Stories

New Age Home

There is a new business which has seen a sudden boom in the market and that is retirement homes. It used to be called old age home a while back and anyone living there was looked upon with sympathy and despair. But that is not the case anymore, retirement homes are no longer a taboo subject for parents or their children. Today these new age retirement facilities for many of our senior citizens are a place for peace and serenity.

Only a few years ago the very thought of old age home to an elderly person was a heartbreaking news. These places were looked upon as the “destination of abandonment” of one’s parents; a sad and final bon voyage to a life spent taking care of one’s children and many times grandchildren. Old age home became a place for abandon destitute of a sad group of people who came to this place just to wither and die. And this was true to many old people who had no choice but to spend the last remaining days, lonely and sad because traditionally in India it is expected by the parents that their children especially the son will take care of them in their golden years. But many times it did not happen and parents are left at these places for many a reason.

So many young Indians left our shore and set up new life in a new country and when the time came either they did not want their parents to be part of a their new life or the parents did not feel comfortable living in a foreign country where it can get very lonely for them. Anyways, no matter what the reason was, old age home was a word tantamount to sacrilege in Indian society and anyone who had to live there for any number of reasons always were looked upon with sad eyes.

But somehow over the last decade a change has taken place and old age homes were rebranded as retirement homes, a place where senior citizens can live a life of serenity in a tranquil environment. Maybe this concept has gained acceptance due to the fact that people who were in their 30s and 40s during the liberalization boom in India during the 1990s were able to make a considerable savings and are now accustomed to a lifestyle which might be getting cramped by living with their children. Or it’s just that as most of us who, living in cities, prefer to live in apartments and are finding it very difficult to have more than 3 or 4 members living in the same house because of space and privacy.

I remember living with my parents and grandparents under one roof for years and did not have any problem with regards to space or privacy. But one cannot blame the current generation who are now in their 30s and 40s who have taken full advantage of India’s economic growth and children of the millennial who do not know life without the internet.

This is now not only a very viable option for many people, but this is in fact fast becoming a booming business and the prospect of making money is very high. Everyday news of a new retirement facility being constructed with attractive offers hit the market and it is going to be the next big venture for various realtors and construction companies.

Now days the old age a home are no longer dreary but looks more like a resort facility where senior citizens are kept engaged with various activities which keep them engaged. Photos of vibrant and joyful senior citizens can be seen on newspaper ads or the internet. In such places one does not have to worry about cooking or cleaning and doing laundry.

Everything is taken care for them and people who live in these facilities do not have to lift a finger. This whole retirement facility has now become a concierge service.

Money can buy almost anything in this world; however there is sad and dark side to all of this. It seems they could reject application for some people who are not keeping that well because they want healthy old people and they do not come that often. They may tolerate basic ailments like back and knee problem and other problems attributed to old age, but anyone with a condition which requires consistent medical checkup will likely face difficulty due to return on investment by the service providers.

None the less the joy of spending your golden years with your family is no substitute to living in a retirement facilities no matter what comforts one may enjoy. But this does not mean the importance of living in a retirement facility is bad and all the comforts which come along with it. In the end, if the option of going to a retirement facility is a genuine choice but not compulsion, then nothing like it

It’s a business, plain and simple for many people who run Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and for many being associated with an NGO is a fashion statement. A place to go and eat snacks and gossip. But the real intent of helping those who are marginalized in our society, those in need of help the most is sadly forgotten. But that does not mean all NGO’s and people who are associated with it are not doing their job. Many people have dedicated their lives helping others and fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves. But something has to be done about some of the NGO’s who are in it just for the money. Even the Honorable Delhi High Court has called for toughening of licensing norms for NGOs observing that 99% of them are "fraud" and "merely money making devices" back in 2013.

The High Court Bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said “Most private run so called philanthropic organizations do not understand their social responsibilities. 99% of the existing NGOs are fraud and simply moneymaking devices. Only one out of every hundred NGOs serves the purpose they are set up for”. If this is not an indictment of the state of affairs of how NGO’s function and run in this country then there is no other explanation required.

Alternate Agenda

If someone wants to open an NGO, first the most important thing in this entire process is how well are you connected? The motive and the particular cause for which the NGO is created are last. Getting an NGO registered is not a difficult task and if one has a competent lawyer an NGO can easily be established. The main purpose to set up an NGO is to get a tax exemption because in India the NGO’s are exempted from corporate income taxes of the income of certain NGOs carrying out specific types of activities, with unrelated business income being subject to tax under certain circumstances which is used as a loophole.

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Also since it is very easy to register an NGO, people set up multiple organizations with no infrastructure to support it. One does not even need a starting capital because NGO is one business which required no investment. As mentioned in the beginning if someone wants to be successful, they must ensure they have proper contacts. Usually, a local politicians or a senior bureaucrat retired or otherwise will be handy. In India, almost all politicians have an NGO’s which helps them keep in social light and the day to day business is taken care of by a close relative or “Man Friday”.

Accountability

Too many people owning an NGO is a status symbol and in this line of work, the accountability of the person who is running the institution is also very less. In the name of helping people, one can earn and spend money in money ways.

  1. Buy a motor vehicle registered in the name of your NGO.
  2. Buy property registered under the umbrella of NGO
  3. Show personal travel expenses as work-related  and go on holiday under the pretext of conference
  4. Receive funding for program with falsified and manufactured data
  5. Under staff your organization and have relatives work for you

All this can make the life of an NGO owner very rosy and in India, we just love to leave an inheritance for our children and one can understand if this is property or jewelry, but NGO’s are also transferred from father to son. According to Societies Registration Act 1860, societies might be formed by a memorandum of association by any seven people associated as long as there is no blood relation among the board members. However, we are a land of finding loopholes in our laws and in many NGO’s some of the key positions within the organization are held by close relatives.

Resistance to change

There has been in recent times a moment to bring about change in how an NGO is registered, who should be allowed to register and what is the true motive behind establishing an NGO. Those who are genuine and want to help and make difference in the lives of others and also seeking transparency in how many of these so-called NGO’s perform are having their efforts throated by vested interest. Because running an NGO for the betterment of society was not the true motive. Easy money with almost zero accountability has made many people afraid of any laws which will bring more transparency which means the end of the business.

Why do we need NGO’S?

All is not lost because the organizations which are truly involved in improving our society and help the socially marginalized have gained trust and momentum. We need NGO’s in our society who are helping sex workers and their children, counseling rape victims and help bring more accountability in our political system. NGO’s keep society honest and brings forth issues which we have no idea are happening around us. Our effort must be to force our government to make the registration of NGO’s very strict and proper audit and compliance should be put in place. In India many people who are in need for help have received a lot of support like education, giving training on various trade and providing small loans to start businesses. If we take all this into consideration one can conclude and decide which NGO one should support and which ones should simply be ignored.

This rampant spawning NGO’s started by people in the name of helping our society is mushrooming all over our country like someone opening a tea stall on the roadside without a license must be stopped and action needs to be taken.