Acknowledging Senior Citizens’ Rights And Benefits In India

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Index

  1. Introduction 
  2. Challenges Faced By Senior Citizens In India
  3. Issues Of Elder Abuse And Harassment In India
  4. Article 25 Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights
  5. Human Rights Of Older People
  6. Overview Of The Senior Citizen Act 2017
  7. Article 41 Of The Indian Constitution
  8. The Maintenance And Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizens Act, 2007
  9. Definitions In The Maintenance And Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizen Act, 2007
  10. Protection Of Life And Property Of Senior Citizens
  11. Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  12. Personal Laws Basis 
  13. Government Initiatives For Senior Citizens In India
  14. Senior Citizen Card In India
  15. Retirement Benefits And Pension Schemes For Senior Citizens In India
  16. Online Application Process For Old-Age Pension
  17. Tax Benefits And Definitions For Senior Citizens In India
  18. Insurance Schemes Catering To Senior Citizens In India
  19. Private Health Insurance Providers
  20. Conclusion 

Introduction 

Senior citizen is a term used as a substitute for an old-aged person. Generally, it refers to individuals who have passed through the retirement period or are pensioners. The retirement period varies in different workplaces depending on the retirement policies of various countries.

In India, a person who has attained the age of sixty years or more, irrespective of their job status, is considered a “senior citizen of India.”

In the context of banking in India, any person who is a citizen of India and is above the age of sixty years is regarded as a senior citizen.

For female citizens in Indian banks, a female who is a citizen of India and has reached the age of fifty-eight years is considered a senior citizen.

Challenges Faced By Senior Citizens In India

In India, pension schemes vary based on the rules and policies of the workplace. Some retirees receive a pension, while others are not eligible. Typically, senior citizens receive only half their salary as a pension, making it difficult to manage living expenses post-retirement. Additionally, as physical strength deteriorates with age, medical expenses increase, further straining their finances. The rising cost of healthcare significantly impacts the economic stability of senior citizens.

The likelihood of health deterioration is higher in senior citizens compared to younger individuals. Aging leads to physical weakness, including bone deterioration and other bodily changes. In India, economic challenges often prevent the elderly from accessing regular health check-ups, exacerbating their physical and physiological problems.

Busy lifestyles and hectic work schedules of the younger generation limit the time they can spend with their elderly parents. Retired senior citizens often have little to do and crave companionship and interaction with their children. The lack of interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and depression, as they feel less useful and more inferior. Moreover, physical limitations restrict their ability to go out and socialise. After retirement, meeting new people becomes challenging, and as their friends age or pass away, their social interactions decline, leading to a diminished social life.

Issues Of Elder Abuse And Harassment In India

After retirement, financial problems often lead senior citizens to prefer living with their children. However, many children’s attitudes towards their elderly parents have changed in recent times. Since senior citizens are no longer able to contribute financially, they are often treated as burdens. This mistreatment includes frequent harassment and verbal abuse at home. Their suggestions are dismissed harshly, reflecting a growing trend of elder abuse in India. News reports increasingly highlight such harassment cases, underscoring the need for respect and care towards senior citizens who have contributed significantly to their families, society, and country.

In India, daughters typically feel a stronger sense of responsibility towards their own parents than towards their in-laws. After marriage, a woman often finds it challenging to adjust to the new rules and dynamics of her in-laws’ household, leading to dissatisfaction. This strained relationship can worsen when in-laws age and become dependent. Past grievances may resurface, prompting the daughter-in-law to mistreat and harass her elderly in-laws. This issue is prevalent in India, prompting the introduction and amendment of laws to protect senior citizens from such abuse.

Article 25 Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every individual has the right to an adequate standard of living, including support in cases of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, and old age.

 

Human Rights Of Older People

The right to life of older people must be safeguarded by law. They are entitled to the right to liberty, ensuring that every senior citizen in India can live their life with full freedom. Older people also have the right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment, meaning they should be treated with dignity and respect. Additionally, they are entitled to the right to a fair hearing, which ensures that tribunals handle their cases efficiently and deliver verdicts free from bias.

