“Far from being pro-people, the budget has clearly exposed its bias towards the rich and privileged by undertaking fiscal consolidation at the cost of high priority development expenditure aimed at reaching out to the most vulnerable sections of the population,” said Nikhil Dey, member, Pension Parishad.
“It is an absolute let-down,” he added.
National convener Aruna Roy said the group will not “give up” and will make the issue related to the pension of the elderly an election issue.
“Having struggled persistently on this issue since 2012 by assembling in Delhi before and during each Lok Sabha session, we are not prepared to give up and will make it a poll issue,” Roy said.
She added the group will make it clear that to get their vote, a monthly pension of Rs.2,000 should be provided.
Observing that the implications of reducing development expenditure in key sectors such as rural development is a failure, the activists said: “The negligence of flagship programs such as MGNREGA, is a stark example of the failure of the government to stick to its pledge to scale up the flagship programme, go beyond election rhetoric and deliver guaranteed employment.”
The members also pointed out that with 32 percent of elderly males and 72 percent of elderly women being dependent on others for sustenance, the government had created widespread disillusionment by going back on the commitments.
“It made a commitment to revamp the National Social Assistance Programme to universalise old age pension entitlements and improve the pension amounts so the elderly, women and people living with disability can live with a modicum of dignity and self respect,” they said.
Pension Parishad is an initiative to ensure universal pension to all elderly in India.