Even as the Maharashtra government has decided to implement the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act from March 1,the pensioners paradise Pune has reservations about how it will be done. Many feel that not many parents will come forward and register complaints against their children despite getting a raw deal.
The one reason that the elderly land in trouble is their decision to transfer their property to young ones when they are hale and hearty. Instead,they should make a will to transfer their property to children only after their death,experts say.
The Act provides that anyone who shows disrespect to or does not care for his or her parents above 60 years of age is liable for punishment up to three months of imprisonment or a fine of Rs 5,000 or both. Adopted children too will be liable to the punitive measures. Currently,a person is fined Rs 500 if his or her parents lodge a complaint.
Legislation in this regard will not bring any change. This would further lead to criminalisation of human relationships. The Act might bring some superficial and cosmetic changes. What needs to change is the attitude of the youths. As we were able to control HIV/ AIDS by spreading awareness about it,people should be made aware of the problems of children deserting their parents, human rights activist and lawyer Asim Sarode said.
Dr Ranjana Pawar,proprietor of Umed Care Centre for senior citizens located in Katraj,said most cases of children neglecting parents arose after property got transferred. Once property is transferred in the names of the young ones,parents often find their way to old age home or are forced to live separately,away from their own homes. At old age homes,they send money by post and do not bother to see whether they are alive or not. So it is the parents who should be cautious and should not transfer the property or valuables in the name of their children while they are alive.
It is the attitude of the parents that needs to be changed. Those who are in their forties and have children,should be given counselling about what lies in store for them, she said.
The real problem will lie in implementation of the Act,as parents do not want their children to suffer and hence refuse to file a case against them. Also,the Act does not spell out anything about the wards who settle down abroad, said Rajan Deshpande of Spandan Care Centre in Wadgaon Budruk.
MLC Neelam Gorhe,who also runs Stree Adhar Kendra in Pune,agrees. The real challenge will be the implementation and changing the mindset of the parents,she said.