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Saturday, October 20, 2012

A piece of Mumbai at the UN: The Metrognome | Much ado about Mumbai.

 Sailesh Mishra talks about representing India at the UN, and refusing to do Satyameva Jayate’s senior citizens episode in its original format.by Vrushali Lad | vrushali@themetrognome.in

A slight and unassuming man, Sailesh Mishra (45) comes across as soft-spoken and pliable. But then he begins to describe how he got associated with the senior citizens episode on Aamir Khan’s TV show Satyameva Jayate. “I got a call from Aamir Khan Productions in September 2011. A woman called saying that she wanted to meet me for an episode they were shooting on senior citizens for the show. Since we get many such requests (at his Mira Road-based NGO Silver Innings), I asked them to send me a letter and then we’d see.

The letter was brought the very next day, while the director of the show explained the concept of the episode in detail. But I soon realised that they were planning an episode to show elderly people as sad, abused, dependent human beings. I immediately told the lady, ‘Please tell Mr Khan that if this is what you want to portray on the show, I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Sailesh has always been a champion of the “happier side of old age”, which was why he started his NGO, Silver Innings, in 2008, as a means to help create a “sustainable gerontology”. He explains, “We often berate those who we feel are not taking care of the elders in the family. But you must understand, most children are not bad, they don’t wilfully neglect their parents. It is just that there are not enough options created by the government and society when it comes to elder care. Unlike in the West, we don’t have such services as assisted help for the elderly, or a service to provide groceries, or cooked food, or do other chores. We don’t even have enough NGOs that work for the causes of the elderly.”

Sailesh’s NGO was registered with the United Nations’ Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Ageing convention held annually in New York, last year, owing to the efforts of Susan Somers of the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA). “I got the opportunity of participating in the 3rd such OEWG held this year. On the opening day, the Indian ambassador gave a rosy picture of the current scenario of health care for the elderly in India. He even had the nerve to say, ‘Why do the elderly need rights? Their development is the responsibility of the society and their families. What can the government do?’”

Read in Detail : The Metrognome | Much ado about Mumbai.

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