India is young! But its population of elderly is growing rapidly and seniors today are seeking help to live in dignity and die in dignity! The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy taking away the very little they have at the bottom of the pyramid of the good life!
THAT’S all it is these days – good days will come tomorrow, in 2025, if not 2025 in 2045 or 2050. Just wait! I will of course be gone with the wind by the time this raj sarkar’s happy amrit kaal days arrive! But for the time being I would like to support the honourable MP Jaya Bachan who raised all these issues of our growing senior population; is the government of Bharat and/or India going to treat them as a vital vote bank on one hand and on the other hand make their lives more and more impoverished and miserable despite all the tall talk! It’s one long roll-call of promises, false promises with glimpses of silver in the clouds of growing old and older and more vulnerable as all kinds of illnesses take over body beautiful.
I quote Jaya Bhachan here and wonder if all of it is true, but being a senior citizen myself my mind too echoes with her concerns although she is melodramatic if anything. Maybe sometimes you have to be melodramatic to be heard above the cacophony of artificial, synthetic, trivial, fake concerns in governance today from the top down. Very little percolates down to make the working class at the bottom of the good life smile with any pleasure or joy! Observes one of our most fiery and sarcastic parliamentarians, MP Jaya Bachchan:
“Kill senior citizens. Government should kill all senior citizens after the age of 65 because government is not ready to pay attention to these nation builders. Is it a crime to be a senior citizen in India? Senior citizens of India are not eligible for medical insurance after 70 years, they do not get loan on EMI. Driving license is not issued. They are not given any work, hence they depend on others for survival. They had paid all the taxes, insurance, premiums up to the age of retirement ie.60-65.
“Now even after becoming senior citizens, they have pay all the taxes. There is no scheme for senior citizens in India. 50% discount on railways/air travel, has also been discontinued. The other side of the picture is that senior citizens in politics, MLA, MP or Minister, are given every possible benefit and they also get pensions. I fail to understand why all others (except some government employees)are denied the same facilities. Imagine, if the children are not caring about them, where will they go. If the elders of the country go against the government in elections, it will affect the election results. Government will have to face the consequences…
“Seniors have the power to change the government, don’t ignore them. They have the life long experience to change the government. Don’t consider them weak! So many schemes re required for the benefits of seniors, the government spends a lot of money on welfare schemes, but never realizes about senior citizens. On the contrary, the income of senior citizens is decreasing due to reduction in interest rates of banks. If some of them are getting a meagre pension to support the family and self, it is also subject to income tax. So senior citizens should be considered for some benefits:
1) All citizens above 60 must be given pension.
2) Everybody must be given pension as per status.
3) Concession in railway, bus and air travel.
4) Insurance should be must for all up to the last breath and premium must be paid by the government.
5) Court cases of senior citizens must be given priority for early decision.
6) Senior citizens homes in every city with all facilities.
7) Government should amend the rule of scrapping 10-15 years old used cars. This rule should be applied only for commercial vehicles. Our cars are purchased on loan and our uses are only 40 to 50,000 km in 10 years. Our cars are as good as new one. If our cars are scrapped, then we must be given new cars.
“I request all senior citizens and youth to share it on all social media. Let’s hope that this government, who is sincere all the time and talks of `Sab ka sath, sab ka vikas’ will do some for the betterment of those who have contributed in nation building and are now past their prime.”
WELL, well said, Jaya-ji and I endorse all you say. Senior citizens first, please. Today, in home after home you will see the youngest gets priority and not the eldest as it used to be in my growing up years in a fairly large family. Governments make pretence of honouring senior citizens for the same achievements year after year and the same seniors get shawls, brass lamps, cash, etc! They have no ordinary senior citizens on government honour lists for benefits of the useful kind, to sweeten their challenges and travails of growing old and older…seniors without children are by far the worst off. Now we hear local police station staff visiting seniors at home but most of us fear the police, even if they come to hello with a few sweets – gifts of the useless kind if you’re asking me, most seniors like me are not interested in being fed sweets!
MANY seniors are poor either because they forgot to save or to make money for the future when they could have done it, and when age catches up with them they are in need of basic sustenance and welfare schemes; some need shelter too but not of the highly expensive kind…say thoughtfully-designed integrated living hostels where they don’t have to fend for themselves vis-à-vis simple meals or domestic chores they can’t cope with.
It was the famous French writer Simone de Beauvoir I think who spoke of women who are expected to do domestic chores till they drop dead on doomsday! Domestic chores, she compares, are akin to the Greek myth of Sisyphus (in Homer’s “Illiad”) where one is fated to roll the rock of life uphill all the time in vain, stop and the stone will crush you to earth…interesting analogy. Only women will understand this and not men who neither learn to cook or keep house or bring up children in our predominantly male chauvinist countries. Simone de Beauvoir observed, “The myth is in large part explained by its usefulness to man. The myth of woman is a luxury” or something like that, go check it out if you’re further interested. Simone de Beauvoir believed that mystery belongs to the slave in the privileged classes who dominated over the lower strata of society…how much has changed in society with education to date, you tell me!
