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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Indian General Election 2009:Wake up call for Senior Citizens

An Appeal by Senior Citizens NGO to All Political Parties

Election for Indian Parliament the 15th Loksabha are going to be held in April & May 2009.Its a gigantic exercise for one of the world best known democracy.

But still after more then 62 yrs. of Independence and democracy experiment there are segments of people who are not treated at par with others, there is injustice and discrimination towards them.

One of the most neglected and ignored segment is of Senior Citizens. Elders are not considered as part of mainstream, there is unjust treatment to those who gain 60 years of age, they are suddenly considered ‘Retired’, good for nothing. Government and Civil Society are not bothered of this experienced and skill group of people.

Population of people above 60 years of age is estimated to be 86 million in 2008.The Life span has increased by 60% in 60 yrs. India has today second largest population of Senior Citizens.

The Indian subcontinent boasts of our ‘Great Joint Family’ ‘The Traditional Family’ System where we used to respect, care and love our elders, our parents. Due to Globalization and New lifestyle there is increasing number of Abuse, Neglect and Abandon case with regards to Senior Citizens.

India is gradually undergoing a demographic change. With decline in fertility and mortality rates accompanied by an improvement in child survival, better health care and increased life expectancy, a significant feature of demographic change is the progressive increase in the number of elderly persons. The gradual Urbanization of Rural India is also a new trend to worry.

Over and above a Step Motherly treatment by Federal and State Government is making situation worse for our Elderly. There is ministry for Women, Children, Youth, Environment; there is National Commission for Minority, Women and Population but the 7.5% of Elderly are represented by the congested and overloaded Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) .Senior Citizens is only part of NICE in NISD of MSJE.

The Indian government after many years of debate finally declared the National Policy of the Older Persons (NPOP) in January 1999, the International Year of the Older Persons. The policy highlights the rising elderly population and an urgent need to understand and deal with the medical, psychological and socio-economic problems faced by the elderly.However the Federal Government emphasis on Intra Ministry roles. It delegates roles to State government and NGO. The Central government has washed off its hand smartly giving responsibility to State government. Till date the NPOP is not implemented.

In a reply to one of the RTI application it was shocking to note that most of the ministry like Finance, Transport, Health, Education were not aware of NPOP, nor there was any concert plan. It is sad to note that still today there is NO uniformity of age for classification of senior citizens between different ministry and state government.

It has been more then 10 years now for NPOP but it has not been implement by Central government nor adopted by many states government.

With regards to protection from Law and Social Security there has been no tough initiative. In December 2008 Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act was passed by central government but still it has been not implement by many states and also those state who have implement the act, the local government has not made serious effort to make Tribunals and address the problems. There is need for pan-india political and social will.

Though there are handful of NGO and Association working for the cause of Senior Citizens, There is an urgent need for United Forum to fight for injustice and issues of seniors, there is need to address the problems and work United on solution for the benefits of Elderly.

A Private and Public partnership can be one way to provide innovation services and products. Psycho and social problems of the elderly needs to be attended urgently.

World over the Concept of Community base services and Ageing in Place is now promoted. The Welfare State concept is loosing its grip as government around the World can’t afford the expense. UN has now accepted the fact the Traditional Family are the best place to Age and best place to provide Care for Aged.

We Indians also should not expect much from Government except Laws, Protection and Innovative schemes for Social Security. Civil Society – People, NGO’s, Corporate should come forward and work for the welfare of Elders.

But all this will happen until Senior Citizens come together, Until Senior Citizens raise their voice. There is urgent need to be united and make a joint Call to all the Political Parties and Government for Separate Ministry for Senior Citizens. There is need for Proactive and Vibrant Ministry. We at ‘Silver Inning Foundation’ have been making this demand for last one year in various forums and conferences.

The growing population and voice of senior Citizens can’t be ignored. At present India has around 7.5% of Elderly out of total population, but Senior Citizens constitute to around 13% of Voters.

This 13% huge and powerful and unrecognized segment of voters can’t be left alone, they can’t be ignored. Political Parties has to include projects and programmes for the benefits of Elderly in their respective Manifesto. Government has to address the issues and problem of ever growing population of Elderly. This is warning call to all political parties if you ignore elderly then this strong 13% will rise and will make days difficult for you.

Senior Citizens don’t be scared to ask your political party / leader what they have done for your and what are their plan for your welfare. Vote for those who will support your cause. Support those who will work for less privilege and who are non corrupt. You have to help yourself. Remember last Parliament had around 300 Member of Parliament (MP) above age of 60yrs and they have not spoken for you.

Following are the Recommendation and Demand for political parties and the Government for the befit of Senior Citizens:

