Guwahati, Sep 16: In today's world, when most people, in spite of having cushy jobs, leave their old and ailing parents to fend for themselves, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Assam has come up with a new law to ensure that at least some of these elderly citizens in the state do get required care and attention from their children.
On Friday, the Assam Assembly passed a bill which made it mandatory for all the government employees to take care of their parents and siblings with disabilities or erring employees will lose 10 per cent of their salary.
Under possibly the first such legislation in the country, the amount deducted from their monthly salary will be given to their parents and siblings so they could support themselves.
The Assam Employees Parents Responsibility and Norms for Accountability and Monitoring Bill, 2017, aims "to provide for accountability for employees of the state government or any other organisation in Assam (under the government) in taking care of their parents and divyang (disabled) siblings and in matters connected therewith or incidental thereto".
Earlier, introducing the PRONAM bill, state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said there are instances of parents having to live in old age homes as their children do not look after them.
The PRONAM bill has been brought in so that if employees do not take care of their parents and divyang siblings 10 per cent of their monthly salary will be deducted for their upkeep, he said.
The purpose of the bill, he said, was not to interfere in the private lives of employees but to ensure that their parents and siblings facing neglect are able to lodge a complaint with their respective departments. The legislation was passed by the House by voice vote.
Sarma said a similar bill will be introduced later for MLAs and MPs, employees of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and private companies operating in Assam.
Former chief minister and opposition Congress leader Tarun Gogoi termed the legislation an "insult" to the Assamese society, which, he said, has a tradition of looking after old parents and siblings.
Claiming such a legislation interfered in the private lives of government employees, Gogoi said, "Our culture is to not only look after our old parents and siblings, educating them, but also to take care of even cousins and other relatives."
However, many disagreed with the former CM's view on the bill. "It's a pan-India phenomenon. Many children don't look after their parents in their old age. The bill is in the right direction. The government should also start awareness programmes focusing on elderly people and their issues," said Brijesh Sharma, a retired government employee, who stays alone in his home in Guwahati after the death of wife.
Sharma said both his children stay in the United States. "I have no financial problems, as I get monthly pension. But I am a lonely man," lamented Sharma.