Untold stories: Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Nepal

Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Nepal

I am living with my wife in Sanepa in Kathmandu. I am retired now but had an exciting career in government. I got into politics and became deputy prime minister and finance minister. Now, I am the chairperson of Man Mohan Memorial Foundation.

How did you get involved in campaigning for older people's rights?  

Well, I was first involved in politics when I was a teen - at the age of 16. From then I slowly and gradually started to get involved in campaigning. When I was finance minister in 1995, I started a programme to provide a monthly allowance for people aged 75 and above amounting to 100 rupees (US$1). Now, the allowance is 2,000 rupees (US$20) to everyone who is 70 and above age. Since then, I have been campaigning for the rights of older people and on the different issues they face. 

Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your age?

Maybe because of my engagement in politics, I personally never had to face any discrimination. But I have a bitter experience of seeing discrimination where political parties do not give a seat for those aged 70 and above. Similarly, I have also encountered discrimination even in my own family and relatives circle, and in the community.

What is your proudest moment as a campaigner?  

The thing I cherish is that the programme I started is being continued – and it is being continued in a good way. Now, the way of looking towards older people has changed tremendously. The way that individual people, family, society and a whole nation used to think about them has changed. They think of older people as valuable assets and love and respect them. I am happy that what I started before is being spread throughout the nation and has generated genuine interest in our cause. However, there are more things to do and we all have to work for it. 

What are you campaigning for right now, and how are you doing it? 

We are presenting our demands to the Nepal Government and political parties, focusing on the rights of older people to work, to a healthy, independent and safe life, and to be included in society. We are also making demands for an increment in the monthly allowance and changes to the healthcare system and social welfare policies. Being chair of Man Mohan Memorial Foundation, I have started a new campaign for daycare older age homes in each and every ward to provide older people with social engagement and refreshment. 

What effect has campaigning had on you as an older person? 

I can proudly say I have gained much experience and knowledge, especially because I am interacting with older people from different parts of Nepal. It brings insight into how older people think and how their days are passing by. 

How are things improving for older people in your country? 

I think older people are more loved and respected. They are heard more these days and the media has started to report on topics that concern older people. They publish day-to-day problems and issues. 

What needs to be done to improve the situation further?  

There are many areas and issues of older people that need to be improved. The most important thing for older people is to pass the long-term care act. Healthcare needs special attention. Government should strictly implement the provision clearly set out in the constitution, acts and policies. Similarly, a UN convention on older people is a must to strengthen older people's rights. 

Do you have a message for other older people around the world?

Don't feel worthless just because of your age. Be confident in your ability to contribute more and more like any other citizen.

And finally, what would your perfect world look like?   

Nothing and no one is perfect in this world. So, there is no doubt that the world will never be perfect. We need to deal with it each and every day, and struggle to make it as good as possible.
 
With thanks to the Nepal Participatory Action Network 
 

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Comments submitted for this page

  • Drona R KC (07 October 2018)

    Bharat Mohan is pioneer to initiate allowance to the older age people. In this interview if the interviewer would have focus little more deeper to dig out the key discriminations issues, challenges to the senior citizen and the key solutions would better. The health care and social security issues (financially and socially) are very important had to be discussed further more. Also the current generation gap and how to focus to minimize those gaps in our cultural context (unlike western cultures) are important issues to be addressed in such discussion/interview. Anyway overall this short discussion is interesting and has covered many important issues. Thanks

  • Dr Jib Acharya (06 October 2018)

    This statement is not pronouncing the major gaps about the senior citizen of Nepal. There are several key challenges for older people which includes engagement and empowerment when dealing with statutory authorities; financial worries; housing problems; health concerns; crime; isolation and lack of social contact. I do not think that this blog able to cover those issues. Besides this, is there any scientific social studies have been conducted by the government of Nepal? Where is the government’s clear roadmap to tackle these issues?

  • Sanju Koirala (04 October 2018)

    Thank you and your party leaders who supported you for initiating the old age allowance system. However, the monitoring of distribution of allowance system is still weak. As a result, many elderly are still not being able to benefit from it. As being a leader of one of the biggest political parties of Nepal and in the position to influence many leaders, I suggest you to start/lead a strong campaign for effective distribution of old age pension.

  • Basundhara Bhattarai (03 October 2018)

    1 But I have a bitter experience of seeing discrimination where political parties do not give a seat for those aged 70 and above- this sentence is confusing! Did he mean aged people do not get seats in the party meeting? Or in the parliament, because seats not enough to everyone?
    2. I think the credit of initiating of old pension for Nepali elderly should go to the Man Mohan Adhikari led government where Bharat Mohan served as a finance minister. It was the government plan, not the individual plan of Bharat Mohan (as claimed here) I guess.

  • Dr Narayan Prasad Shrestha (02 October 2018)

    Very interesting conversation and good work initiated by Former Finance Minister. However, I strongly feel that there is a need to form a forum (National Older People Forum) which can raise collective voice on Issues and problems of Elderly people for their better care and improvement.

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