Old-age is unavoidable and it comes with many challenges that must be handled cautiously. Turning 60, which is officially the retirement age in India, is a turning point for many. While some consider it a milestone, others believe it to be a challenging stage of their lives. Therefore, the Government of India has taken several initiatives to transform the twilight years of the senior citizens of our country. As the authoritative body of the country, the government has launched several social welfare schemes in India that promote their well-being and resilience.
Caring for the elderly is one of the main virtues practiced over the years in India. Through various governmental schemes, laws, acts and the power vested in the Constitution, India aims to cater to the rights of its senior citizens. At the same time, it targets to give the dependent a decent life. As per the surveys and demographical studies of the Indian population, senior citizens are the fastest growing segment in the country. By 2050, this section will comprise of a whopping 20 percent of the population in India. This is due to the increase in life expectancy in India because of the evolution of better medical facilities and an improved standard of life. Nonetheless, this points at the increased responsibility of the government towards this rapidly growing section of society. Therefore, the government continues to support and care for the elderly through many welfare schemes in India. Here are a few noteworthy senior citizen welfare schemes in India that have been introduced over the years.
Indian Government Schemes/Provisions for Senior Citizens of India
Central Sector Scheme of Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP):
In order to improve the condition and quality of life of the aged, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment introduced this scheme in 1992. The primary objective of this scheme is to supply the basic needs of shelter, food, and medical care for the senior citizens. Also, they aim to encourage an active and productive lifestyle for the aged. The government aims to encourage and aid the State and UT governments, Panchayati Raj institutions, NGOs and other voluntary organizations to create opportunities for the elderly. Under this programme new projects, welfare schemes and initiatives of the creation of old-age homes, shelter homes, rehabilitation center, medical facilities have been launched.
A National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP):
Among many other social welfare schemes in India for the elderly, this is one of the most prominent ones. It was initiated in 1999 in order to support State governments to provide the elderly with basic amenities as well as safeguard their rights and protect them from abuse and exploitation. In general, aim to improve their quality of life. In addition, the policy provides to empower senior citizens against social issues like social security and envisage NGOs to work towards the cause of elderly care.
The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana:
This is one of the recently introduced social welfare schemes in India that was announced in the Budget speech of 2018-19. It is one of the safest pension schemes for the elderly and it is implemented by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). This welfare scheme aims to provide guaranteed financial security to investors. At the initial payment of a lump sum money, the government provides monthly income at the rate of return of 8% per annum. The person can choose to acquire the money monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually.
Senior Citizen Saving Scheme:
As the name suggests, this a reliable saving scheme for the people above 60 in India. This scheme provides old persons with an opportunity to make money. At the same time, it allows them to save for a long time. Under this scheme, persons can save up to 15 lakhs and earn a return at a rate of 8.6% per annum. This rate of return is comparatively higher than the rate of return on fixed deposit or savings account. At the same time, it allows tax benefit under section 80C.
Post Office Monthly Income Scheme (POMIS) Account:
This post office senior citizen scheme allows people to invest up to 4.5 lakhs individually and 9 lakhs jointly for the period of 5 years. This risk-free investment ensures that the interest is deposited in the savings account every month. It is free from market risks and allows reinvestment after the maturity period.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY):
Among many other social welfare schemes in India, this one is also initiated by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, funded by Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund, and implemented by Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO). As per this scheme, old persons belonging to BPL category, suffering from old-age disabilities receive assistance and required aids for a better living. By 2019-20, this scheme is expected to benefit 5,20,000 people.
Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY):
Under the purview of Ministry of Finance, this scheme was launched in 2003. It was reintroduced in 2014 to provide social security to the senior citizens of India that assure minimum pension on the subscription amount. These schemes are implemented by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India that offers 9% return on the investment under this scheme.
National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly:
NPHCE was initiated by The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in 2010 in order to address health issues related to old age for the country’s elderlies. It works to provide health facilities, community health centers, primary health care centers and more. The health facilities that are offered under this scheme are either free or at highly subsidized rates.
Other Benefits And Welfare Schemes for Senior Citizen
Besides these social welfare schemes, the Government of India provides special benefits to the elderlies.
Income Tax: Under the Income Tax Act of 1961, a senior citizen can avail incentives and rebate on the income. As per the latest income-tax slab, senior citizens do not have to pay any tax up to the annual income of Rs. 3,00,000. They are only liable to pay 10% tax on income between 3,00,001 to Rs. 5,00,000 and 20% on income up to 5,00,001 to 10,00,00. As for the super seniors they have to pay 20% tax on the income above 5,00,000. The slabs tax rate for the general public is higher than senior citizens. Also, senior citizens can avail deductions up to Rs. 50,000 on the premium of medical insurance and Rs. 1 lakh on the treatment of critical illnesses.
Travel: As per the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Civil Aviation, senior citizens can avail special offers on their travel tickets. Meanwhile, all trains have reserved accommodation for the seniors. There is a provision of wheelchairs on stations and separate counters are assigned for the elderly. Airlines and airport authorities are instructed to provide special assistance like automated buggies, wheelchair, and small trolleys for hand luggage after security check, free of cost.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act was enacted in 2007 in order to protect and safeguard the rights of the senior citizens. This act aims to provide support to the parents and elderlies to claim monthly maintenance from their children, protect themselves from exploitation and abuse, and keep their life and property safe.
Old age is a challenging stage of life. As a part of society, it is our elemental role to provide care for this precious section of the country. While the government is doing its part, it is important that as citizens of India, we must care and assist the elderlies to deal with the challenges of old age.