Sunday, June 1, 2008

For the forgotten ones

May 27, 2008

H/l: Old age knocks on government's doors
Intro: …while Mumbai gears up for programme to highlight elderly issues
Byline: Vrushali Lad

Mumbai: A group of professionals linked together by a love for the elderly and an empathy for their needs, have compiled a petition for CM Vilasrao Deshmukh's consideration. The petition includes everthing from securing a reasonable monthly pension for the elderly to amending laws for their protection.

"We will be taking the petition to the CM and the social justice department on June 14, a day before World Elder Abuse Day. We hope the government is receptive to the idea of treating senior citizens on par with the rest of society and stop the many abuses being meted out to them by their families and society," said one of the seven founders of the Silver Innings Foundation (SIF), Sailesh Mishra.

"Everybody gets old, but we tend to abuse our elders' rights to suit our convenience. SIF hopes to secure these rights and help families include the elderly in their daily functioning, instead of relegating them to the fringes," another SIF member, Amruta Lovekar said.

SIF, a coming together of professionals from various walks of life, has compiled the petition to target officials and citizens alike. "Apart from society, the government and police do not take senior citizens into account. Hence there are no specific laws and facilities for them, resulting in no clear framework and a gross abuse of basic rights," said Mishra. The petition will be posted on from May 29 to gather maximum popular support (see box).

Hearteningly, SIF is just a month old and works out of a tiny office at Lower Parel, but it already has over 150 members in a month since it started in April 2008 and over 40 per cent of them are youngsters. In an interesting twist, the website is being upgraded to include a blogging space for senior citizens, as also a dating service for the elderly. "It's basically about including them into mainstream life," said Mishra.

SIF is organising a month-long programme from June 1 to June 30 to highlight elderly issues, and will have workshops on legal rights, distribution of armbands and badges, and slots for dialogue between older and younger generations.

Attention: Vilasrao Deshmukh
The SIF petition recommends:
Form senior citizens forum in every community
Form vigilance committees in every urban residential colony
Set up multi-service community Gero-care centre
Start 4-digit national Elder Abuse Helpline
Give more power to local police station to act against elder abuse
Make elder abuse a non-bailable offense
Let third party lodge complaint on behalf of abused elders
Establish counselling centers
Have grievances centre in each tehsil/ taluka
Regular awareness campaigns through media

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