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Retirement Politics

80-year-old men call a meeting of 70-year-old men to decide the retirement age of some 60-year-old people. This is what’s happening in India. My state of Kerala recently raised the retirement age to 60 for people working in the state’s PSUs. There were immediate protests from the Congress which recently elected an 80-year-old man as their president and the BJP which worships a 72-year-old Prime Minister who is all set for another term in the next election when he will be 74.

There is a serious unemployment problem in Kerala and hence hampering the opportunities of the youth for employment by raising the retirement age of existing staff is unjust. That is the argument. But Kerala’s life expectancy is 77 and why should one retire at 56? Instead of asking people to retire, the government should discover/create new job opportunities for the youth.

If politicians can continue to work at the age of 80, why can’t the common man too? Karunanidhi was in office at the age of 87. So was Jyoti Basu. Joe Biden is 79. 91-year-old Rupert Murdoch continues to rule the media. 92-year-old Warren Buffet is the chairperson of Berkshire Hathaway. We can cite umpteen such examples. Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, is 77. A significant number of Kerala’s MLAs are above 70. But when it comes to you and me, these oldies will decide when we should stop working. 

Now the flip side. Quite many of the government employees in Kerala don’t deserve to be in office at all. They have no work to do or they don’t do their work. You go to a government office to get your job done and they will harass you every way possible until you bribe them and their clerks and their peons and their drivers handsomely.

Take the simple case of the state’s government and government-aided schools. These schools hardly have students. There are two such schools in my village: one primary and the other high school. Both together have about 30 students and half as many staff. These staff are paid by the government and they get handsome pay packets. I teach in a school in the nearby town and the school is purely private. The school is funded totally by the fees paid by the students. There are 2300 students and over 100 teachers. It’s an efficient system in spite of the fact that the staff are paid far, far less than their government counterparts.

Why do we need government institutions at all, I often wonder. There’s hardly any work done there. 


  1. Money and power... that's all that matter age doesn't stand a chance.

    1. True. This present amendment is made to favour some particular individuals who are close to the CM, I think.

      Mercifully, KSRTC & KSEB Employees are not included. It would have been ridiculous otherwise. They are nothing more than highway thieves.

  2. Hari OM
    In both OZ and UK, retirment age is now 67. It gets moved every upward the closer a certain group of us (ie me and thee and such) get to it. Meaning that official retirement - and therefore pension - will never arrive. I am retired on a very small, but adequate (so far) private pension which is unlikely to last as long as I do. What will the government do with me then, if they have shifted the goalposts as to the pension I paid taxes for all those years and they don't want to give me... Will the youth they want to put in jobs be willing to pay for my food and board? All governments currently focused on 'growth economics' ignore their elderly - unless those elderly have money and power. YAM xx

    1. India pampers its government employees with good salaries as well as pensions. Private sector employees slog all life, get a pittance for wages, and are excluded from any worthwhile pension scheme. We have a terribly discriminatory system. But who cares? Those who have the power to care are the beneficiaries of the existing system, so they won't change it.

  3. You have a point about politicians staying in their jobs even at 90! Unjust. Absolutely. Honestly we need to work on our population if we must resolve these issues. All other solutions will only be temporary.

    1. Our politicians must change, I feel, for greater changes to happen. People are helpless without a leader. Our current leaders are all self-centered people.

  4. A very interesting and engaging post on the subject! It is business as usual for the average citizen. Policies will not change in line with their needs or welfare but interests of those in power.

    1. And now the pension rule is revoked! Why doesn't our government think before it announces policies? You're right, the ordinary citizen just has to go on.


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