The past month has seen a canard of lies, coordinated media campaign to discredit the efforts of the Modi Government to serve the most affected sections of society. The second wave of COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused great loss to many families and has brought immense pain in its aftermath. The central government under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi feels the pain of people and has been working swiftly to address the needs of all especially those of weaker sections of society and other vulnerable groups.
Serving the elderly
There is undeniable scientific evidence that senior citizens are generally the worst affected by COVID-19. Based on this knowledge, Govt of India prioritised our elderly population in its vaccination program. The first leg of the world’s largest vaccination drive focussed on covering frontline workers and senior citizens. It is a result of this foresighted policy that almost 50% of our elderly population has received the first dose and are able to protect themselves from COVID-19.
To further ease up the process of vaccination, Govt allowed setting up of ‘near to home’ vaccination centres for our elderly and divyangjan. These centres are aimed at facilitating the entire vaccination process for our vulnerable population and safeguard them from this deadly virus.
In these series of steps, The Indian government has recently started state-wise call centres (Toll-free number: 14567) in major states under the ELDERLINE project. The helpline has been doing a tremendous job during the ongoing COVID pandemic. For instance, in Kasganj district, a hungry and homeless 70-year-old elderly woman was provided with the comfort of an Old Age Home through the helpline.‘Elderline’ also helped a 70-year-old ex-serviceman stranded and stuck at the Chandausi Bus stand for almost one and a half months, to reach his home.Elderline is touching hundreds of lives on a daily basis.
Most recently, the government has launched the SAGE (Seniorcare Ageing Growth Engine) initiative to give impetus to the silver economy and serve as “one stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups. An amount of Rs. 100 crores have been earmarked to promote these start-ups and create a more robust eldercare ecosystem in India.
Taking care of orphaned children
Fulfiling our duty towards the children who have been orphaned by this pandemic, the Modi government launched ‘PM Cares for Children’ scheme which offers support in terms of finance, health, and education. The monthly stipend from a corpus of 10 lakhs will enable the person to sustain herself from 18 years of age onwards. On reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump sum for personal and professional use.
Support for primary education has been provided through Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc under the overall framework of the Right to Education Act. As far as higher education is concerned, the child will be assisted in obtaining an education loan for Professional courses / Higher Education in India and the interest in this, loan will be paid by the PM CARES. Moreover, as an alternative, scholarship equivalent to the tuition fees/course fees for undergraduate/ vocational courses as per Government norms will be provided to such children under Central or State Government Schemes. For children who are not eligible under the existing scholarship schemes, PM CARES will provide an equivalent scholarship.
Ensuring dignity to transgenders
As the nation grapples with COVID19, members of the Transgender community have been critically affected by the pandemic majorly because of serious disruption of livelihoods. The current situation in the country is compelling this marginalized community into extreme distress and an acute shortage of basic needs like food and health. Our government took no time to provide a subsistence allowance of Rs.1500 to each Transgender person as immediate support to meet their basic requirements.
Also, as transgenders facing mental health problems do not feel comfortable about seeking help due to the stigma around it, a free helpline (Helpline Number 8882133897) for distressed Transgender Persons owing to the current pandemic for psychological support and mental health care has also been made functional by our government to provide counselling services.
Clear directions have also been issued to state governments asking them to ensure that there is no discrimination against Transgender persons in existing Covid /vaccination centres. They have also been requested to conduct awareness drives especially reaching out to the Transgender community in different vernaculars to ensure they are informed and aware of the vaccination process. A request has also been made to the states to organize separate mobile vaccination centres or booths for vaccination of Transgender persons such as those taken up in the states of Haryana & Assam.
The above are just a few of the various steps taken by the government to ameliorate the condition of our people. It confirms our commitment to serve all sections of society and especially those who are at the margins and are worst affected by the pandemic. Contrary to the orchestrated false campaign to attack the Modi government, we have been at the forefront of this fight and have taken decisive, timely interventions to offer required support to people. Recently, the Prime Minister has taken another step in this direction by extending the Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till Diwali. Our actions have always been guided by Gandhiji’s talisman and are specially aimed at healing the wounds of weak, poor, vulnerable and marginalized sections of society.
(Authored by Sh. Rattan Lal Kataria, Minister of State, Social Justice & Empowerment and Jal Shakti)