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As India aged, 32% of elderly got 71% of government money

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Five states with no more than 32 per cent of India’s population of senior citizens (above 60) cornered 71 per cent of the Rs 34 crore that the Centre provided for maintenance of old-age homes over the past four years, according to an analysis of government data.

India is known for its demographic dividend, but the country is ageing, its elderly population rising 36 percent over 10 years. The skewed funding of a centrally-run elderly care programme indicates that some states are better prepared than others – the poorest and most ill-managed are worst off – to navigate the formidable bureaucracy that sanctions grants to NGOs.

Of the Rs 34 crore, Rs 24 crore (71 per cent) went to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, states that are home to one-third of India’s senior citizens, revealed our analysis, based on data from the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

The data includes the number of old-age homes assisted, funding granted and beneficiaries targeted under the Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP) over four financial years, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 (till November 26, 2015).

Government funding through the IPOP covers 90 per cent of costs to build and maintain old-age homes, day care centres and mobile medicare units for indigent senior citizens. It is managed by the social defence bureau of the social justice ministry.

India had 103.8 million citizens above the age of 60 at the end of 2011, up from 77 million in 2001, the rising numbers a result of falling fertility rate and growing life expectancy, IndiaSpend reported in May 2016.

An increase in elderly population implies greater responsibility for the government and civil society organisations in providing shelter, food and healthcare for the aged. Currently, the skewed funding reflects the lack of attention to this ageing.

Andhra Pradesh, with seven million fewer senior citizens, got almost eight times more funding than Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, has more people above 60 than any other state (15 million or 14.86 per cent), but it got no more than 3.22 per cent of central funds to maintain old-age homes. With 7.97 per cent of senior citizens (eight million), Andhra Pradesh – the data includes Telangana – got almost eight times as much money as Uttar Pradesh.

With 20.77 per cent of India’s above-60 population, three southern states, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, cornered 52.16 per cent of IPOP funding over the four financial years mentioned.

Andhra Pradesh also has the most IPOP beneficiaries nationwide (5,100), six times more than Uttar Praadesh’s 700. The anomalies affect the poorest and most-populous states.

With seven million aged persons, Bihar has the fifth largest population of elderly people, but it received 0.70 per cent of national funding; Rajasthan, home to five million senior citizens, got 1.1 per cent.

Any budgetary proposal under IPOP goes through numerous desks between the district, state and central government, which causes inordinate delays, diluting the government’s purpose of helping the voluntary sector with timely funds,” said Balakrishna Moorthy, general secretary of People’s Action for Social Service, an NGO that runs two old-age homes and one mobile medicare unit for elderly persons in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh.

Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have similar proportions of people above 60 – 5.57 per cent and 5.50 per cent – but Karnataka, with 13.88 per cent of IPOP funds, got 13 times as much funding as Madhya Pradesh over the last four financial years, during which Madhya Pradesh had 1.25 per cent of IPOP beneficiaries compared to Karnataka’s 12 per cent.

Assam and Manipur, home to 2.18 per cent of senior citizens, in top-10 funded states

Odisha, which is not even among the top 10 states with a senior citizen’s population, got 12.53 per cent of the funds granted to old age homes over four years and ranks second in both beneficiaries targeted and old-age homes funded.

Among the top-10 funded states are Assam and Manipur, which collectively got 10.59 per cent of funds but are home to only 2.18 per cent of India’s elderly population.

With four million elderly persons, Gujarat ranks 10th on the list of senior citizens, but it received no elderly care funding over the last four financial years. Kerala, which ranks 11th, received no funding in 2012-13 and 2014-15.

A newly-introduced online grant-in-aid application mechanism does not cut paperwork, said experts; it has introduced potential intermediaries in a process already termed “tedious”.

“I receive a constant barrage of emails and phone calls from consultancy firms that offer to file my applications online and lobby for my proposal at various levels of bureaucracy,” said Sukhwinder Singh, manager of Gyandeep Shiksha Samiti that runs a day care centre for senior citizens in Bhatinda, Punjab.

The number of old-age homes supported under the IPOP has declined over the last few years: 269 were funded by the central government in 2012-13, declining to 207 in 2013-14 and 187 in 2014-15.

The Supreme Court, in April 2016, issued notice to the ministry of social justice and empowerment in response to a public interest litigation filed by former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who insisted that while there were enough laws and policies for the elderly, they were improperly implemented.

