The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has proposed widening the definition of children to include sons-in-law and daughters-in-law through amendments in an act on the welfare of senior citizens. Currently, the term includes only sons, daughters, and grandchildren. The ministry also wants to remove the cap on the maintenance payable to elderly.
The ministry proposed that the definition of senior citizen to include uniform adoption of age criteria — 60 years — across government and private sector — for giving benefits to elderly. It has also proposed increasing the jail term for those who abandon or abuse their elderly parents, to six months from the existing three months under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007.
The proposed amendments were discussed at the third ‘Meeting of National Council for Senior Citizens’ in which members of the council belonging to ministries and departments like Railways, Labour and Employment, Rural Development, Department of Justice and representatives of states participated.
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot along with senior BJP leader L K Advani presided over the meeting.
According to the proposed amendments, the ministry wants to remove the existing Rs 10,000 ceiling so that the maintenance amount can be decided on the basis of the income of the senior citizens and their children.
Also, it wants to widen the definition of children to include sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, adopted or stepchildren and even minors represented by their legal guardians.
Besides, to bridge the inter-generational gap and sensitize the younger generation, the ministry has suggested the Ministry of Human resource development to include compulsory counseling sessions on inter-generational bonding as part of the school curriculum and syllabus.
Also to ensure social security to senior citizens, the ministry has approached the Ministry of Home affairs to develop measures to curb the growing atrocities against senior citizens.
Gehlot informed that 290 districts have been identified so far out of which assessment has been done in 49 districts and camps held in 29 districts under the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojna, a scheme for providing physical aids and assisted living devices to the poor senior citizens.
“Camps have been held in 29 districts so far benefitting 34,069 elderly belonging to BPL families. As on date, Rs 17.50 crore has been released to the implementing agency ALIMCO for organising the distribution camps,” Gehlot said.