Overview Of The Senior Citizen Act 2017

The Senior Citizen Act 2017, enacted in 2007 and initiated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, aims to provide justice, maintenance, and welfare for senior citizens. The Act’s objective is to protect the life and property of senior citizens and provide shelter through old age homes.

The Senior Citizen Act 2017 mandates that senior citizens and parents who cannot cover their living expenses receive maintenance. Children, grandchildren, and relatives are legally obligated to support the maintenance of their parents and grandparents. If an individual is not receiving the entitled support, they can seek assistance from the Tribunals under the Act.

The Act also safeguards senior citizens’ property. If a senior citizen transfers their movable or immovable property as a gift and the recipient fails to provide the promised maintenance, the transfer can be declared void on grounds of fraud, coercion, or undue influence.

 

Article 41 Of The Indian Constitution

Article 41 of the Constitution of India mandates that the state provide public assistance for the welfare of elderly people, within the limits of its economic capacity. This provision ensures that the state supports the betterment of senior citizens.

The Maintenance And Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizens Act, 2007

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, was enacted to ensure justice and maintenance for senior citizens and to promote their welfare. Its key objectives include protecting the life and property of senior citizens, providing shelter through old age homes, and ensuring both economic support and a speedy trial for senior citizens to secure their right to maintenance.

Definitions In The Maintenance And Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizen Act, 2007

Maintenance under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007, includes providing food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance, and treatment expenses.

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The term “parent” encompasses both the father and mother, including biological parents, adoptive parents, and step-parents.

In the context of this act, “children” refer to sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters. Minors are not included in this definition.

A senior citizen, as defined in the act, is any person who is a citizen of India and has reached the age of sixty years.

If a senior citizen does not have biological children, any legal heir who is eligible to inherit or take up the senior citizen’s property is considered a relative under the act.

Welfare” in the context of this act refers to the provision of essential amenities such as food and healthcare to senior citizens.

 

Protection Of Life And Property Of Senior Citizens

The Act also addresses the protection of life and property for senior citizens. If a senior citizen transfers their property, be it movable or immovable, to another person as a gift, and the recipient fails to provide the promised maintenance or support, the transfer can be invalidated on grounds of fraud, coercion, or undue influence.

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Prior to 1973, the Code of Criminal Procedure did not have any provision for parental maintenance. However, in 1973, Section 125 was incorporated into the Code, specifically addressing the issue of maintenance for parents. This section requires parents to demonstrate neglect or denial of maintenance by their children to qualify for support.

The Code of Criminal Procedure, being a secular law, extends its applicability to individuals of all religions and communities. This ensures that the provisions for parental maintenance are universally applicable.

Notably, Section 125 also imposes the responsibility of providing maintenance on married daughters, further expanding the scope of support for parents under the law.

Personal Laws Basis 

The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, a part of the Hindu Code Bills, aimed to ensure maintenance for family members, including parents. Under Section 20, if parents cannot sustain themselves financially, they are entitled to maintenance from their child.

In Muslim Law, both sons and daughters are obligated to maintain their parents, mirroring the parental responsibility of caring for children. Needy parents find protection under this law for maintenance.

However, Christian and Parsi laws lack specific provisions for parental maintenance, necessitating recourse to the statutory section of the Code of Criminal Procedure for justice in such cases.

