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Reduce widow pension age from 40 to 18, experts panel tells government

  • In an attempt to assist a particularly vulnerable section of society, an expert group has suggested that widows should receive pension from age 18 instead of 40 as is currently the case. 

    The expert panel headed by former finance secretary Sumit Bose also recommended that widows be eligible for a one time grant for remarriage as well as waivers for education fees and skill development. The group has also recommended that pension schemes under the national social assistance programme should cover all target households except those which meet the “automatic exclusion criteria“under the socio-economic caste census.

    Noting that the amount of pension under NSAP is insufficient, the panel has said that this should be revised annually based on Consumer Price Index. Presently, only BPL households are eligible for these schemes. Seeking wider coverage of pension assistance for the disabled, old persons and widows, the panel has pitched for “universal coverage of all eligible persons “except those “automatically excluded“. “Below Poverty Line“ used to be the criteria for welfare schemes but SECC has mapped rural households based on individual deprivations like housing, skill, individual and family handicap. 

    The rural development ministry plans to use SECC data for targeting schemes based on a family's needs.Around 40% of 17.94 crore rural households mapped by SECC are “automatically excluded“ from the list of beneficiaries of welfare schemes. The expert group has suggested that widow pension be instituted for age group of 1839 years as excluding this group might deprive many with young children. 
     

    OUR TAKE

    The condition of widows in India is very poor. They live alone and in poverty after the death of their husbands. In the absence of financial independence, their hardships only increase. This is one of the major reasons behind their ouster from home because they’re seen as a financial drain on their families. Thus the recommendations made by the expert panel suggesting waivers in education fees and skill development will help in improving the status of widows in the society and will bring an end to the hardships faced by them.


     


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