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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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Strawberries to write a new chapter of development in Jhansi

According to the Jhansi District Magistrate, when the two families in Jhansi cultivated strawberries, we drew inspiration from them and decided to organise the ‘Strawberry Festival’ in Jhansi.

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Lucknow, Jan 16 : Jhansi which is well-known as the land of valour is all set to write a new chapter and strawberry cultivation would play a pivotal role in transforming the region. The land of Jhansi in Utttar Pradesh is most suitable for the cultivation of strawberries and to promote its cultivation, a ‘Strawberry Festival’ is being organised in Jhansi.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would inaugurate the ‘Strawberry Festival’ from January 17 to February 16. During this festival, the cultivation of strawberry would inspire people to take it up throughout Bundelkhand, including Jhansi.

According to Jhansi District Collector Andra Vamsi, farmers could earn better income through strawberry cultivation. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is personally taking a keen interest in the development of Bundelkhand, which is one of the backward areas of the state.

The CM said strawberry cultivation has been started for the first time in Bundelkhand. This region was never known for fruits. Jhansi district is known for its production of pulses, oilseeds and ginger. For the first time, two families in Jhansi without any help from the state government have successfully achieved the feat of cultivating strawberries. These families with the help of drip irrigation and sprinklers cultivated strawberries in the region showing that strawberries could be grown in Jhansi and Bundelkhand. If strawberry cultivation gets a boost in Jhansi, farmers would get a new source of earning a better income.

According to the Jhansi District Magistrate, when the two families in Jhansi cultivated strawberries, we drew inspiration from them and decided to organise the ‘Strawberry Festival’ in Jhansi. DM Andra Vamsi explained that people would be encouraged to cultivate strawberries by organising workshops during the Strawberry Festival. The people would be told how to cultivate strawberries and how it will increase their income.

Strawberry cultivator Happy Chawla told IANS that 1.5 acres have been used for sampling. It would produce an estimated 10,000 kg which would be available at a rate of Rs 100 per kg in the market. If the strawberries are produced and sold properly, then the farmers would get a fair price for their produce and earn a handsome profit.

According to Gaurav Garg, an expert on strawberry cultivation, strawberry farming could end the plight of farmers in Jhansi and Bundelkhand. One kilogram of strawberries from a strawberry plant is available for nearly Rs 70 to Rs 80. The strawberries grown in Jhansi have the same taste as the famous strawberries of Mahabaleshwar. If strawberry cultivation was encouraged in Jhansi and Bundelkhand, it would be in the interest of farmers.

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‘What killed Maradona?’ shows the flipside of life of a football god

It isn’t quite the same territory as Asif Kapadia’s account of Maradona’s years in Italy but gives enough information to provide a sense of closure to those fans of the legendary forward who still suspect foul play in his death.

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New Delhi, Jan 15 : Diego Maradona’s death on November 2, 2020 was followed by a flood of tributes from around the world and all walks of life. His death had been attributed to a heart attack but it wasn’t this alone that caused arguably the greatest footballer of all time to die at the age of 60.

It is this point that the Discovery Plus documentary ‘What Killed Maradona?’ tries to put across. It features interviews with writers and journalists who have followed Maradona’s life along with his former fitness trainer Fernando Signorini and his former Napoli team mate and captain Giuseppe Bruscolotti. It also features interviews with health experts and psychologists who give a perspective on the kind of toll the rough nature of the sport in the era that Maradona was playing in, the rudimentary manner in which he was medicated for his injuries and his addiction to alcohol and cocaine kept chipping away at his health, particularly the strength of his heart.

Additionally, it also gives a brief insight into the mental and physical toll that comes with the kind of adulation that Maradona received. One of the ways in which he coped with it is by separating himself into two different individuals — ‘Diego’ was the player whose job was to play football and take care of his family while ‘Maradona’ is the larger than life figure that people in Naples and Argentina adore.

Just over 40 minutes long, the assortment of individuals that lend their voices along with footage from Maradona’s playing days and after helps the documentary paper over the repetitive nature of the footage and, towards the latter stages, a few abrupt editing cuts. It isn’t quite the same territory as Asif Kapadia’s account of Maradona’s years in Italy but gives enough information to provide a sense of closure to those fans of the legendary forward who still suspect foul play in his death.

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If vaccine is reliable, why no govt functionary took shot: Manish Tewari

“While Covishield has not drawn ire of eminent medical experts, the Covaxin has been questioned, and by not allowing people to choose the vaccine that to take it militates the doctrine of informed consent that lies at the heart of medical ethics,” he added

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s biggest vaccination drive in the country, the Congress launched its attack on the Centre saying vaccines were being allowed to be used without the mandatory trials of Phase 3.

Speaking to IANS Congress leader and MP from Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari asked if the vaccine is so reliable then why no important government functionary has taken the shot?

He said that in the every country of the world the head of the government has taken the vaccine, in US, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have taken the vaccine shots. In UK, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have taken it and other countries there respective heads of state have done the same thing.”

“In India, why has no responsible functionary of the government taken the vaccine shots first if it is so safe and reliable,” Tewari asked.

He said, “As the vaccine has been rolled out, there are certain disturbing and obfuscated questions with the government using a soaring rhetoric of the vaccine nationalism. The first question about the efficacy… is that in the absence of a regulatory architecture — requiring licencing of the drugs and vaccines for the emergency use… It is perplexing that same has been permitted by the Drug Controller.

“While Covishield has not drawn ire of eminent medical experts, the Covaxin has been questioned, and by not allowing people to choose the vaccine that to take it militates the doctrine of informed consent that lies at the heart of medical ethics,” he added

Modi earlier launched the vaccination drive aimed at ending the pandemic which so far has killed 1,52,093 people in the country and ravaged the economy.

Addressing the country digitally, the Prime Minister said that India managed to make two ‘Made-in-India’ vaccines in a very short period which usually takes years.

Modi said that avoid “rumours” as the Drug Controller General of India has approved the vaccines for emergency use.

Lauding the efforts of scientists who are involved in vaccine research, Modi said they deserve special praise for making these vaccines and that “the vaccines will provide us a decisive victory against the deadly pandemic”.

The Prime Minister further reminded people to get two doses of the vaccine, explaining that “there should be a gap of almost one month between the first and second dose”.

“Only two weeks after the second dose, your body will develop the necessary strength against coronavirus,” the Prime Minister said.

Noting that this kind of vaccination campaign on such a large scale has never been done in history, Modi said: “India is vaccinating three crore people in its first phase of vaccination starting today and the government will bear the cost of the vaccination to be administered to healthcare workers”.

In the second phase, the Prime Minister said, “We have to take it to 30 crore”.

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