All around me today I see unhappy and sad seniors, mostly women trying to stay alive and entertain a few joys…some have children and grandchildren who come and go; many are treated to living in a plethora of expensive homes for seniors, but here I have seen how seniors tire of eating well but no quality of life other than bhajan and yoga sessions if they are interested. Most seniors keep waiting for their children to visit or come and take them to their homes for a special event like a marriage or deepavali or some other festive occasion where the presence of seniors is desirable or there will be too many tiresome questions about where they have been away for convenience’s sake.
I see many solo seniors living alone and some are marooned on the top floors of ancient buildings without a lift: they are literally marooned in loneliness and isolation even if a maid may come and go and there are phone in delivery services…as time goes on most stop walking down the stairways to go on an outing to cheer themselves up. They haven’t been out for months and years!
They need services of the ordinary and emergency kind: “Please take me to a hospital on Monday, I have an appointment with doctor.” “Please, I am feeling lonely, can you come and to me for a while?” Or, “I haven’t been able to cook or clean my flat for some days and it is in a terrible state, can anyone come clean it up for me? Cook me something to eat or bring me some food?” “I have run out medicines and my chemist is not responding to calls! Will someone get me my medicines?” Or, “Please, I am in trouble, can you call one of my relatives?” (At least those interested in benefits of the material kind to be gained upon death of a senior will turn up to do the needful!) Some senior with gumption will just say, “Take me to see this film in town or take me for a drive, to have a meal out, it’s my birthday!”
But it is increasingly a case of hello, hello? Is anyone there? This country really doesn’t have any systems in place to take care that its senior citizens live in dignity and without want of anything…instead, whatever they have, may be easily taken away from them! Is this what our mod con driven society is boiling down to – an I-don’t-know, I don’t care society which will only keep backfiring because we are all at different stages of growing old and older!
Visit the homes of some seniors and you will see how badly maintained there, the curtains will be black with grime, the kitchen in a mess, the bedroom stacked with dirty linen…kitchen leaking, lights now working here and there, dim, dusty and in need of light and love of caring. The homes of seniors can be so dangerous and yet the problems of seniors is usually never addressed …many of them are now thinking suicide, euthanasia.
Seniors have so many anxieties, worries, fears, after coping with life for years and years in their younger years, made many sacrifices, living in rentals themselves but making sure their children got their education and whatever they needed to live better material lives than they themselves did! Made sure their children could buy property and live in peace and not in rentals which are such a drain on resources.
And later on you will see children behaving like insensitive, insensible jerks fighting with one another to forge signatures, con a parent in dementia or ill-heal, just to steal whatever is valuable – property, shares, FDs, bank accounts, jewellery, etc! I have seen children who live with their old, ailing parents fudge signatures, frighten a mother or father about what they will do to finish them off…if they don’t do this, that and the other. I have seen adult sons and daughters with no lives of their own to lead go off in the morning and return in the evening, only to ask the maid if mother has eaten, taken her medicines?
I have seen parents suffering from insecurity, fear, semi-dementia or full dementia going crazy below the tyranny of some unmarried daughter or son or daughter-in-law in their final years…there will be arguments about who took care of the parents/surviving parent and who deserves the parental home, property, jewellery, bank accounts, FDs, etc. Parents in dementia and semi-dementia are more vulnerable to abuse by children who are hard-boiled and primarily see their own good life, first and last and I have known of cases where a son has stolen his bed-ridden mother’s bank books and property papers, a daughter who has secretly knocked off names of nominees to fit in their as nominee or owner, children who basically neither love nor affection nor a memory which remembers all the good done to them by their siblings in earlier years. Life for them has become “Raat khatam, baat khatam!” In such cases the court is the only place to seek justice but in our society for all kinds of idiotic reasons we don’t go to court in time for it to matter and sometimes never do …and the criminal or criminals in the family win, the good God alone knows the truth about who suffers here and now all in the name of parents who didn’t imagine their children would turn out to be such bounders.
All this and much more. With the growing population of seniors in this county I think they oftentimes need to be protected from their predatory adult children single, divorced, widowed or whatever the state of their mind set on inheritance rights. Who deserves, who doesn’t is according to me should be seen through the eyes of the victim and not the perpetrator for after all you are human only in so much as you have it in you enough charity and wisdom to be kind – the human animal is the only animal of the species which knows how to inflict cruelty crude or refined, or practice compassion and the charity of forgiveness to earn peace of mind, if nothing else…and parents of course may or may not be easily forgotten once they’ve gone with the wind. Leaving behind their sins of omission and commission if any to analyse and learn from in the best sense of the word!
Thank you Jaya Bachchan, Member of Parliament, for focusing on the plight of seniors in India which is Bharat; if Narendra Modi’s government has any sensitivity and sensibility it would do well to listen to you and make the changes desirable — to earn good karma for a raj government which talks big but hardly ever walks the talk. Not even when it comes to the recently passed Women’s Bill of 2023 with so much fanfare but which is not likely to be implemented till amrit kaal or whatever kaal!
ON that note it’s avjo, selamat datang, poite verem, au revoir, arrivedecci, hasta la vista, vachun yeta here for now! Think about all this and don’t just think.