Pension is neither a bounty nor a matter of grace; it is a right of an employee for the service he rendered and to live with dignity after retirement. The Pension Awareness Campaign is an initiative we launched in 2014. The aim of the campaign is to alert the nation that it is not saving enough for retirement and to unite the financial services industry, businesses, employers and the government to share innovative ideas and to work together in driving engagement with retirement saving.
As the National Pension Commission places informational materials in newspapers to educate savers in Retirement Savings Accounts on how to calculate the total balances in their accounts, the world of pension administration at home and abroad is replete with events and activities, some favourable and others not so pleasant, to pensioners.
A pensioner has to go once a year, in the month of November for “Life certificate”. It is mandatory. The government has made a welcome change that it is once a year. Earlier it was once a month, which led to avoidable harassment and corruption too. A quixotic example is of a bribe asked for life certificate for say month of July when life certificate for August and September had been given. After all, someone alive in September is expected to be alive two months earlier. Another good thing that the government has done is decentralise pension from Treasury to Banks. Linked to Aadhaar, it’s an easy process. OTP comes to registered Cell, the fingerprint is taken and work is done. Only requirements are while visiting the Bank which is mandatory, one has to take Aadhaar, PAN and the PPO number, along with the registered cell number. This once a year visit is a must.
Seniors in the satellite city are better off than their neighbour in Mumbai. With a lot of space available in the city for seniors to go for a walk, meet the friends during birthdays and spend useful time in the evening with a purpose. Simple living and high thinking is the motto of the Senior Citizen. The “Helping Hands” of the seniors spread to every nook and corner of the country. It helps to spread awareness about the needs of Senior Citizens and makes them know of their own rights. This includes how to make use of Pension Amount to profitable investments and earning good returns. Such returns earned can be made use for the Monthly Medical Expenses without pinching the pocket.
In Mumbai, there is a number of yoga centres to spend the fresh morning time doing some useful exercises in the company of seniors as well as youngsters. In every nook and corner of the city, there are parks to enjoy the greenery and get fresh air as well. As the city is catering to the needs of pensioners, it can be rightly called pensioner’s paradise. However, the frequency of buses has not increased and the footboard height of the buses gives the seniors a nightmarish experience to climb and get into the bus. More and more user-friendly buses with low footboards can help out the cause as in the case air condition buses plying in the city with a high cost. Co-operative societies should be formed to sell household items at a cheaper rate for 60 plus citizens in the State.
No doubt pension is a great help to the retired. However, in recent times, the house rent, prices of essential commodities, the high cost of hospitalisation has harmed the pensioners to a great extent. The value of the pension has been eroded greatly. As a result, a pensioner finds it very difficult to maintain a decent living. The city is not bereft of drawbacks. Footpaths have virtually become extinct due to over height and piling of construction material or garbage. Street dogs pose another problem. One can even see more than a dozen dogs flocking together sometimes. Casualties due to dog bite are not uncommon. It is a clarion call to bring the problems of seniors to the forefront and give them the freedom to live the rest of their life in peace and harmony.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)