|Introduction: Contextual introduction.|
Body: Explain why there is need of near-universal pensions for elderly people. Also write some government initiatives in this regard.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.
According to the World Health Organization, India’s elderly population will rise from its current 60 million to over 227 million by 2050. Accordingly, the old-age dependency ratio will rise from 9.8 to 20.3. An increase in our elderly population and rising pressure on pension systems can offset many of the government efforts.
Need of near-universal pensions for elderly people:
- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is restricted to below poverty line (BPL) families, based on outdated and unreliable BPL lists, huge exclusion errors in the BPL lists.
- Central contribution to old-age pensions has stagnated at a tiny 200 Rs per month since 2006, with a slightly higher but still paltry amount (Rs 300 per month) for widows.
- Targeting tends to be based on household rather than individual indicators.
- Eligible persons who had been left out of pension schemes were found to be much poorer than the pension recipients.
- Universalisation strengthens the moral-politico claim and the delivery of the public good or service.
- Present entitlements don’t support lowest official poverty line consumption levels of Rs 27 in rural and Rs 33 in urban per day as per the Tendulkar committee.
- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP): non-contributory pensions for the elderly, widowed women and disabled persons.
- National Policy for Older Persons: To encourage individuals to make provisions for their own and their spouse during old age.
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) – The scheme provides an old-age pension for persons above the age of 60 years and belongs to the BPL category.
- Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) – The scheme provides Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices for Senior citizens belonging to the BPL category.
- Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana – The scheme aims to provide social security during old age. It also protects elderly persons aged 60 and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
- Senior care Ageing Growth Engine (SAGE) Initiative and SAGE portal– It aims to help startups interested in providing services for elderly care.
The need of the hour is to strengthen our pension systems through better funding and coverage. For that, the government has to allocate a special budget for the elderly population.