Government Initiatives For Senior Citizens In India

The Government of India has implemented several schemes aimed at enhancing the quality of life for senior citizens:

  1. Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP): Administered by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, this program focuses on providing essential amenities like food, shelter, medical care, and entertainment to ensure a dignified life for elderly citizens. It also supports seniors engaged in productive activities through various governmental and non-governmental entities.
  2. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana: A Central Sector scheme funded by the government, Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana targets senior citizens below the poverty line, offering free assistive living aids such as walking aids, hearing aids, and wheelchairs. The scheme is implemented by the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO).
  3. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS): Managed by the Ministry of Rural Development in collaboration with the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), IGNOAPS provides non-contributory pensions to Indians aged sixty and above, irrespective of their economic status. The pension amounts are Rs. 300 for those aged 60-79 and Rs. 500 for those above 80.
  4. The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, launched by the Government of India in 2017, offers financial security to individuals in their old age. Under this scheme, depositing Rs 1.50,000 guarantees a minimum monthly pension of Rs 1000, while a deposit of Rs 7,50,000 ensures a monthly pension of Rs. 5000, with policyholders also earning interest on their deposits.
  5. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) focuses on enhancing healthcare for seniors. It includes initiatives like establishing geriatric OPDs and wards in district hospitals, clinics at community health centres, and weekly clinics at primary healthcare centres.

Senior Citizen Card In India

In India, senior citizens can access various government benefits through senior citizen cards issued by different states. Here’s what you need to know:

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Citizenship: Applicants must be Indian citizens.
  2. Age Requirement: The minimum age to apply for a senior citizen card is sixty years.
  3. Residence Proof: Applicants must provide government documents proving permanent residency in the respective state.

Online Application Procedure:

  1. Visit the official website of your state to access the online application form for the senior citizen card.
  2. Attach two recent photographs to the application.
  3. Include address proof and age proof along with the application.
  4. Complete the registration process.
  5. Once registered, the application undergoes verification, and upon approval, the Senior Citizen Identity Card is issued to the applicant.

Retirement Benefits And Pension Schemes For Senior Citizens In India

As individuals in India age and retire, they often face financial challenges. To address this, the Government of India has implemented various initiatives to support senior citizens.

Upon retirement at sixty or after completing a minimum of five years of service, Central Government employees are entitled to retirement benefits, also known as retirement gratuity. This gratuity is calculated as 1/4th of a month’s Basic Pay plus Dearness Allowance (DA) for each completed six months of qualifying service. Employees with 33 years of service receive 16 times their Basic Pay plus DA, up to a maximum of Rs 20 lakhs.

National Pension System (NPS):

The National Pension System is a voluntary contribution scheme in India, primarily designed for government employees. It offers a structured way for individuals to contribute towards their retirement savings.

Atal Pension Yojana, previously known as Swavalamban Yojana, aims to provide retirement security and encourage savings and investment. The Government of India also contributes 50% of the subscriber’s contributions, but this benefit is exclusive to those not covered by any Statutory Social Security Schemes and not taxpayers.

To avail benefits under Atal Pension Yojana, individuals need to have a bank account. The minimum age for joining is 18 years, and the maximum age is 40 years.

Online Application Process For Old-Age Pension

The process for applying for old-age pension online varies by state. In Delhi, applicants need to visit the official Government of NCT of Delhi portal, fill out the Old Age Pension Scheme application, provide their Aadhar card number, and attach necessary scanned documents. The District Social Welfare Office reviews the application, and after verification, approved applicants receive assistance directly in their bank accounts.

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The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) is a non-contributory pension scheme introduced by the Ministry of Rural Development in partnership with the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) in India. Its primary goal is to provide pensions to Indian citizens who have reached sixty years of age, encompassing those above and below the poverty line.

Under IGNOAPS, there are two types of pensions based on age. Individuals aged 60 to 79 receive Rs. 300 per month, while those above 80 receive Rs. 500 per month. To qualify, applicants must meet specific criteria:

  1. Age Requirement: Applicants must have attained sixty years of age.
  2. Below Poverty Line (BPL) Status: Applicants must belong to the Below Poverty Line category.
  3. Exclusions: Individuals with multiple disabilities within the age range of 60-79 and holding a BPL card are ineligible.

