Nitin Desai’s article, “Universal basic income or social security” (July 18), lays down the debate in a focused way. He is right when he says that at present individuals cope with unemployment, large health expenditure, old age and other emergencies by falling back on traditional systems. This vulnerable section of the population, which includes the widows living in Varanasi and Vrindavan, needs immediate care.
The department of social welfare could be entrusted with designing financially sustainable schemes for the elderly in these two cities. Nothing makes people prouder in their old age than to be able to support themselves. They have to be engaged in developing soft skills, managing small-scale industries that pay well under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan like manufacture of soaps, toilet and fabric cleaning material, moping apparel and moping clothing, napkins, dusters, brooms, fabric softeners and anti-bacterial solutions. These items would be in good demand as the country takes a big step with Swachh Bharat.
Besides, a couple of films on the success of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the above mentioned manufacturing units for elderly workers and newspaper clippings lauding their work would instill a feeling of dedication and exuberance among widows and raise their self-esteem. Papad making is another area where the elderly can be employed.
These activities after proper soft skill training by local trainers would supplement their income and keep them engaged.
N K Bakshi Ahmedabad
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