Elders today face a new challenge. They need to be digitally literate to comply with the most basic of day-to-day living. For instance, it is preferred that they file their tax returns online. They also need to go online to link their PAN cards to Aadhaar cards. All these are proving to be a major challenge, especially for senior citizens who live alone without having younger adult children willing to take on these responsibilities.
In these last weeks, we got quite a few queries from senior citizens on the HelpAge helpline seeking support with help on the online return filing process. There are very few pensioners who have access to digital means and forced to use chartered accountants and pay sums they can ill afford for their services. Even the more privileged middle class and affluent elders, are more used to visiting banks and writing out cheques, rather than use online financial transactions.
This year there have been additional compliances imposed which impact income tax return filing such as the requirement of linking PAN with Aadhaar, compulsory quoting of Aadhaar in tax returns etc. which make the process harder for pensioners.
A question we need to ask ourselves is: In our enthusiasm to modernize and to go digital are we further marginalizing our Elders?
Now is there a solution to help elderly in this regard?
HelpAge India staff and volunteers are taking hundreds of sessions for elderly across the country to hand hold them through digital training classes. From making them do e-transactions on Bhim app and Paytm, to IT filing, from understanding Facebook, Skype and Google Map navigation to booking a cab through their smartphones, there is a lot that’s being done. Yet the effort to invest time and intent for our elders to make them digital citizens needs more support from all quarters to make a sustained impact. And the both the Govt. and civil society needs to actively pitch in!