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PM ‘Cares’ about the Elderly but the Government doesn’t?

-Krishna Sam

‘Practice what you Preach’ or ‘Jo updesh aap dete hain woh apne upar bhi lagu karein’is one
proverb that can help us all to work towards a better life. The story of the saint who refused to preach a child about the harmful effects of eating sugar before he could overcome his own greed for the same; is a very popular story. It is often told and heard in Indian households to instill good values in children.

Sadly, in our day and age where ‘hypocrisy’ rules and the truth told by the often repeated
proverb is now confined to textbooks, sermons and satsangs. We often have very harsh
criticisms reserved to others; who do not follow the right path. But for ourselves we all have, befitting rationales and justifications set and ready, waiting to be argued out loud and clearly if our hypocritical attitude is ever called out. Why does this matter? This matters now more than ever because ‘we the people’ make ‘our governments’ and ‘our governments’ are made of ‘people like us’.

In the April 14 speech our PM gave us ‘seven must follow prescriptions’ in our long drawn
battle against COVID-19. His first direction was to “Take extra care of our elders, and keep them safe from coronavirus” because they belong to the most vulnerable age group. Sadly, this preaching has come out too empty too soon. It has hardly been ten days since that memorable speech echoed in our homes and today the central government issued an order to freeze the DA of 50 lakh central government employees as well as of 61 lakh pensioners.

The DA due since the first of January of this year will be frozen till July 2021 was announced by the Department of Expenditure. This allowance constitutes for about 4%percent of the promised yearly hike for the government employees and 21% for the pensioners. It is a sum that the elderly have been eagerly looking forward to especially in these troubled times when prices of goods of everyday use are on a steady rise. Thanks to the ill-managed lockdown strategy: blackmarketing is on a all-time high, access to medicine and healthcare is on all time low and many elderly people are separated from their children.

While our government has not yet declared any special arrangements or provisions for the
elderly like delivery of essential goods or medicines across India. It is extremely sad to see this freeze implemented on our pensioners in such a hurried manner. The elderly amongst our ministers are enjoying the best privileges despite the restrictions; their health care needs are being addressed and their children are flown home from all parts of the globe. But a large section of our elderly who toiled and rendered services to our nation all their lives are being treated in such a harsh and unjust manner today.

It is heart-breaking to see the recklessness with which the much needed money of our elderly being frozen for more than a year, when death for them on the other hand is inching closer with every passing day. We have to ask Mr. Pradhan Sevak who so easily is moved to tears and yet hardly acts in the best interest of his citizens that:
• Why there is no nation-wide plan to ensure the safety of our elderly? Will sermons on
“responsible behaviour” to citizens suffice in ensuring the good-health of our parents
and grandparents?
• What steps did the government take to ensure that the elderly do not face any problem
in accessing health care when most of our ‘barely existing’ health services are
redirected towards handling Covid-19 crisis?
• Or are the pensioners who have dedicated their lives to Defence and Railways too are
anti-national and have to be taught a lesson in these troubled times?
• Do we have to snatch money from the elderly to run our country in times of crisis? Is
that not against Indian values?

Our current situation almost sounds like the story of my neighbours. The drunkard son who is incapable of managing his finances often beats his parents and takes away their money by force to manage home at the end of the month.

I know our beloved leaders are very well versed in Sanskrit shlokas but they must also
remember an important saying that would aid their betterment “Abhivadan ShilasyaNityam
Vriddhopasevinah/ Chatwari Tasya Vardhante Ayur Vidya Yasho Balam” or “Those who are
humble, always serve the elderly, four things in their life increase steadily, namely: their life span, wisdom, fame and power”. If we don’t, then darker days await us and us futures.

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