the Parishad’s convener.

“Imagine if the center gave its employees 28 percent care allowance this year and did not take care of the elderly. It shows callousness, cruelty and selfishness at the expense of the weakest in the nation. “

Almost 3.39 billion elderly people receive a social security pension under the National Welfare Program. Dey said the old age pension system should include vulnerable older people living above the poverty line.

Sulochana’s family lives in a thatched house. You applied for an apartment in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana two years ago and are on the waiting list.

“I know how to use a sewing machine, but we don’t have the money to buy one,” said Pratima.



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