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India

Why India Isn't Taking Care Of Its Elderly

Protests are on in New Delhi demanding a bonafide old-age pension. Right now, most Indians don't qualify for benefits, and those that do only get $4 a month.

Average life expectancy in India is 65, but many live much longer
Average life expectancy in India is 65, but many live much longer
Bismillah Geelani
NEW DEHLI — Mayni Mossamat is a 75-year-old widow from the eastern state of Bihar. She has trouble seeing, and can hardly walk. She begs for food and spends her nights on the street. But recently, with the help of an activist group, she managed to arrive in India's capital to demand a decent national pension for the elderly.
"I have 4 sons but they don't look after me," she said. "They beat me and forced me to leave the house just because I asked them to give me some money." Mossamat said she needs the money for medicine, but her grown children say it's a choice between providing for her or for their own children.
"My daughter-in-law refused to give me food because I am not able to help them with the house work," she added.
Mosammat is now in New Delhi with hundreds of other elderly people who have gathered the past three weeks from across India with similar stories, demanding a universal old-age pension from the government as more and more families are unable to take care of the older generation. The Indian government already has a pension scheme running for elderly people. But it only covers those living below the poverty line, and is a mere $4 a month.
The protest has been organised by a collective of NGOs known as Pension Parishad.
"Every senior citizen should get pension," says Parishad leader Purnima. "The amount paid as pension should be at least $40 a month or the equivalent of half the amount of minimum wages. The pension amount should be increased according to the inflation index the same way salaries are increased."
India is home to the world's second largest population of elderly people, after China. But a recent global survey also ranked India amongst the poorest nations for growing old. Over the next 20 years, the population of people over 65 is expected to grow to 200 million, as life expectancy continues to increase.
Amna Bi, 65, is from the western state of Maharashtra. She lives with her son but he doesn't earn enough to feed the family. "It's a tough life in old age. You have less income and more needs," she says. "I worked and earned as long as I could, but now I have no more energy left, neither for work nor for the hardships of life."
The government had promised to revise the pension scheme after a similar protest by the elderly people last year, but has failed to do so. The protesters now want an assurance that the issue would be addressed in the next session of the Parliament.
But the well-being of the aging is not just a financial question, says Manjira Khurana, country head with NGO Help Age India. "We do a survey every year and we find that elder abuse in India is rising. Abuse in urban India has risen exponentially simply because of rampant inflation and because of increasing life expectancy. There's no social security, there's no health coverage so they are completely at the mercy of their children."
Khurana says India needs special laws to protect elderly people. She also urges the government to set up government-run old age homes. "We are no longer a society that prides itself on caring for elders. We are no longer a society where the elders are venerated, where they are treated as fonts of wisdom."
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Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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