Citizens' Issues
Budget 2014 has done well in recognizing the needs of senior citizens

Budget 2014 has noted the existence of ageing India and has several positive announcements for them, but we are far behind in terms of planning for an ageing population

While the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had almost completely ignored senior citizens in the past few years, the new government has addressed many concerns within just 45 days of being in charge.
A big development is Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement about a proposed committee to examine and recommend the use of ‘Unclaimed Amounts’ with PPF and Post Office Saving Schemes for the benefit of senior citizens. This is an old demand of the National Federation of senior citizens –AISCCON (All India Senior Citizens Confederation) and had been made through its past president RN Mittal.
 
The many positives in this budget include the announcement of special treatment for elders; raising the tax exemption limits for seniors from Rs2.5 lakh to Rs3 lakh; providing funds for implementing the one-rank-one-pension scheme for Defence Personnel (which was another hard-fought battle by veterans); announcement of a minimum pension of Rs1000 under the EPS-95 scheme run by retirement fund body EPFO. In addition, The old-age pension scheme 'Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) has been revived up till 14 August 2015 and the Finance Minister (FM) has announced the setting up of two National Institutes of Ageing, one at AIIMS ( All India Institute of Medical Science) in Dehi and the other at Madras medical college

I further believe that many other budget announcements had an indirect beneficial impacts for senior citizens. For instance, the SP Mukherjee Urban Mission, rural health programmes, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or even the plans for rural housing or schemes for skill development etc all have a rub-off benefit for seniors as well.

However, a lot more needs to be done and things are running ahead of the government’s ability to fulfill existing demands. For 14 years now, NGOs working for senior citizens are pushing for a proper implementation of the NPOP (National Policy on Older Persons, 1999), meanwhile, social and economic changes create new situations that need to be addressed. A lot more needs to be done.

The UNFPA ‘Report on the Status of Elderly in Select States of India’, 2012, says that an ageing population with its wide implications for the economy and society will be a major demographic issue for India in the 21st century as India moves from being a young country to an older country in a few decades. The report has highlighted many challenges including the status of women, poor literacy, economic dependence and other travails already faced by seniors, which will only increase as the population ages rapidly. We need to plan for the future in a hurry.

While Budget 2014 has made a good beginning, I would suggest that the government consider some additional issues as well. We need implementation of the NPOP 1999 (reviewed in 2011); we badly need pan-India implementation of the ‘Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007’ as well as the National Programme for Health Care for the Elderly (NPHCE). We also need the government to work with NGOs and institutions for skill development and training when it comes to taking care of the elderly and dealing with cases of Dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, all of which need special handling. While there is an acute scarcity of trained caregivers, healthcare costs are galloping. I would urge the government to consider tax exemptions on high cost supplies that are required by bed-ridden elderly or those requiring assistance such as – adult diapers, wheel chairs, walking sticks etc.

The revised National Policy for Senior Citizens (NPSC) recommends eight areas of intervention, namely income security in old age, health care, safety and security, housing, productive ageing, welfare, multi-generational bonding, and enhancing involvement and participation of media on ageing issues. The NPSC is currently awaiting cabinet approval, recognizes that outcome changes such as improvement in quality of life, socio-economic conditions and health of senior citizens can be brought about only through the collaborative efforts of the government, civil society and the private sector. This budget did not speak about NPSC, I still hope that the government will find time to take it up in the current year.

In the unorganized sector, government reports show that a significant portion of the elderly continue to work for economic reasons. Sadly however, most are not even aware of social security schemes such as the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) and the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS), while awareness of the Annapurna Scheme is rather limited. The utilization of all three schemes is very low among the target stakeholders the BPL households.

Another area of focus has to be the increase in elder-abuse. The NGO HelpAge India recently conducted the survey in 12 cities (including six tier-one cities and six tier-2 cities) and released its report covering a sample of 1,200 persons on 15 June 2014,two days ahead of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The survey revealed that 50% of elders suffer abuse, which is a sharp increase from the figure of 23% last year. This is an alarming figure and needs the government's attention.