  1. A separate and dedicated Ministry for Elderly
  2. Review of NPOP and make it ‘National Senior Citizens Act’
  3. Immediate implementation of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act
  4. National Commission for Senior Citizens
  5. Uniform Age to be declared for classification of Senior Citizens, which should be 60
  6. Years
  7. Four Digit National Helpline
  8. To have different plan/policy for Oldest Old, people who are 80yreas plus
  9. Comprehensive Medical Insurance plan
  10. Comprehensive Social Security/Protection Plan, like tax when young
  11. Promotion of Multi-service community Gero-Care Centre
  12. Promotion of Intergeneration Solidarity / project and course in High Schools and Colleges
  13. Specialization of Geriatrics in Medical and Gerontology in MSW
  14. Geriatric Wards in Municipal and Private Hospitals
  15. Professional Training
  16. Comprehensive Law to protect interest of Senior Citizens
  17. Promotion of CSR and NGO for Elderly
  18. Promotion of R & D for various aspects of Geriatrics and Gerontology
  19. Promotion of R & D for products and services
  20. Promotion of Private sector in Product manufacturing and Services
  21. To have National Nodal agency for Elder Abuse
  22. To promote Community services
  23. To promote Ageing at place
  24. To appoint Welfare officer or special cell in each Police Station for Elder Abuse, similar to Child welfare officer / Women cell
  25. Special Training and Awareness campaign for Empowerment of Elderly
  26. Promotion for Micro Credit facility
  27. Promotion of Life Long Learning and Recreation centers
  28. Promotion of organisation for Second career opportunity
  29. Promotion of programmes for Social Inclusion and Mainstreaming
  30. Promotion of Equal Opportunity and Non Discrimination
  31. To mark World Elders Day as National Event in all government department, private sectors and Educational institutions
  32. Promotion of Universal Design: Elder Friendly Infrastructure / City / Designs
  33. Monitoring and Guidelines for Old Age Homes, Care centers and service providers, to protect rights of Elderly
  34. National Dementia Policy
  35. Promotion of Old Age homes only for needy, its should be criminal offense if Elders are pushed into Old Age Homes
  36. To adopt Rights of Elderly like Child Rights
  37. To have guidelines of Ethics for media when they report and show Senior Citizens
  38. Guidelines for Police Station with regards to Senior Citizens
  39. Subsidy for Health care , Long Term Care and Medicine for those who cant afford
  40. Promotion of ICT and Technology
  41. Promotion of Health and Fitness from young age
  42. Promotion of Alternative and Indian Medicine for benefits of aged and all
  43. Promotion of Private sector in medical Service, Insurance and Care with protection of interest for Elders

Please remember that “Ageing is not 'lost youth ‘but a new stage of opportunity and strength”.

Let’s come together and Work for Society for All Age. Let’s support the cause and let Elderly live in peace with security and dignity.

About Silver Inning Foundation:

Silver Inning Foundation is registered ‘Not for Profit’ organisation dedicated for Senior Citizens and Its family. It is part of Silver Innings.Com www.silverinnings.com a comprehensive and dedicated Website for Elderly. It is one of the youngest and growing organisations launched on 10th April 2008.

About Sailesh Mishra:

Sailesh is Founder President of Silver Inning Foundation and has experience of around four years in the Elderly segment. He found that this segment is most neglected and ignored. He has left his well paid corporate job to work in the field of social work. He has won Karamveer Puraskaar 2008 and is Won UnLtd India Investee 2008 award. He has also undergone ‘International Training programme in Social Gerontology’ at INIA,UN at Malta. He is also actively involved with SSS global and Alzheimer’s Society of India (ARDSI). He has launched a dedicated Website for Elderly www.silverinnings.com. He also has to his credit two Blogs: http://peopleforsocialcause.blogspot.com/ and

http://silverinnings.blogspot.com/ .

Vital Statistics:

  • Aged as per 2001 Census 76 Million: 7.5% of Total population (76 million) ,in 2008 it was estimated 86 million.
  • Aged Male : 37 million: 7.1% of total population
  • Aged Female 38 million: 7.8% of total population
  • According to UN by 2050, nearly 20% of India’s population will comprise of people over the age of 60 years
  • According to UN urban population in India will increase from 30 % in 2010 to more than 50 % by 2045.

  • According to UNICEF Life expectancy in India :

Ø In 1951 42 yrs

Ø In 1970 49 yrs

Ø In 1990 58 yrs

Ø In 2005 64 yrs

Ø In 2008 68.6 yrs

  • 63 % old population in 1991 (36 million) is in the age group 60-69years. Often referred to as young old or not so old, while 11 % (6 million) is in the age group 80 years and over i.e in the older old or very old category.
  • Poverty among the Elderly: estimated that about 6 % of the poor persons, i.e. about 16.3 million persons above the age of 60 years and poor.
  • Illiteracy: In 1981, among the elderly males, only 34.79 % were literate as against 46.89 % in the overall male population. Among the female elderly, only 7.89 per cent were literate as against 24.82 % in the overall female population.
  • Employment: the employment of rural and urban elderly during the period from 1961 to 1981, there seems to be a marked downward trend -due to adoption of new technology or methods of production difficult for the elderly or work conditions have become harder and unsuitable for them.
  • Dependency: Majority of the elderly in both rural (50.78 %) and urban (57.35%) areas are totally dependent on others for economic support. About 15.20 % of the elderly in rural areas and 13.71 % of the elderly in the urban areas are partially dependent on others.
  • Living Arrangements: About 7.31 % of the elderly in rural areas as against 5.54 % of the elderly in the urban areas are living alone. This is quite contradictory to the popular notion that the rural families tend to keep their elderly relatives with them more than their urban counterparts.
  • Health Problems and Physical Disabilities: 45 % of the rural elderly are chronically ill - 45.01 % men and 45.85 % women. In the urban areas, 44.82 % of the elderly (45.49 % women and 44.34 % men) are chronically ill. Cough and problem of joints are the most common health problems. As far as physical disabilities are concerned, in the rural areas, 5.4 % of all the elderly (6.8 % females and 4.4 % males) are physically disabled while in the urban areas, 5.5 % of all the elderly (6.7 % females and 4.7 % males) are physically disabled.
  • Elder Abuse: According to a rough estimate, nearly 40 % of older people living with their families are reportedly facing abuse of one kind or another, but only 1 in 6 cases actually comes to light.Most elders are ill-treated by their own children, who have emerged as the largest group of perpetrators at 47.3 %. Neglect is the most common form of abuse at 48.7 % followed by emotional/psychological, financial exploitation, physical abuse and abandonment respectively. There is growing number of insecurity, injustice and abuse in Elderly in Indi
  • Dementia and Alzheimer's: In India according to study by Dr.Saji approx 2.6% people over 60 yrs of age suffer from some form of Dementia and out of this 50% suffer from Alzheimer's.

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