Application Process for IGNOAPS is as follows :

  1. Obtaining the Application Form: Applications can be obtained from the Social Welfare Department in the applicant’s area.
  2. Completing the Application: Applicants must fill out all required information accurately.
  3. Document Submission: Alongside the application, applicants must attach an annual income certificate and a domicile certificate.
  4. Submission Locations: Rural applicants submit their forms to Tehsil Social Welfare Officers, while urban applicants can directly submit to District Social Welfare Officers.
  5. Verification and Recommendation: Officers verify the application details, and the Social Welfare Department recommends beneficiaries.
  6. Final Decision: The District Level Sanctioning Committee (DLSC) makes the ultimate decision regarding the sanctioning of pensions.

Tax Benefits And Definitions For Senior Citizens In India

The Income-tax Act, 1961 defines a “Senior Citizen” as any person who reaches the age of 60 years during a financial year. Additionally, an individual who attains the age of 80 years or more is categorised as a “Very Senior Citizen” under the same act.

Section 80C Deduction: Every Senior Citizen in India is entitled to deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, as outlined in the Senior Citizens Savings Schemes rules of 2004.

Income Tax Guidelines for Pensioners: Income tax obligations for Senior Citizens (above 60 years old) and Super-Senior Citizens (above 80 years old) in India vary based on the amount of pension received.

Income Tax for Senior Citizens (Above 60 years old): 

  1. For those receiving an annual pension of Rs. 3 lakhs or less, no income tax is applicable.
  2. In cases where the annual pension falls between Rs. 3 lakhs and Rs. 5 lakhs, a 10% tax rate is applied.
  3. For annual pensions ranging from Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 10 lakhs, the income tax rate is 20%.
  4. Any pension exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs annually incurs a 30% income tax.

Income Tax for Super-Senior Citizens (Above 80 years old)

  1. Super-Senior Citizens receiving annual pensions of Rs. 5 lakhs or less are exempt from income tax.
  2. For annual pensions ranging from Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 10 lakhs, a 20% income tax rate applies.
  3. Pensions exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs annually for Super-Senior Citizens attract a 30% income tax rate.

Insurance Schemes Catering To Senior Citizens In India

Government Health Insurance for Senior Citizens – Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojan (RSBY) is a government health insurance initiative designed for economically disadvantaged individuals. Senior citizens benefit from a top-up via the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHI) under RSBY. Any Indian citizen aged 60 years or above qualifies as a “senior citizen” and is eligible for Rs. 30,000 coverage.

Varistha Mediclaim Policy targets senior citizens aged between 60 to 80 years. Its primary goal is comprehensive disease coverage and hospitalisation insurance.

This policy offers:

  1.  Rs. 2,00,000 coverage for critical illnesses.
  2.  Rs. 1,00,000 coverage for hospitalisation.
  3. Assistance for organ transplantation, albeit with limitations.
  4. Coverage for emergency ambulance services.
  5. Covered critical illnesses include cancer, artery surgery, heart strokes, paralysis, and renal failure.

The policy’s duration is one year, necessitating annual renewal. Upon submission, activation typically occurs within 30 days of application.

Additionally, the “Hope – Health of Privileged Elder” policy is tailored for senior citizens in India, offering coverage for specific medical treatments and illnesses.

Eligibility Criteria:

  1.  The policy is exclusively available to Indian senior citizens aged 60 years and above.
  2. Applicants must provide a medical report from an authorised diagnostic centre designated by the insurer, including tests like glycosylated tests, urine tests, eye tests, and X-ray reports.

Coverage Details:

  1.  Only diseases specified within the policy’s guidelines are covered.
  2. Coverage is applicable only for hospitalisation and treatment within India.
  3. Cashless hospitalisation is limited to Rs. 1 lakh.

Coverage Limits:

  1.  The policy offers a minimum coverage amount of Rs. 1 lakh per year.
  2. The maximum coverage amount under this policy is Rs. 5 lakh per year.

The Group Medical Insurance scheme caters to groups, associations, institutions, or corporate bodies with more than a hundred members and a centralised administration point. This policy covers hospitalisation charges and domiciliary expenses during hospitalisation, specifically for medi-claims. The sum insured ranges from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 5,00,000, with premium packages varying between Rs. 175 to Rs. 12,450. Individuals aged between 5 to 80 years are eligible to hold this policy.

