23 March 2007

Protecting the Aged

The increasing prosperity of India is also, in part, sadly contributing to the disintegration of its social framework. Whereas in previous times, families would take responsibility for the extended members of their unit, nowadays, one parent children are sent to orphanages and aged parents are often heartlessly abandoned.

Because of the decline in familial responsibility to aged parents, the Central Government in Delhi have introduced a Bill aiming to protect the aged. Under the provisions of the 'Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill', 2007, a person responsible for the upkeep of parents over 60 years of age, can attract a maximum of 3 month's imprisonment and a fine of Rs.5,000/- or both, if they fail to take care of them. The proposed Bill is expected to provide effective care and protection for senior citizens against ill treatment inflicted by their own wards and also offers them a speedy and inexpensive legal framework for redress.

Maintenance, as referred to in the Bill, includes; provision for food, clothing, residence, medical attention and treatment. The legislation also provides for the setting up of Tribunals in rural areas that will decide on complaints by the aged. The Tribunal will have the power to revert property to the parent in case of abuse and order payment of maintenance, depending upon the children's earning capacity.

State Governments are also expected to create and maintain Old Age Homes in a phased manner beginning with at least one in each District to accommodate 150 indigent senior citizens.

According to Government figures, more than 80 million people in India are over the age of 60 years. Over the years, there have been many cases of severe abuse when children force old and sick parents to give up their savings or sign over property into the child's name. Also, many older people, particularly widowed women, are forced to spend their late years alone, exposed to emotional neglect and lack of physical and financial support.

1 comment:

Divyakka said...

WOW about the Bill! A very good one indeed.