Deocharan Manjhi, an old man in a village in Jharkhand struggles to survive but his struggle isn’t so much as physical, as much as fighting for a dignified survival. It has been many years since Manjhi has been unsuccessful in applying for the old age Pension Scheme to get his rightful pension under the National Old Age Pension Scheme due to corrupt and apathetic officials in his remote village of Kundgari. In his attempts to get a pension, he has even tried bribing almost everyone in his village, in hope that someone may be able to help him get the pension of Rs. 200 per month. “I have paid a lot of money as bribes to the Block Development officer, ward member and even random people in the villages. But now I feel defeated,” confesses the dejected Manjhi to Video Volunteers’ Jharkhand correspondent, Anita Oraon.
Around 50 more elders from his village, all of whom belong to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, are fighting a similar battle for dignified survival, but the hope is failing soon. “After bribing also, I do not get a pension, nor ration. How will we live without support? At this age also, I work for other people to run my household,” says Budhain, also a resident of Kundagri. With no other means of survival, she and many of the elders of the village are forced to make ends meet by undertaking some form of work like.
The 100 million elderly in India make up for 8% of the country’s population currently; by 2021, the elderly are estimated to represent around 12% of the country’s population. Many case studies prove these pension schemes act as a lifeline to the poor, even though the Central government only provides Rs. 200 per month ( $ 3 per month), a sum which hasn’t been revised since 1998. Further, studies show that pension benefits reached about 23 million individuals in 2014. However, elderly in the country constitute about 100 million people, implying that pension benefits reached only a quarter of the population.
Therefore, even with the pension, the elders of India can’t afford to rest. Weakened by poverty, and left behind by a migrating younger generation and a neglectful government, the elders like Deocharan are left to defend themselves. Almost 39% of the aged in are still working as part of the country’s workforce, mostly as marginal workers in physically demanding jobs.
Help Deocharan and the other elders of Kundgari village, Jharkhand get pension and ration. Join their fight against corruption and inequality. Call the district’s Circle Officer Sheela Kumari on +91-9931150477 and demand the elders right to their pension.
This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Anita Oraon.
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.
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