One India One Pension (OIOP), a campaign launched in Kerala to press for universal pension, has expanded its footprints beyond the state, by forming whatsapp groups in other languages like Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada, Hindi and Gujarati.
The unique campaign is aimed at ensuring universal pension of Rs 10,000 each to all those above the age of 60 in the country, irrespective social status, skills, profession and the career.
The movement, launched around one year back, has nearly 600000 lakh followers on its Facebook page, as it got the attention of the people from around the world, especially the Keralites. The movement has called for a newspaper boycott from August 1 in Kerala, to protest against the apathy and neglect of the mainstream media in supporting the campaign. In answer to the call, many of the news-savvy Keralites have stopped subscribing the newspapers. Keralites, having the highest literacy rate in the country, are known addicts of newspaper reading in the morning. About 60% of the population reads newpapers even today, while the naitonal average is just 16%.
The organisers are planning to form ward-level groups and units across Kerala by August 15, to press the demand. There are also moves to take up the matter through judicial way, even as the movement is going ahead the political way.
The organisers say that the government would incur any further financial burden, if this universal pension would be introduced and would make sure that there would be direct financial assistance to the people.
“Nearly 10 percent of the population of India are senior citizens as per govt records. They are around 104 million people (104000000 ). If every senior citizen ( age 60 yr plus ) has to get a pension of Rs 10,000 per month, the total payout would be around 100 ( rounded value ) million multiplied by 10, 000 again multiplied by 12 months ie 12 lakh crores of rupees per annum. As of this year the central govt pensions have surpassed the total salary bill by more than 10 thousand crores reaching beyond 1.75 lakh crores,” says an online mass petition driven by the organisation. The online petition has already signature from over 60,000 people.
The campaign was launched by Vinod K Jose, Bibin Chacko and Biju M Joseph. Besides the central committee, there are already units in all 140 Assembly constituencies in Kerala. They have set a deadline of August 15 to finish creation of units in all 22000 wards of the local bodies in the State.
According to them, the States pay around Rs 9.6 lakh crores as pensions alone apart from Rs 1.8 lakh crores by central govt. “This shows that amount required to pay all senior citizens of our country 10000 per month is already being distributed as pensions. This is where reducing the current exorbitant pensions and bring in universal pension scheme gains importance. 10, 000 pension for all is easily achievable,” it says.
“OIOP movement is aimed at achieving the aims of socialism in the constitution as laid out in Article 37 Part IV directive principles of State policy which specifies The State shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations, that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women,” it says.
The online petition, seeking the mass support, is here.