In a far-off village in Bihar’s Rupulia village, Amaris Sada will finally be able to get his cataract surgery done which had been pending for over a year and Dadiji (Grandmother) will finally be able to have one good meal with vegetables. All this is possible because they finally received their year worth social old-age pension arrears after waiting for it over a year. The change was a result of one woman Guddi Kumari, from their village who dedicatedly worked with them and the entire village to speak with the local authorities and demand that their year-long arrears be cleared at the earliest and that these senior citizens start getting their monthly social pension of Rs. 400 ($ 6) per month as under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, a National Social Assistance Scheme .
Guddi was back then a newly recruited Community Correspondent from Bihar, who had made a video on the on-going problems. “We come from really poor backgrounds. Many of these old people have been abandoned by their grown-up children or have to live with their children, who have their own family to take care of. Without the pension, these people are completely helpless in taking care of themselves,” Guddi Kumari explains, whose aging father has experienced these problems first-hand.
“The elders of Rupuliya used to get their pensions earlier, but since the last few months, their pensions had suddenly stopped,” Guddi recalls. The village head and government officials avoided giving any specific answers to the elders when they would enquire. Guddi however, made a video and held community meetings with the entire village twice to educate them about their rights and inspired them to take corrective actions in this matter themselves. It was a long process but when all residents agreed to join Guddi, she went and met the Block Development Officer (BDO), along with her video and a requisition letter for the pensions. “It took three visits over two months to the BDO and a lot of appeal for empathy towards the elders, that finally made them release the pension funds,” Guddi tells us.
Guddi, just like many residents of Rupuliya village, comes from a Below the Poverty Line (BPL) household. Internationally, an income of less than $1.90 per day per head of purchasing power parity is defined as extreme poverty. By this estimate, about 32.7% percent of Indians are extremely poor.
The pension money that the elders of Rupuliya received has ensured that they can buy supply of ration, medicines and clothes for themselves.
According to the 2011 Census there are an estimated 10 crore people aged 60 years or above in. The ministry of rural development says that 2.14 crore elderly people get old age pension which means this reaches only 20% of the elderly population of India.
This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Guddi Kumari.
Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.