Senior citizens/ Elders: India
This is a collection of newspaper articles selected for the excellence of their content.
Definition of senior citizen/ 2017
Govt To Replace 20-Year-Old Elders' Policy
The Centre unveiled its plan in the Supreme Court to replace a nearly two-decade old `national policy on older persons' with new norms that will keep the age uniform across sectors for persons to be counted as senior citizens to avail benefits under the government's social welfare schemes.
At present, the insurance sector recognises persons over 65 years as senior citizens, the railways offers con cessional tickets to men above 60 years and women over 58 years, income tax exemptions apply differently to persons over 60 years and 80 years, and old age pension is given at the rate of Rs 200 per month to those over 60 years and Rs 500 to those above 80 years.
Responding to a petition by former law minister Ashwani Kumar for all-round ameliorative measures for senior citi zens, additional solicitor general Pinky Anand informed a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Abdul Nazeer that “as per departmental action plan on recommendations of group of secretaries, uniform adoption of age criteria for benefits to senior citizens (airlines, state governments, insurance companies, etc) is under consideration“.
“The ministry of social justice and empowerment is in the process of suitably revising the National Policy on Older Persons, 1999, keeping in view the changing demographic pattern, socio-economic needs of senior citizens, social value system and advancement in the field of science and technology over the last decade and bringing out a National Policy for Senior Citizens,“ Anand said.
Importantly , the Centre said it was working on a mechanism to regulate home care services for elderly being offered by various private firms.“Rating of organizations providing home care services is under consideration, as is the creation of regulatory mechanism to prescribe standards for establishing and providing quality services for senior ci tizens. The rating of facilities provided by home care services to senior citizens would enable them to make informed choices,“ she said.
Kumar alleged that successive governments have been planning and formulating schemes but nothing has reached the needy , who in the sunset years were leading a life in abject neglect and suffering.“There are not even enough old age homes in the states,“ he said. The bench sought a status report on number of old age homes in states from the Centre and states.
The Centre said it was giving pension to over 55.5 lakh retired central government employees to help them lead a life with dignity . It said retired defence personnel constituted the bulk of them at 25 lakh, number of retired railways pensioners stood at 14.34 lakh, while retired civil pensioners were over 10.18 lakh.
Amicus curiae, NGO “Helpage India“, requested the court to direct the Centre to increase the monthly old age pension from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000 as the present pension mocked the dignity of senior citizens. It said the increase could cost the government Rs 91,776 crore annually.
“There needs to be at least one old age home in each of the 707 districts to be able to house 1,06,050 older indigent persons. But, according to a WHO study , there will be 3,53,500 older indigent persons requiring high-level care and this will require at least four old age homes per district,“ it said.
Benefits mandated by the government
The finance minister proposed to extend the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana till March 2020 under which an assured return of 8% is given by the Life Insurance Corporation of India. The existing limit on investment of Rs 7.5 lakh was doubled to Rs 15 lakh. At a time when fixed deposit returns are around 7%, this will help senior citizens get higher interest rates.
Opening a bag of goodies, the finance minister raised the exemption limit on income from interestby five timestoRs 50,000 per year. No TDS will be deducted from the interest income of senior citizens. Arun Jaitley also increased the limit of deduction for health insurance premium and medical expenditure to Rs 50,000 from Rs 30,000 under Section 80D. This additional deduction of Rs 20,000 will help a taxpayer save uptoRs6,000per annum.
The FM raised the limit of deduction for medicalexpenditure in respect of certain critical illnesses to Rs 1 lakh for all senior citizens, under Section 80DDB. Earlier, thislimitstood at Rs 60,000 for senior citizens and Rs 80,000 for very senior citizens. The concessions will cost the government Rs 4,000crore.
The assessee will need to furnish a medical prescription to avail of these benefits. The tax benefits can also be claimed by those who incur expenditure for buying health insurancepolicies, or spend on medical treatment of dependent senior citizens.
Budget 2018 (details)
Hike in tax exemption limits will raise savings and enable better health insurance coverage
With no significant gains for the salaried class and the higher income taxpayer reeling from the additional tax burden, the only section of the society that seems to be rejoicing is senior citizens. The Finance Minister has offered a bouquet of benefits for the retired people who constitute nearly 9% of the total population. The tax benefits are twopronged, impacting their tax savings and health protection.
In a welcome move, the tax exemption limit on interest income from bank savings deposits and post office schemes has been raised to ₹50,000 from the existing ₹10,000. It now also covers the interest income from fixed deposits and recurring deposits. This means that no tax will have to be deducted at source (TDS) on such income under Section 194A.
Given that post office schemes and fixed deposits comprise a big chunk of senior citizens’ retiral corpus, this will result in a significant rise in their savings if their income falls in the taxable bracket. It also implies that senior citizens who do not have a taxable income will not have to furnish Form 15H if they do not want tax deducted at source.
Delhi-based chartered accountant H.C. Sogani, 66, who has a high amount in fixed deposits, is visibly excited. Among his Budget wishlist was a demand to raise the exemption limit on interest income and expand the scope to fixed deposits and recurring deposits. “My wish has been fulfilled by the Finance Minister, but I was hoping the basic exemption limit too would be raised to ₹3.5 lakh,” he says.
