About 9% of Delhi’s population is above 60 years of age, and close to 40 percent of these senior citizens live below the poverty line. They continue to face issues concerning safety and lack of basic amenities. The disintegration of the joint-family system has compelled them to take shelter in the limited number of Old Age homes in the city.
 
With no effective assistance coming from the administration, I realized that further help was needed to improve the situation. I constituted the Senior Citizens Federation of India under the guidance of my father and former Delhi Assembly Speaker Shri Charti Lal Goel, to give voice to the needs of the Senior Citizens in Delhi. The federation has been organizing demonstrations, workshops and meetings to raise the problems faced by the citizens living in their twilight years. Protests are held against the price hike, increasing number of crimes against elderly citizens, meager pension amount or other concerning issues. While conferences and workshops held to create awareness amongst the senior citizens about their rights and duties.
 
One such event is Senior Citizens’ Conclave which is held regularly at Talkatora stadium, to deliberate on the condition of a large number of senior citizens who are neither provided any support by the government nor by their own families. The first conclave was graced by Advaniji who shared his views on the issues faced by senior citizens and the ways through which senior citizens contribute to the development of the society. A booklet titled ‘Senior Citizen Information Book’ has been released in this regard.
 
Through conclave, a charter of demands is being put out, such as creation of a National Commission for Senior Citizens, fast track courts for speedy redresal of grievances, free medical insurance for those from the BPL segment, increase in monthly pension and recreational centers in residential colonies. Besides, it would be better if a mechanism is explored to use the unclaimed money from the accounts of deceased senior citizens for the welfare of other senior citizens.
 
For the past 5 years, I’ve been visiting parks and public places every morning to meet senior citizens and understand their issues and convince them to come together to form a group. A dedicated website www.seniorcitizenindia.org, launched by Smt. Najma Heptulla, former Dy. Chairperson of Rajyasabha, is already in place. The website was launched to create awareness about the various schemes and facilities provided by the government to the senior citizens. It also provides various emergency numbers for their reference. The website is a sincere attempt to draw people’s attention toward the plight of senior citizens. They have spent their entire lives shaping the society we live in; it is time we now extend a helping hand to them.
 

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My visions for Delhi stems from these inspiring words of Swami Vivekanada. I sincerely believe that Delhi has enough number of brave, bold men and women who can make it not only one of the best cities.

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