On the eve of his retirement from the police force, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey on Wednesday unveiled a proposed bill aimed at protecting the interests of senior citizens in Mumbai, which he plans to submit to the State government.
The bill was discussed at a programme held at the National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA), as part of Pandey's vision for senior citizens by the year 2030.
"I thought it is important to give senior citizens a voice of their own. I saw old people getting scared in police stations when they came for some help. I want to give senior people the strength to be confident. We have started a senior citizen forum which is online and we also held elections for it. We have made a Trust for the forum and a bill is ready which caters to the rights of the elderly with regards to seeking help from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport undertaking, and the officials will be held responsible and punished if they do not adhere to it. We hope this bill gets passed," Pandey said, addressing a jam-packed auditorium as the elderly from all classes thronged to hear the top cop.
Pandey said that the bill seeks to provide speedy and effective legal aid, medical assistance and other such forms of help to senior citizens who, according to him, are among the most vulnerable sections of society.
"Even I am a senior citizen and my vision for senior citizens by 2030 includes education for senior citizens in fields like the internet, e-commerce and social media. We can have workshops of two to three days to make them tech savvy, which is the need of the hour. In the medical field, I feel that we need a hospital specifically for senior citizens just like a pediatric hospital. On the legal front, I would really want the law to have strict or double punishment against criminals whose victims are senior citizens," Pandey said.
Seema Ratkar Bede, a senior citizen who works with Advanced Locality Management (ALM) groups in Mumbai, said, "We need to work for senior citizens at ward and zonal levels. We should add volunteers, policemen, psychiatrists and social workers in teams that will help out the elderly at the local level. They should also help them with law-related work and pension work."
Bede added that there is a need to inculcate respect for senior citizens among the children, as many senior citizens suffer disrespect from their families and children watch and imitate their elders. She also proposed daycare centres for the elderly to sit, relax and chit-chat, because they usually don't have any specific places for it.
Tanvi Mallya, who works in the field of mental health of senior citizens, said, "The elderly should take care of their emotional health because most of them start feeling lonely. They should make sure they do not depend on anyone and develop their own independence. Awareness regarding depression, dementia, Alzheimer's, etc should also be spread so that people start accepting it and working on it as it can happen to anyone."
Many of the attendees were of the opinion that the elderly had faced the worst of the pandemic, be it health-wise or in terms of the myriad crimes that started in light of the pandemic, be it in cyberspace or real life. Other suggestions voiced at the program included promoting good hobbies for senior citizens, a health diet and regular medical checkups.