India steps into the 71st year of its independence on 15th August, 2017. Having seen 16 governments, five wars with its neighbours and liberalisation of its markets, India is changing in every aspect. The country has grown in its economic, social and political strength. According to the Economic Survey of India, 2013-14, India’s GDP had jumped from Rs2.7 lakh crore to Rs57 lakh crore in these 70 years. Our military might and employment rate increased, the nation’s foreign exchange reserves have crossed $300 million and food crop production has also been increasing annually.
However, a democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people. Hence, its real test is the citizens of the state and their growth. The standards of life have seen a drastic increase in India, and employment opportunities for everyone have been made available. Policies are made for the benefit of all and on paper, which ensures better professional and personal satisfaction to the citizens. However, in reality, there is a significant portion of the population that has been going unnoticed for years.
The retired army veterans have been pushed on the sidelines for quite some time, not just by government but the private entities as well. While the government has been taking different routes to command respect for the army, the retired army personnel is struggling for its pension and legal aid. Service to the army veterans has received little attention by the corporates, as part of their CSR. Some companies like Sun Life Financial, Coal India Ltd. offer help in legal matters and measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents.
Retired officials felt that this could be due to lack of awareness regarding their condition, but CSR practitioners and advisors opine that companies believe armed forces veterans do not need assistance from the private sector.
Overall, the future of the retired persons of the country from any profession looks bleak. The Centre pays Rs 200 per month under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) to every Indian over the age of 60 and living under the poverty line. A report by the Economic Times and Indiaspend states that 61.7% of India’s elderly population, will be without any income security by 2050.
Citizens who have put their lives in danger at the border, or have worked all their lives to contribute to economic growth of the country deserve to have the state’s attention. After serving the country all their life, the least they deserve is addressal of their grievances, access to pension and a simple, untroubled life.
The CSR Journal Team