Struggle for ‘work for all’ and ‘pensions for all elderly’

16 Dec

Dear Saathis at the Kam Mango Abhiyan (KMA) and the Pension Parishad (PP),

I am writing this mail to you to point out a sad overlap in the struggle for ‘work for all’ and ‘pensions for all elderly’. While the Kam Mango Abhiyan padyatras were happening in Katihar, several of our pad yatra teams would call in saying that what do we do when elderly who get social security pension apply for work? With a meager pension of Rupees 200/300 and no other support system our elderly have no option but to work at MNREGA worksite. They really want this work and so we advised that irrespective of age we help people get work and job cards.

We are sharing stories of some of these elderly who applied for job cards and work, and do not even get the Rupees 200 because they are categorized as APL. These stories were put together by Shomira, a young student from Delhi University who was part of the KMA in Katihar (Bihar).

At this time having viable pensions for all elderly is much needed and it is in this context that over 200 elderly are sitting in the cold in Delhi on a dharna with these very relevant demands.

Best wishes

Kamayani

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MOHD. SAFIQ  s/o SHEIKH AMEENUDDIN

Age: 70 years

Wife: Hajra Khatoon, age: 60-65 years

Village:  Jajaala

Block: Aazamnagar

District : Katihar, Bihar

According to him, there was a ‘shivir’ that was held sometime ago which he attended, but was turned away because he falls under the category of APL.  He and his wife stay together, and both his sons stay outside of the village; neither of them sends the parents any money or anything. He earns Rs. 100 a day doing petty labour (all kinds of odd jobs), and as such, does not have any job. He and his wife are not in a very good condition; they also do not have any land of their own.

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RAMSWAROOP SHAH s/o PARMESHWAR SHAH

Age: 70 years

Wife: Budhiya Devi, age- 63 years

Village: Makaipur Panchayat

Block: Korha

District: Katihar, Bihar

Both husband and wife stay alone. He does not have much land holding. His son stays in the same village, but separately while his three daughters are married. Children do not send anything to the aged parents. They fall under the category of APL, and hence receive no pension. He has given his entire 10 ‘kattha’ (20 kattha= 1 bigha) land to his son. Is very poor, has no property of his own, and is very old. Tries to eke out a living by doing mazdoori on someone else’s field.

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ALIMUDDIN s/o SHEIKH PANCHU

Wife: Habiban (2nd wife)

Age:  65 years

Village: Jajaala

Block: Aazamnagar

District : Katihar, Bihar

Lives in a kutcha mud house, on a piece of land next to the kutcha road (which is the ‘district’ road). He falls under the category of APL, and hence receives no pension. He had given his application in the SDO but was sent away, being told that his pension would be taken care of only when the next abhiyan came along. His only daughter from his first marriage got married in West Bengal, and does not send him anything. He has two very small children from his second marriage. Cuts ‘dhaan’ on someone else’s land, for which he gets Rs. 100 a day, more or less.

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MOHD. HAKIMUDDIN s/o JAINUDDIN

Age: 68 years

Village: Jajaala

Block: Aazamnagar

District : Katihar, Bihar

He falls under the category of APL, hence does not receive any pension. His second wife is 35 years old, yet has not applied for MNREGA work, since in their predominantly Muslim community in the village, it is not seen as appropriate for a woman to work outside the house. Tried to convince him otherwise. His children from his first marriage do not take care of him and neither do they lend any financial support.

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