The Indian Government’s National Pension System is an on going saga of another ineffective government policy. One example is Pramila Devi in Ahimachak village, Katihar district, Bihar who is not receiving her right to old age pension. VV PACS Community Correspondent Navita Devi interviews the 70 year old pensioner to understand the whyPramila has never received her entitled pension. Navita explains how she filled her forms with all necessary documentation to no avail. If we look at the government website on how to access The National Pension Schemethe applicant has to submit two copies of application in a prescribed format along with photographs, BPL certificate, age certificate and proof of residence to the Block office. The applicant should obtain receipt for the application submitted which would be helpful in availing the information regarding the progress of the application. The Sub Divisional Officer provides information on the status of approval of application within a specified period. After approval, the Approval Order is sent to the Post Office where a savings account is opened in the name of the beneficiary for making the payments. The prescribed amount of pension is deposited in the account of the beneficiary. In case of rejection of application, the applicant is duly informed. Now in the case of Pramila Devi having fulfilled all criteria she has not heard back from the Sub Divisional Officer. She is at loss at what to do. Added to this 65 Ahimachakvillagers of the Dalit caste state that their pension has been halted for the last ten months for which they say is due to caste discrimination. Having enquired to the Village Head to find out why thisbenefit has been cut, the response was that hehas not received their pension from the government as of yet. The villagers have no idea why there pension was stopped abruptly 10 months ago, and given their lack of understanding, education and status were unaware and unable to ask for any assistance in the matter. The only thing they knew to do was to give bribes to touts who promised to rectify the issue. Given that most Government offices are in partnership with touts they expect the elderly to submit their applications directly through them, and not independently. This incurs the elderly more bribes. Not receiving pensions on time is also another issue. Pensioners feel too frightened to complain to the authorities regarding this, fearful that their pension will be stopped altogether. Even postmen who deliver the pensions deduct 20 INR to 40 INR as commission before giving the pension to the beneficiaries. The government of India is meant to run three programmes for giving pension to old people, handicapped and widows. According to the 2011 Census there are an estimated 10 crore people aged 60 years or above in. A NSSO report of 2006 states that over 30% male elderly and 72% of women depend on their children or neighbours to survive.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. According to Bihar government website: Under the Scheme, a monthly pension of at least 300 INR is provided to all older persons (male or female) above the age between 60-79 years, belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families. During the financial year 2011-2012 Government of India has decided to provide a monthly pension of 500 INR to older persons who are at the age of 80 years or above.Whatever be the case, the average monthly expenditure over the whole 60 plus population is an abysmal 124 INR per capita. There are countless stories on http://pensionparishad.org/kallu-chaudhry-2/ which talk about all the old age pension benefit problems that people face with specific examples from the Katihar district of Bihar. Please call: The Block Development Officer, Jorha Block, Katihar District, Bihar, Tel: 9431818330. To put pressure on the Village Head to explain why 65 people are not receiving there pensions. About the Partnership: The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme and Video Volunteers have come together to create the Community Correspondents Network. The videos generated by the network will be able to highlight voices from the margins, providing skills to social communicators to provide advocacy tools to community based organisations.
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