“I am 76 years old and the only breadwinner in the household,” says Ramlakhan as we spread our legs in his front yard.
We were in Ballopur, 10 kms from the India-Nepal border, in Kutlupur district of Uttar Pradesh. “My son succumbed to an unidentified illness, a few years ago. I suffer from severe back pain but regardless have to continue working in the sugarcane fields. I have not received a single rupee after my retirement as a pension. Whenever I go to the bank, the “babu” sitting there says that my money has not been credited and I should come again some other day. The day hasn’t arrived in the past sixteen years, though”, continued Ramlakhan.
There are more than 36 people in the village of Ballopur who have never received their pension. Even those like Ramu who somehow manages to get his due, has to be content with a huge chunk of the total pension held by the bank. The villagers are left gawking at the impenetrable web of corruption, in which they are tangled in for as long as they can remember.
With inputs from Aaryan Tandon