Cognitive issues and the desperation to increase returns on their meagre savings make elders more susceptible to financial fraud and the lures of dubious ponzi schemes. They also need protection in the realty sector, especially with the rapid growth of retirement communities, which lure the more affluent seniors who live alone to invest their life savings on the promise of super amenities and care facilities. None of these are subject to regulation if the builders renege on their promises.

I am glad that the government has woken up to the special needs of the elderly, but after years of neglect, there is plenty to be done in a short time, if we are to prepare for the slow aging of our population over the years.

(Sailesh Mishra is Founder President of Silver Innings, an NGO working with senior citizens since 2008)

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COMMENTS

S V TANEJA

2 years ago

Something commendable. Could not leave in between without reading till the end. The views of Sales Misra appear to give he/w direction and hope to the silvers. The government should give consideration to the plight of the seniors.

TS Rao

2 years ago

I dont find anything worthwhile in the Budget for the Senior Citizens. The one rank one pension, or raising of income tax limites are for the affluent. But what we need is approval of NPSC and a omechanism to see that the fruits reach the tiniest of the population, and is not restricted to the vociforous citi-dwellers.

Ashok Joshi

2 years ago

With most senior citizens tax payable is much lower than the TDS deducted under various heads like FDs. The department has been most reluctant to reimburse it. In fact they often make fictitious adjustments against previous years returns so that tax refundable is nil! will the new government ensure prompt refunds?

Joshi

mam chand aggarwal

2 years ago

No awareness about these schemes in public specially the senior citizens

Krishnan

2 years ago

Very well written article, we have so much hope from the new Government to fulfill the demands of million Senior Citizens in rural and urban India. We are happy that Sailesh and organisations like Silver Innings, helpage India are advocating the basic rights of Seniors.

Sensex, Nifty may stage a small rally: Weekly Market Report
Nifty has to hold this week’s low for the rally

The S&P BSE 30-share Sensex closed the week that ended on 11th July at 25,024 (down 938 points or 3.61%), while the NSE’s 50-share CNX Nifty closed at 7,460 (down 292 points or 3.77%) for the week. This week was eventful with lot of positive anticipation from the budget.
 
On Monday, after a volatile session ended, the market was in the green for the second consecutive session. The ministry of Petroleum and Natural gas clarified after market hours on 4 July 2014 said that it is not proposing any increase in prices of subsidised LPG and kerosene prices after certain media reports speculated about the possibility of increase in the prices of subsidised LPG and PDS Kerosene. Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda was to present the final Railway Budget for 2014-15 in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Nifty closed at 7,787 (up 36 points or 0.46%).
 
On Tuesday, after trading in a range for considerable time, the indices started moving lower. The railway budget did not go well with the market. Nifty made the highest percentage loss since 3 September 2013 closing at 7,623 (down 164 points or 2.11%). One of the steps in the rail budget was that the rail ministry is seeking Cabinet nod to allow foreign direct investment in the sector.
 
The market gave up further gains on Wednesday as well. The Economic Survey for 2013-14 given out on the day predicted a recovery in India's economic growth in 2014-15. It forecast 5.4% to 5.9% growth in GDP in 2014-15, compared with 4.7% expansion in 2013-14. Nifty closed at 7,585 (down 38 points or 0.50%).
 
The much awaited budget for 2014-15 on Thursday was not able to boost the market sentiments. The market closed in the negative for the third consecutive session after a hugely volatile intraday trading. Nifty closed at 7,568 (down 17 points or 0.23%).
 
On Friday, after the budget details were digested, the indices fell again. Nifty closed at 7,460 (down 108 points or 1.43%). Morgan Stanley has raised its June 2015 target for the Sensex by 9% to 28,800, saying the budget would help revive investor sentiment and boost earnings. The Index of Industrial Production for the month of May came in at 4.7% versus 3.4 % month-on-month. However, core industry growth for May slowed to 2.3% versus 4.2% month-on-month and 5.9% year-on-year.
 
For the week, among the other indices on the NSE, the top two performers were FMCG (1%) and IT (1%) while the worst two performers were PSU Bank (12%) and Nifty Midcap 50 (12%).
 