He is also happy about the increase in the investment limit of the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, which has been doubled to ₹15 lakh from the existing limit of ₹7.5 lakh. “I will now invest a minimum of ₹10 lakh in the scheme,” says Sogani.
The LIC scheme, for seniors above 60 years of age, was started in 2017 for one year, but has now been extended to March 2020. It offers an assured return of 8% for 10 years and is an attractive option for senior citizens despite it being taxed at maturity. Given that the Senior Citizen’s Savings Scheme is the only other plan that, at 8.3%, offers a return of over 8%, it a good option to invest in for the seniors who do not fall in the taxable bracket.
In another beneficial step, the government has raised the deduction limit on health insurance premium to ₹50,000 from the existing ₹30,000 for senior citizens under Section 80D. In addition, the deduction of medical expenditure for specific critical illness, from ₹60,000 for senior citizens and ₹80,000 for very senior citizens, has been raised to ₹1 lakh for all senior citizens, under Section 80DDB.
“Medical inflation is at 13-15%. The enhanced deduction of ₹50,000 and additional critical illness exemption will incentivise senior citizens to get sufficient medical insurance coverage to tackle the growing medical expense burden,” says Ashish Mehrotra, MD & CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance.
This is one benefit that may also accrue to those below 60 years if they are paying the health insurance premium for their parents. Take Mumbai-based Purvesh Mehta, 38, who is paying a combined premium of ₹50,000 for his parents and his own family. “It is a good initiative and will definitely help me with my tax savings,” he says.
It will also be an incentive for people like Mehta to buy bigger health plans for their parents since the extremely high premiums for senior citizens have been a deterrent till now.
Adds Sanjeev Mantri, Executive Director, ICICI Lombard: “We expected a much higher increase of ₹1 lakh for senior citizens and ₹75,000 for those below 60 years. Given that the government has initiated the national health scheme for 10 crore families, it could have raised these limits too.”
Harassed parent can evict child from any type of property
A parent facing ill-treatment/harassment can seek eviction of his children and legal heirs from any type of property under the law that protects senior citizens, the Delhi high court said.
In an important ruling, Justice Vibhu Bakhru said the nature of property is not relevant when it comes to a parent who is being ill-treated by children.
HC interpreted the amended Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules, 2017 where the term “self-acquired property” has been deleted from the law. The court said this means that the rule “permits a citizen/parent to make an application for eviction of his son, daughter and legal heir from the property of any kind, whether movable or immovable, ancestral or self-acquired and tangible or intangible.”
The court’s observations came while hearing the plea of a son challenging an order of eviction passed by the divisional commissioner, who is empowered under the senior citizens’ maintenance and welfare act to protect parents.
The rules enable a senior citizen to make an application for eviction of a son, daughter or legal heir on account of non-maintenance and illtreatment. In his order, the commissioner concluded that the father was being harassed and illtreated and “the ends of justice would be met” if the son is evicted from the premises.
While the son had questioned how the divisional commissioner can evict him from a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) property where he has a built-in share, the court found “ample material on record to indicate that the father was distressed by the conduct of the petitioner (son) and his wife.”
In his plea, the son also underlined that in 2014, the Maintenance Tribunal threw out the father’s case on the ground that it is a disputed property, arguing that he couldn’t have approached the commissioner after that as a suit is pending in trial court. But the father insisted it is a self-acquired property.
HC, however, rubbished the argument and found the son’s claim of it being an HUF to be a “ruse” since the property was bought by the father even before the birth of the son.
“The divisional commissioner found that there was no material that would establish the petitioner’s case that the property in question is an HUF property. Merely claiming that the property in question had been purchased by sale of ancestral property can be of little assistance to the petitioner,” HC pointed out, while upholding the order to evict the son from a house on G T Karnal Road.
HC also took into account that for almost eight years, since 2010, the father had been making complaints to the police and other authorities against his son and daughter-in-law, accusing them of harassment and ill-treatment. On one occasion, the son threatened him with dire consequences when he requested the couple to vacate his premises, adding that the son even tried to commit suicide by sprinkling kerosene oil on himself.
Rejecting another argument of the son that the commissioner could not have granted such relief since he is not paying maintenance to his father, HC highlighted that the law refers to both the expressions “non-maintenance” and “ill-treatment”.
Limitations on mobility/ Confinement of elders to home
As in 2016
The Times of India, Apr 18 2016
34% of 80-yr-olds in villages and 27% in cities confined to homes
About 8.4% of people aged 60 and above in villages and 7% in cities and towns are either confined to their home or bed and the incidence is higher for women , a government health survey has found.
The survey underlines the dependency of older people on assistance and limitations on their mobility as the percentage of home-bound elders rises to 27% in urban and 34% in rural areas in the 80-plus age group.
The ability to get around is an important indicator of the physical condition and overall health of older persons. A large proportion of the elderly are also economically dependent on others for their livelihood. The NSSO survey found that around 52% of the aged in rural and 51% in urban had to depend on others for their day-to-day needs.