(07.06.2016 – In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Nishtha Bharti is an independent researcher based in Ajmer, Rajasthan. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. The author can be contacted at [email protected])
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Corona Karma: The Mythology of Illness

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Coronavirus

A few years ago, my mother had a severe case of shingles, a disease that causes the patient’s nerve endings to become sore from a pathogen that is moderately contagious. Its source is the vestigial presence of the varicella-zoster virus lying dormant in the subject’s body, invariably from a childhood case of chickenpox. I had, of course, researched the illness before I visited my mother, but no sooner had I entered the gated community of apartments where my parents lived then, than I was informed of my mother’s diagnosis. “Mata ka prakop,” the neighbors called it, shaking their heads disapprovingly, from side to side. My mother had invited the wrath of the Goddess.

Every culture has gone through the many stages of making meaning of dreaded diseases. Often the deities devise ways of conveying their displeasure to the people inflicted with an inexplicable phenomenon. This is true not just of “primitive” societies, but of scientifically “advanced” cultures as well. Remember the argument of the 1980s and 90s about AIDS in America, and how it was God’s way of punishing homosexual men for their ungodly ways. It seems every new disease has a karmic connection!

So when we conjecture about how some people may have gotten infected with the Corona virus thus: “kyapata, unke karma honge,” (“who knows, this might be a result of their karma) I am reminded of the “wrath of the Goddess,” meted out to my mother.

My problem with using myths to give meaning, stems from the fact thatevenlong after we have found a vaccine and a cure, the mythicdimensions of the pathogen will remain lodged in our collective unconscious. And when in the future stray instances of the illness flare up, whenwe, as a society, are under stress, vested interests will be able to generate panic and fear among the people by just tapping into our unconscious. Religiosity is a crude instrument of ideology.

In 1978 Susan Sontag, an important cultural critic gave a talk, “Illness as Metaphor,” in which she contrasted tuberculosis and cancer by citing countless examples of the representation of these illnesses in literary, operatic, theatrical, and poetic texts. Tuberculosis, Sontag argued, was the disease of the 19th century, of poverty, poor labour conditions, or a life wasted in leisure or unrealized genius. Cancer by contrast, was the disease of the 20th century, a moral contagion, a hostile takeover bid, that required a militaristic response. Extending this analogy, I want to argue that the Corona virus is shaping up to be the disease of this present century, already saturated with metaphors of geo-politics on the world stage. Here in India, it is a campaign to corralan out of control, leaking, irrepressible pollutant, that must be plugged.

President Donald Trump’s effort at branding the pathogen as the Wuhan or the Chinese virus is being played out as a protracted chess gamebetween two superpowers, with the WHO cast as the adversarial Queen by both sides.

In India, the Corona virus pandemic is being “treated” (no pun intended) as a more virulent and mutated strain of both tuberculosis and cancer. It is an insidious, surreptitious malware that is being countered with predictable software patches deployed in emergencies, but with no long-term strategy for the containment, management, or prospective cure for the patient. People suspected of carrying the virus, are being exiled rather than given refuge in a sanatorium. Economically vulnerable migrant workers are being treated as though they were children playing truant or escaped convicts. Police forces in virtually all the states where these workers are travelling have used tactics of mob control more than the benevolent practices of relief agencies.

I cannot help but wonder if this is not a perverse response to the political agitations that were gaining strength earlier this year. The virus has become a metaphor for out of control people: citizens determined to define citizenship in progressive rather than punitive determinants; and workers of the informal sector responding to a sputtering economy. When markets cannot regulate the demand/supply and price of onions, even the person on the street knows how to read the signs. As in other authoritarian regimes, the lockdown appears designed to function more as a gag order than a prophylactic measure against a pandemic.

When the metaphor of karma is used loosely to explain the apparently random patterns in which the disease is spreading, in a society where cleanliness and uncleanliness are indelible markers of caste, we run the risk of creating a new caste of Corona untouchables. Already the (conspiracy) theory that the virus came to India through the Tablighi Jamaat convention attendees in Nizamuddin, New Delhi, has tinged the virus with a communal hue.

Let us return to the origins to the Corona virus’s journey from bats to humans. How can a virus found in bats find its way into the human eco-system? It is because habitat and biodiversity loss have diminished the spatial distance between humans and wildlife. The Coronus virus is conjectured to have come from people eating “bush meat”. What is bush meat and why do people eat it? It is the meat of small, semi-wild animals that live in the shadows of the urban sprawl and are relatively easy to catch. This meat is less expensive than farm raised poultry and meat. It is also not regulated for hygiene, freshness, and disease. I would never know what the Civet Cat on my plate, ate, where it lived, or how it died. Actually, we don’t even know whether it is cat!

The extraction of natural resources through mining the earth and logging the forests, without any thought to replenishing them, has left vast stretches of the earth barren. The planting of monocultural crops has caused an imbalance in the natural eco-systems that kept a natural balance between harmless and beneficial viruses and other microorganisms. Further, the unchecked growth of urban sprawl and the attendant pollution has compromised the repair work that trees were meant to do.

