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Be kinder than necessary ~ for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle..
From: Raghavendra Rao Venkatasubbarao <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 7:50 AM
Subject: [sss-global] UNIVERSAL OLD-AGE PENSION PROTEST
To: sss-global <email@example.com>
Ashok Gehlot lends an ear as elderly seek pension
This is the first time that a chief minister had made it to a gathering for a people's movement at Udyog Maidan.
"Arunaji (Aruna Roy) insisted that I come here and so I came along," said Gehlot. "When I was told that thousands of old men and women from across the state have come here, I had to come and meet you all here. And the fact that I am here reflects that I am with you. But I don't want to make false promises. Give me your demands and I assure you that I will have it examined," he said.
Hidden among the much resolved and enthusiastic faces were some who had gone empty stomach for days. Sixty eight-year-old Kamla Bai Mochi of Ajmer has not eaten since long. Deserted by her sons, she and her 72-year-old husband did not have any source of livelihood. Not better off was 56-year-old Heeralal and his wife. With a family of nine and just two bighas of land, food was as rare as the MGNREGA job that the have been applying for.
Talking before the 6,000 strong gathering, Narsi Ram, a visually challenged, made it clear that, "we do not want charity from government. What we are asking is our right to pension in order to live a life of dignity."
The determination of the thousands that had come to the meeting was evident in more ways than one. Nearly 5,000 elderly people have contributed from Rs 20 to Rs 100 to enable 500 people to participate in public meeting. "To meet my travel cost of Rs 3,00, I spent Rs 100 and ten other people from my village contributed Rs 200 and made it possible for me to be in Jaipur," stated Kamala Hukam Singh from Shankargarh.
"We will make this an election issue during the 2013-14 polls. Why have a government at all if it cannot ensure that its people are able to eat and live. The government must declare pension for all those who do not get pension under any organised scheme. It should be at least 50% of the minimum wages of Rs 2,000 whichever is more and it must be linked to the inflation," said Nikhil Dey of the Pension Parishad.
The Parishad, which has organised similar meetings at Chennai and Karnataka, after their five day dharna at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi about eight months back, will now take it to other states. In the city on Monday, the meeting saw politicians from Congress, BJP and the CPI pitch in their support from early morning.
According to Dey, about 8.2 % of the country's population comprises old persons. "Among them there are many who are from families who are forced to migrate to other places in search of work. And in such conditions there is little other option than to leave their parents alone. In Rajasthan, those retiring every year from the goverment's workforce, that comprises 1 % of the total population, are give pension worth Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 crore while for those retiring from amongst the 99% there is just a paltry sum of Rs 356 crore. In such circumstances it is mandatory that the government implements a mandatory universal old age pension," he added.