Introduced in 2018 by the Central Government of India in collaboration with Ayushman Bharat Mission, the Jan Arogya Bima scheme aims to manage primary, secondary, and tertiary care systems. It covers preventive and promotive health measures, providing medical expenses to Indian citizens, including senior citizens.

Moreover, Both private and public sectors offer the Senior Citizen Mediclaim Policy, providing coverage for treatment, surgery, and medical injuries. This policy is available for senior citizens aged 60-80 years, with coverage up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs. The policy can cover both the individual and their spouse until they reach 90 years of age.

Eligibility and Pre-Health Check-Up:

Before accessing the benefits of the Mediclaim Policy, customers undergo a pre-health check-up, with expenses borne by the customer.

The Senior Citizen Mediclaim Policy encompasses various benefits:

  1. It covers pre-hospitalization and post-hospitalization expenses for accidents and critical illnesses.
  2.  Cashless treatment is provided, with direct coordination between policymakers and hospitals for expense coverage during treatment.
  3. Pre-hospitalization expenses within 30 days and post-hospitalization expenses up to 60 days are covered.
  4. Policyholders can claim 25% of the assured sum for surgeon, anaesthetist, medical practitioner, and consultant fees.
  5. Additional services cover blood pressure, hypertension, and diabetes patients with an extra premium.
  6. Emergency ambulance expenses up to Rs. 1000 are covered.
  7. Treatment for chronic disorders is included, with an extra 10% premium charge.
  8. Renewal benefits offer complete reimbursement for health check-ups if no claims are made for four continuous years.
  9. A 10% discount on the spouse’s premium is provided.
  10. Coverage extends to conditions like Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis, joint replacement, and knee replacement.
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The Senior Citizen Saving Scheme (SCSS) is designed to enhance the financial stability of senior citizens in India by offering them a means of long-term savings and regular income.

Benefits of SCSS:

  1.  Easy registration process for applicants.
  2. Tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act for senior citizens.
  3. Flexibility in choosing investment packages.
  4. Competitive interest rates for senior citizens.
  5. Option to open multiple Senior Citizen Saving Accounts.

Eligibility Criteria for SCSS:

  1. Individuals must be at least 60 years old to open a Senior Citizen Saving Account.
  2. Those who have retired based on superannuation can open an account at 55 years of age.
  3. Retired Defence Service personnel are eligible.
  4. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are not permitted to open SCSS accounts.

Several banks provide the Senior Citizen Saving Account, including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank, Union Bank of India, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, UCO Bank, Syndicate Bank, Central Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, and Dena Bank.

The Life Plus Senior Citizen Account offers various features and privileges tailored to meet the needs of senior citizens and they are:

  1. Competitive interest rates.
  2. Unlimited card transactions.
  3. Free debit card issuance.
  4. Money multiplier facility.
  5. Accessible banking services everywhere.
  6. Free internet and mobile banking.
  7. Nomination facility for account holders.

Privileges of Life Plus Senior Citizen Account: 

  1. Free SMS facility.
  2. Specialized Senior Citizens Desk services.
  3. “Life Plus” debit card with exclusive benefits.

LIC Jeevan Akshay is an immediate annuity plan that allows individuals to receive payouts without waiting for a specific deposit period to end. This policy requires a substantial lump sum deposit for purchase.

Characteristics of LIC Jeevan Akshay:

  1. Premiums are paid in a lump sum.
  2.  Minimum purchase value: Rs. 1,00,000 (offline) and Rs. 1,50,000 (online).
  3. No maximum limit for policy purchase.
  4. Eligibility: Individuals aged 30 to 85 years.
  5. Individuals above 85 years are ineligible for this policy.

