The government wants ministries, departments and also private agencies to adopt ’60 years’ as the uniform age criterion to define senior citizens as to address anomalies in extending benefits to the elderly. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is contemplating to bring in an amendment in the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007, to implement this change.
The MWPSC Act defines senior citizens as any person who is a citizen of India and has attained the age of ’60 years and above’. The phrase ‘… and above’ is being manipulated by several agencies to deny benefits under senior-citizen clauses by adopting different age limits, a government official said.
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“It came to our notice that several government departments have adopted different age criteria for extending the benefits and the concessions meant for the elderly. Similarly, some private insurance companies have set different age limits,” the official said. The eligibility criteria for extending travel concessions to senior citizens by Air India was until recently 63 years. Last week, the national carrier lowered it to 60 years.
According to the official, the Air India issue was taken up by former social justice minister Kumari Selja during the previous UPA government but had remained unresolved. The Social Justice Ministry again took it up recently with Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, following which the age limit was revised. In the Indian Railways, the eligibility for availing of concessions in the basic fares for women is ’58 years and above’ while for men it is ’60 years and above’.