Among the Nifty stocks, the top five stocks for the week were IDFC (11%); Sun Pharma (5%); ITC (4%); Hindustan Unilever (3%) and Infosys (2%) while the top five losers were Bhel (15%); Jindal Steel & Power (14%); NMDC (13%); Punjab National Bank (11%) and Bank of Baroda (11%).
 
 Of the 1,452 companies on the NSE, 159 companies closed in the green, 1,283 companies closed in the red while 10 companies closed flat.
 
Out of the 27 main sectors tracked by Moneylife, top five and the bottom five sectors for this week were:

ML Top sector

 

ML Worst sector

 

Consumer Products

-1%

Farm & Farm Inputs

-6%

Financial Services

-1%

Textiles

-6%

Software & It Services

-1%

Energy

-6%

Pharma

-2%

Lifestyle & Leisure

-5%

Hotels

-2%

Banks

-5%

 

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Sensex, Nifty will try to rally– Friday closing report
Nifty may rally if today’s lows hold

A day after the budget the Indian market had a quiet opening Friday and was trading flat up to around 11am. However, thereafter, the indices fell sharply as the details of a ho-hum budget started to sink in. The S&P BSE Sensex opened at 25,489 while the NSE's CNX Nifty opened at 7,584. After hitting the day’s high at the beginning of the session at 25,548 and 7,626, both the Sensex and Nifty, moved lower to hit a low at 24,978 and 7,447, respectively. Sensex closed at 25,024 (down 348 points or 1.37%) while Nifty closed at 7,460 (down 108 points or 1.43%). The NSE recorded a volume of 113.84 crore shares. India VIX fell 1.52% to close at 15.7225.
 
The government unveiled industrial production data for May 2014 today. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for the month of May came in at 4.7% versus 3.4 % month-on-month. Electricity sector growth came in at 6.3% against 11.9% MoM. Manufacturing sector growth too jumped to 4.8% versus 2.6% in April. Mining sector growth too improved at 2.7% against 1.2% MoM. However, core industry growth for May slowed to 2.3% versus 4.2% month-on-month and 5.9% year-on-year.
 
Infosys, which came out with its result today posted a net profit of Rs2,720 crore for the quarter ended June 2014 as compared to Rs2,250 crore for the quarter ended June 2013. Revenue increased from Rs9,959 crore for the quarter ended June 2013 to Rs 11,319 crore for the quarter ended June 2014. On a consolidated basis, the company posted a net profit of Rs2,886 crore for the quarter ended June 2014 as compared to Rs2,374 crore for the quarter ended June 2013. Revenue has increased from Rs 11,267 crore for the quarter ended June 2013 to Rs12,770 crore for the quarter ended June 2014. The guidance is unchanged compared to the one given at the time of announcement of March 2014 quarter result. The guidance in rupee terms has also been kept unchanged. The company expects its revenue to grow 5.6%-7.6% in rupee terms in FY 2015.
 
Morgan Stanley has raised its June 2015 target for the Sensex by 9% to 28,800, saying the budget would help revive investor sentiment and boost earnings. It expects Sensex earnings growth to be 13.5% for FY15, 22.7% for FY16 and 23.4% for FY17.
 
Sun Pharma (2.28%) was top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack while Hindalco, the top gainer in the Sensex 30 stock yesterday, was among the top two losers (5.59%) today.
 
Aurobindo Pharma (3.90%) was the top gainer in the ‘A’ group on the BSE. The company saw the increase in the FII holding this quarter from 23.74% in March 2014 to 27.59% in June 2014. On the other hand DII holding fell to 7.73% from 9.85% in the relevant period.
 
Power Finance (10.47%), among the top three losers in the ‘A’ group on the BSE, saw the DII holding falling to 10.42% from 11.02% in June 2014 quarter from March 2014 quarter.
 
US indices closed in the negative on Thursday. Except for Shanghai Composite (0.42%) and Straits Times (0.74%) all the other Asian indices closed in the red. Jakarta Composite (1.28%) was the top loser.
 
European indices were trading in the green. US Futures were trading marginally higher. Portugal's largest bank missed payments to bondholders, which has sparked concerns that banking sectors in the euro zone periphery may be in trouble.

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