No pensions for five months: How Jharkhand’s poor were left poorer during the pandemic

Mar 3, 2021 | All posts, Opinions and contributions, Relevant news and stories

In one district, pension funds were diverted to make payments under the Centre’s Covid-19 relief package.

Aarefa Johari

Article posted on Scroll.In. 2 March 2021

In 2020, the state government of Jharkhand, India stopped distributing pensions to nearly a million older and disabled people.

According to Florian Juergens, Global Social Protection Advisor, ‎HelpAge International:

For any government to suspend the payment of pensions during COVID-19 would be heart-breaking and outrageous. Evidence from India and elsewhere clearly shows that older people are not only the hardest hit by the virus itself, but also suffer from devastating blows to their livelihoods, resulting in widespread poverty and hardship.

Social protection systems – and especially pensions – should be there for people in such times of need. To cut the lifelines of poor older people at the moment they need it the most is to disregard their human right to social security. It will greatly contribute to increased misery amongst affected older people and their families.

That a government could simply stop the payment of pensions in the middle of a crisis like COVID-19 reinforces the importance of enshrining social protection as a legal right that cannot be take away at will. States should take the pandemic as an opportunity and reminder to finally realize older people’s human right to social security.