October 2, 2011

INDIA: Home-for-aged faces financial crunch

NAGPUR, Maharashtra / The Times of India / October 2, 2011

Rashmi and Naresh Kukde, both senior citizens were thrown out by their daughter-in-law for alleged misbehaviour. Now the couple, who had transferred their entire property including an independent home to their son's name, has nowhere to go. They simply have no other option but to curse their luck.

Even as the world celebrated the "Senior Citizen's Day' on Friday, there are many aged persons like Anna and Kukde couple who're fighting a battle for survival during last phase of their lives. Many more such persons are living miserably at Panchwati Vrudhashram (home for aged) on Umred road at Sakkardara square in the city.

The home for aged being run by Matru Seva Sangh (MSS) is facing severe financial crisis as the social welfare ministry of the Maharashtra government has failed to release its annual grants from last two years.

The place houses over 70 inmates, but only half of them receive government grants, while the organization, playing a big role in city's social sector, takes care of rest. "We're literally surviving on the donations by some citizens who're like a god to us. Despite numerous requests, the social welfare department is not releasing their grants," informs one of the MSS administrators, who didn't wish to be named.

She further informed that a MSS delegation also met social welfare minister Shivajirao Moghe who promised to release their grants, but all promises remained only on paper. Though, Moghe refused to pick the calls repeatedly, the reality is that not only MSS, but many other needy citizens and children are badly awaiting the grants from the ministry which it stalled about a couple of years back for unknown reasons.

Halting grants of reserved category students studying in engineering colleges is one of numerous examples due to which the private college managements are crying foul and even threatened to rusticate the poor and innocent students. These colleges, already facing severe student shortage, are on the verge of bankruptcy and squarely blamed Moghe for the mess.

Another MSS administrator stated that the government grants only Rs 500 per month for a senior citizen which is too meagre considering the fact that cost of essential commodities has skyrocketed. "We provide them decent meals apart from taking care of their medical charges. We also have to look after the maintenance and repairs of the premises. Additionally, we've to provide monthly salaries to staff taking care of the inmates," he complains. "Is it really possible to take care of an adult for just Rs 500?" he asks.

He discloses that some of the inmates hail from extremely poor families and therefore, they take care of them on their own expenses. Some of them also come from the rich and famous families. "Such people get regular pension and they take care of themselves. We take care of others, sometimes from our own pockets."

He stated that they received many requests from the children to take care of their parents, which they decline on account of poor financial resources. "We really feel bad to reject them, but don't have any other option. Not only the government but also other citizens should also take initiative in this regard, by lending helping hand," he demands.

Copyright © 2011 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

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