Private Health Insurance Providers

ICICI Lombard Overseas Travel Insurance provides comprehensive coverage for urgent medical and non-medical expenses during international travel. This policy caters specifically to senior citizens aged 71 to 85 years and has a validity period of 180 days.

Benefits of ICICI Lombard Overseas Travel Insurance

  1. Offers cashless medical services internationally.
  2.  Covers claim benefits up to $15,000 for illness and injuries.
  3. Allows claims for loss of checked-in baggage and handbags.
  4. Provides the option to extend policy validity for an additional 180 days.

The ING Golden Years Retirement Plan, offered by ING Life Insurance Company, is a negotiated annuity plan with several distinctive features:

  1.  No bonus facility available.
  2. Provides 1% compound interest to the pension account.
  3. Offers 4% compound interest per annum for the first five years, followed by 1% thereafter.
  4. Flexible premium payment term adjustments.
  5. Allows policyholders to choose their retirement date for payout.

The Smart Invest Pension Plan is designed to accumulate funds through limited pay without charging allocation fees. It also offers maturity bonuses up to 300% of the premium, depending on the chosen policy.

Key Features:

  1. High allocation charge in the first year.
  2. Maturity addition percentage is based on the term of the policy.

 Eligibility criteria :

  1. Term rider applicable for ages 18 to 50.
  2. Maturity age eligibility between 40 to 80 years.
  3. Minimum annual premium of Rs. 50,000 for annual premium policy.
  4. Minimum top-up premium of Rs. 1,000, with no maximum limit.

The New Jeevan Dhara policy introduced by LIC is a Deferred Annuity plan that enables policyholders to receive regular pension payments after a specified term.

Premium Collection Process:

  1. Premiums can be paid yearly, half-yearly, quarterly, or monthly.
  2. Deduction of premiums from salary is allowed.
  3. Premiums can be collected throughout the policy duration until the policyholder’s death.
  4. Single premium payment option is available.

The National Policy on Older Persons, initiated in January 1999, aims to improve living conditions for older individuals by addressing various aspects:

Objectives of National Policy on Older Persons:

  1. Promoting awareness about the benefits of planning for old age, including spousal care.
  2. Encouraging filial responsibility towards elderly parents.
  3. Encouraging NGOs to provide additional care and support for older persons.
  4. Taking measures to prevent cruelty and harassment against older individuals.
  5. Providing training to personal assistants responsible for the health and well-being of older persons.
  6. Promoting awareness among the elderly for leading productive and independent lives.

The National Policy on Older Persons includes the formulation of a comprehensive Plan of Action to ensure effective implementation.

Administrative Enhancements:

  1. It establishes a separate Bureau for older people within the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  2. It mandates the formation of Directorates of Older Persons at the state level.

Public Participation and Oversight:

  1. The policy solicits public feedback on the implementation programs.
  2.  It aims to establish an Autonomous National Association of older people.
  3. It encourages active participation from local self-government bodies to enhance support and services for older individuals.

The National Council for Senior Citizens was established due to increasing incidents of cruelty and harassment towards senior citizens, aiming to address these issues and provide justice. It advises both the Central and State Governments on policies and welfare measures for senior citizens, enhancing the effectiveness of committees working for their welfare.

Objectives of National Council for Senior Citizens:

  1. Advising governments on policy development and implementation.
  2. Providing feedback on program implementation.
  3. Establishing nodal points for grievance resolution at national levels.
  4. Acting as a liaison between older individuals and the Government of India, advocating for their concerns and needs.

Conclusion

Old age is often likened to childhood, where individuals require care and support. Despite the challenges, parents selflessly provide for their children. Similarly, children should cherish and care for their elderly parents, recognizing their sacrifices and contributions. The government, while focusing on the younger generation for development, must not overlook the contributions of senior citizens. Measures are being taken to enhance provisions and safeguards for senior citizens, ensuring their rights to life and property. Initiatives such as pension schemes, mediclaim policies, and tax exemptions are aimed at improving the quality of life for senior citizens and honouring their invaluable contributions to the nation.

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