The dependence was very high for elderly women. About 90% of aged women in rural and 87% in urban areas were economically dependent either partially or fully . The problem points to the possibility that many were not formally employed and lacked retirement planning or even options. It was found that 43% of men in rural and 52% in urban areas were economically independent in terms of their livelihoods.
Most of the economically dependent aged people -82% in rural and 80% in urban areas -depended on their children for financial support while a sizeable proportion (11% in rural and 15% in urban areas) depended on spouses. A small proportion -5% in urban and 7% in rural areas -were supported by their grandchildren or `others' which includes non-relatives.
The survey found very few elderly lived alone in India. The figure was only 4% in both rural and urban areas. About 61% of the aged in rural and 63% in urban areas lived with spouses. Some 35% in rural and 33% in urban areas lived without spouses but with children or other relatives. The survey found that the percentage of elderly was 7.7% in rural areas and 8.1% in urban areas.
The sex-ratio among aged persons of 60 years and more was 1035 in rural India and 1029 in urban areas, indicating a higher life expectancy for women.
Old Age Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National -
2006> The position in 2018
On the eve of world elderly day observed on October 1, a report on the “State of Pensions in India” highlights how the Centre’s contribution under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) in the below poverty line category has remained unchanged at Rs 200 per month for over 10 years. The contribution of many states to the scheme too remains abysmally low.
As per the report brought out by Pension Parishad with support from HelpAge India, pension for the elderly in Manipur is Rs 200. The maximum pension (including central and state contribution) is Rs 2,000 in states and Union Territories like Kerala, Delhi, Goa, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In nine states pension is between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 and in another nine it is Rs 1,000.
Data has been drawn from affidavits filed by states in the SC in an ongoing PIL on pensions and dignified living for elderly. It comes through that the state contribution to the social pension scheme varies widely and many states are running their own schemes since pension is a concurrent list subject. Demanding their right to dignity, the elderly from different states will gather at Parliament Street on Sunday to share their experiences and demand universal pension coverage, pension at half the minimum wage and indexing pensions to inflation. HelpAge India chief executive Mathew Cherian also draws attention to the growing elderly population. The National Population Commission has estimated that India’s population of the elderly in the age group of 60 years and above is expected to grow from 71 million in 2001 to 173 million in 2026.
“IGNOAPS is for older persons of 60 years and above from BPL households. The contribution of the central government remains at Rs 200 per month, for those between 60 to 79 years, since 2007,” Cherian has pointed out in the report. The budgetary allocation for the scheme was Rs 1,100 crore in 2006 which in the current year has increased to Rs 6,564 crore, as per 2018-19 budget estimates, says the report. Those aged 80 and above get Rs 500 from the Centre.
“The National Social Assistance Programme guidelines explicitly state that the central and state contribution should equally match to ensure a decent pension amount to the beneficiaries,” according to the report. “Old age pension of Rs 200 per month from Centre reaches 22.318 million people (government data on BPL). It is estimated that 93% of the workforce comes under “unorganised” sector employees, but majority of them are not covered under any scheme,” Cherian said. Download The Times of India News App for Latest India News.
Problems with children
Elder Abuse in India, 2013
The Times of India 2013/06/15
Elderly have much to fear from their children TIMES NEWS NETWORK
New Delhi: Almost one-fifth of elders surveyed in Delhi have complained of abuse, says the latest data released by an NGO. The capital has the third highest rate of abuse after Hyderabad and Kolkata among five Tier-I cities that were surveyed.
TheHelpAgeIndia report‘Elder Abuse in India 2013’ that has covered 6,748 elders across 24 cities also found another unique trend in Delhi. While nationally, the daughter-in-law was found to be the primary perpetrator of abuse, in Delhi it was the son followed by daughter-in-law. More than one fifth of the total respondents nationally said that they had faced abuse by caregivers or family members.
The nature of abuse ranged from disrespect to severe physical abuse. B R Sahni (82) for instance who attended the report launch was one of the thousands who complained to being beaten and slapped by his son.
“This report reveals the reality of elders in India. I moved to an old age home 4 years ago after being physically abused by my children. They said they couldn’t bear the costs of taking care of me. But I am very happy today at the ashram where I live. Not all elders get a shelter like I have,” he said.
Nationally, the highest number of abuse cases were seen in Madurai (63%) followed by Kanpur (60%). Among those who were abused over 16% from Rajasthan and 13% from Andhra Pradeshsaidthey were physically abused. Among Tier- II cities that were covered, Chennai had the lowest (9.64%) and Hyderabad had the highest (37.50%) cases of abuse.
The major reasons cited by the elderly for abuse were ‘lack of adjustment,’ ‘economic dependence of the abused,’ ‘increasing longevity’ and even ‘economic dependence of abuser.’ Most of the respondents (70%) did not report the abuse. Most felt that such family matters should be felt confidential and many feared retaliation.
Prominent jurist and India’s first woman judge, Leila Seth (82) also addressed the elders about the importance of not transferring property ownership before death. “I had thought of transferring the house in my daughter’s name. But a close lawyer friend had advised me not to do so. Today most elderly are abused because of property related issues,” Seth said.