Is it any wonder that the rage of Mother Earth has been unleashed upon us? “Mata ka prakop,” is punishment for our collective karma.

By: Poonam Arora

Ph.D., has until recently been a professor in the Humanities, focusing on the liberal arts. She is now a Delhi based writer. She can be reached at [email protected] (The views expressed are personal of the author, who retains the copyright)

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Stranded in India and want to fly out? Here’s all you need to know

The stranded individuals making the cut will be flown in the same non-scheduled flights which will be used to bring back stranded Indians from various countries.

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Coronaviurs in China Outbreak

New Delhi, May 24 : Six days after the beginning of lockdown 4.0, the Indian government on Sunday came up with new Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) to fly out those who are stranded in India due to the lockdown.

All such individuals have to apply with the Ministry of Civil Aviation or agencies designated by it, to start with. However, the government has made it clear that only those people will be allowed who are either citizens of those countries that they are travelling to or hold a visa of that country for a duration of a year, or are green card or OCI card holders.

Meanwhile, if there is a case of a medical emergency or detain the family, Indians too can travel abroad taking advantage of this window, provided they have a visa for at least six months.

The stranded individuals making the cut will be flown in the same non-scheduled flights which will be used to bring back stranded Indians from various countries.

Meanwhile if any seafarers are keen to take up job opportunities abroad, they too can avail this facility, provided the names are cleared by the Shipping Ministry.

However, even those who qualify will not necessarily be able to be flown out. It ultimately depends on the country they are travelling to and their recent guidelines of admission of foreign passengers. Only if that box is ticked, will the Civil Aviation Ministry confirm their ticket, says the SOP.

Meanwhile, no prize for guessing that the cost of the flight will have to be paid by the passengers because it’s not an evacuation exercise. Also the passengers will be subjected to necessary medical screening before they can board the flight where only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed. While inside, baic health hygiene and precautions like wearing a mask will be compulsory.

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Outraged China asks India to refrain from supporting Taiwan

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India China Border Sikkim

New Delhi/Beijing, May 23 : Outraged by the subtle support that the ruling BJP extended to the democratically elected government of Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has asked India to “refrain from such acts.”

On Wednesday, in an unprecedented move, two parliamentarians of the BJP, Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan, ‘virtually attended’ the swearing-in ceremony of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and sent her congratulations. Tsai was sworn in for her second term.

As most of the international travel remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic which originated in Wuhan city of Hubei province in China, Lekhi and Kaswan were among the 92 dignitaries, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, representing 41 countries, who virtually participated in the ceremony.

Though the Indian government did not officially participate in the event, the presence of two well-known BJP MPs miffed China so much that its Foreign Ministry without naming anyone on the same day objected and hoped everyone would “support the just cause of Chinese people to oppose the secessionist activities for ‘Taiwan independence’ and realise national reunification.”

Now a counsellor (parliament) of the embassy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in New Delhi, Liu Bing has registered CCP’s protest against India’s participation in the ceremony by writing to both Lekhi and Kaswan. Liu Bing shared a copy of the letter with the IANS.

In his complaint, Liu called Lekhi and Kaswan’s congratulatory message to President Tsai “utterly wrong” which needs to be “corrected”.

“The one-China principle, enshrined by the UN Charter and its relevant resolutions, is a generally recognized norm in international relations and a general consensus of the international community,” he claimed.

Liu Bing reminded the parliamentarians that “the Indian governments have pledged to adhere to one-China principle since the bilateral ties were established seventy years ago.”

“Any wrong signals” including the message of congratulation to President Tsai, Liu warned, “will encourage those separatists to go even farther on the wrong and dangerous track, which would ultimately undermine the peace and prosperity of the region.”

He strongly urged the BJP parliamentarians to “refrain from such acts and instead do good to support China’s great cause of unification.”

Describing President Tsai as “the locally elected leader in China’s Taiwan Province”, Liu said that “unfortunately, the authority led by her in Taiwan province has refused to accept the ‘1992 consensus’ that both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one China and will work together towards national unification.”

“On the contrary, Madam Tsai has never renounced to seek ‘Taiwan Independence’ and kept engaged in separatist activities in one way or the other,” he wrote in the letter.

Since the Communist Party of China gained control of the mainland China in 1949, pushing out the Republic of China (ROC) government to the island state of Taiwan, the political status of Taiwan has remained uncertain. The ROC was replaced by the PRC’s membership at the UN in 1971. The PRC refuses diplomatic ties with countries that recognize Taiwan as an independent state.

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