At 69, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no sympathy & compassion for the elderly population of India. In the pandemic of Coronavirus, there is a turbulence in the life of elderly people in India. More than 85 percent lower-income group elderly people living in remote villages of India are not in a position to afford expensive sanitizers and masks. Studies indicate that some elderly people use unhygienic sand to wash their hands as they cannot afford even soap. Water scarcity in the villages of India has further crippled the life of the elderly population in India. Wheelchair if at all available in government hospitals are broken. In most Indian states, more than 75 percent of government hospitals have no wheelchair for the use of elderly people.
A retired gynaecologist who has been chair of National Accreditation Board and Hospitals & Healthcare Providers, said he looked for a vacant bed for two days for his 93-year old diabetic father who tested positive. “I had all the contacts but nothing seemed to work initially. When he was finally admitted, we could not enter the isolation ward… there was no communication. It becomes distressing not to know how your loved ones (Indian Express 23rd June 2020). If this is happening with such a well-connected retired official then one can think of what will be the condition of a poor man or woman. Private hospitals are minting money despite government cap on the lab test for the Covid-19 patients. From 2014 to 2019, it shows that the Narendra Modi government in India has paid no attention to the health infrastructure.
Since the first lockdown in India due to the Coronavirus, the majority of the elderly people are confined either to their homes or to the hospitals. They are feeling lonely and isolated when they are at home. They are tortured by the health staff when they are admitted to the hospital infected with the virus. Media reports show that many dead bodies of elderly people disappeared from the government hospitals in the state of Maharashtra. Nears and dears of the deceased elderly had lost opportunity even to see his or her face. What a tragedy? There is a long queue in front of the electric furnace. Some of the children have reported that they had paid a bribe to the management of the electric furnaces to burn the body. This is called New India of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It is supposed that the retired elderly from the middle –income group draw their income mostly from the Bank Fixed Deposits or the Retirement pension. State pension varies from state to state in India. There is around 3.23 Crore of the 10.38 Crore elderly beneficiaries of old-age pension in the country ( Deccan Herald). Despite protests by Elderly people, various state governments did not raise state pension. However, the Elderly people approached the Narendra Modi and pleaded for the enhancement of government pension but all in vain.
Since 2014, the Narendra Modi government has constantly been decreasing Bank interest on Fixed Deposit that has jeopardized the livelihood of the elderly people in India. The government pension is irregular. In the pandemic of Coronavirus, media reports show that retired elderly people are not receiving a government pension on time. If at all they receive, half of the pension is already deducted without assigning any reason.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi without intense deliberations declared the first lockdown in the country on 25 March 2020. More than 300 million people lost their jobs in India. Children who were supporting their older parents stop supporting them because they are left with no regular source of income. In the pandemic, the Narendra Modi government did not give a single penny to the elderly people.
Elderly abuse has doubled in the pandemic of Coronavirus, According to a recent study done by Agewell Foundation, New Delhi, 71 percent elderly face mistreatment in old age mostly due to financial reasons. 62.1 percent elderly in India do not get long term, palliative care and 67.6 percent of the elderly being taken care of their family members have to babysit their children. It has been observed that the elderly people are mistreated by government officials when they go to the department to make inquiries about their pension. In Digital India of Narendra Modi, it is the elderly people who are suffering the most as the majority of the elderly people do not know how to operate a computer. The central and state government do not extend a helping hand to them in fulfilling the complex paper formalities to avail the pension.
In case of a family dispute over property, the elderly people suffer the most as the judicial system is corrupt and the police personnel do not behave properly with the elderly people in India. Not only this but also there is no separate comfortable place to sit for the elderly people in most of the Police Stations in India. They are treated like other criminals by the Police Officer. In New India of Narendra Modi, nothing is changed for elderly people.
In an era of advancement of technical devices, the life span of older people increased, at the same, the economic threat to their pocket also increased due to expensive medication and hospitalization. In the old age, older people need a lot of money to deal with routine medical expenses. In the case of hospitalization, the life of 99.9 percent of older people becomes miserable. Government hospitals are crowded in India. Private hospitals that are on the government penal exploit every patient particularly the older one.
In the absence of economic support by the Narendra Modi government, older people left with no choice than to die either prematurely or languish in hospital. Low –income older people run from pillar to post from one government hospital to another for seeking an appointment from the doctor especially a specialist or a renounced one. Blessed are those who have some political connection to get a bed in the government hospital.
Doctors are still considered God in India but greed and corruption have already penetrated the medical profession. A new breed of doctors violates flagrantly the oath of the medical profession. It is common among the doctors who pay heavy capitation fee to get admission in a recognized medical college. Various studies and surveys conducted by experts in the medical profession show that the element of greed and corruption is commonly found among the doctors who obtain a medical degree from other countries and practices profession in India. Past studies also show that the same doctors indulge in several types of corrupt practices in connivance with the manufacturers of medical equipments and medicines. The health system has collapsed under India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Regulatory bodies do not bother about the quality of medicines produced by Indian companies. Some companies import cheaper medicines in India and sell without hindrance or penalties under the nose of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian Health System is in dire need of funds to be pumped by the Narendra Modi`s government to upgrade government hospital infrastructure. The Narendra Modi government debt rose to 84.5 percent of GDP. And general government fiscal deficit is likely to rise to 11.5 percent as predicted by Fitch Rating. Moody Investor service projected the Indian economy to shrink 3.1 percent in 2020. In Western countries, bank levy fees on your money if you keep in Fixed Deposits. In the same way, the Narendra Modi government in India is closely implementing the western banking system.
In that case, the older population in India should not expect anything good from the Narendra Modi government.
Dr. Rahul Kumar, PhD, Chairman ‘Marginalized in Danger’ . The views expressed by the author in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the paper.