Welcome to Silver Innings Blog, Good Day

Powered by IP2Location.com

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Well-being of older persons mandated in the Constitution of India: Vice President

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the well-being of older persons has been mandated in the Constitution of India. He was addressing the International Day of Older Persons organized by the Helpage India, here today.



Shri M. Hamid Ansari said that Census statistics show that India has a youthful population, with over half the Indians being below the age of 35 but the fact often overlooked is that with increasing life expectancy, India is fast graying and that we have a large number of elderly- a growing and vulnerable segment which the society seem woefully ill equipped to manage.

The Vice President stated that the Indian society is undergoing rapid transformation under the impact of industrialization, urbanization and globalization and the traditional values and institutions are changing. As nuclear families become the norm, the family based social safety nets are no longer adequate and the transition from rural, agrarian set-up to urban, industrial way of life, migration from villages to cities and increasingly, abroad, forces the younger generation to leave their elders alone back home, he added. He opined that the finances are stretched as healthcare becomes expensive. The Vice President said that efforts should also be made for enhancing the productivity span of the elderly.

Shri M. Hamid Ansari said that we need a transformation in how we visualize and treat the elderly in our society. Health care services should be based on the felt needs of the elderly, which would involve a comprehensive baseline morbidity survey and functional assessment in health areas that are perceived to be important to them, he added. He further added that education, training and information needs of older persons will also have to be met. The thrust should be to identify the more vulnerable among the older persons - the poor, the disabled, the infirm, the chronically sick and those without family support, and provide welfare services to them on a priority basis, he opined.

The Vice President said that the non-governmental agencies need to be encouraged and assisted to organize services such as day care, multi-service citizen’s centres, outreach services, supply of disability related aids and appliances, short term stay services and friendly home visits by social workers.


Following is the text of the Vice President’s address:

“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,

Or so said English poet Robert Browning.

If one were to go by the TV portrayal of elderly in India, one could be forgiven to believe that the elderly in India are getting the all care and dignity they deserve by the younger generations. The reality, however, cannot be more different. Census statistics tells us that India has a youthful population, with over half the Indians being below the age of 35. What is often overlooked is that with increasing life expectancy, India is fast graying and that we have a large number of elderly- a growing and vulnerable segment which the government and the society seem woefully ill equipped to manage.

In India, as per the 2011 census, the population of senior citizens who are more than 60 years old, was 10.4 crore, which is 8.6 percent of the population. A report jointly brought out by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Help Age International says that by 2050 the number of elders will shoot up to 32.3 crore, constituting 20 percent of the total population. Many other countries are witnessing similar demographic change. But in India, the problem is compounded by two issues.

One, the Indian society is undergoing rapid transformation under the impact of industrialization, urbanization and globalization. Consequently, the traditional values and institutions are changing, resulting in the weakening of inter-generational ties that were the hallmark of the traditional family structure in India where the care of the elderly was a shared responsibility with the children taking care of their parents. As nuclear families become the norm, the family based social safety nets are no longer adequate. Transition from rural, agrarian set-up to urban, industrial way of life, migration from villages to cities and increasingly, abroad, forces the younger generation to leave their elders alone back home. Finances are stretched as healthcare becomes expensive.

The second issue is that nearly 90 percent of the elderly have worked in the informal sector and do not receive any post–retirement social security coverage, like pensions and medical assistance. They either continue to work beyond retirement age or suffer from neglect and alienation. The impact and reach of public social security infrastructure has remained limited and a large number of elderly have failed to benefit from the government schemes.

On the Global AgeWatch Index (GAWI) for 2014, India ranks 71st among the 96 countries. This when countries like Bolivia and Sri Lanka, which also have high poverty levels, rank much above India. The Government of India is duty bound to provide reliable, effective and easy to access care and assistance to the elderly.

Well-being of older persons has been mandated in the Constitution of India. Article 41, a Directive Principle of State Policy, provides that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right of public assistance in cases of old age. Social security has been made the concurrent responsibility of the Central and State Governments.

Maintenance of Parents is included in section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and also the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act, 2007, also known as “Senior Citizens Act” explicitly states that it should be the duty of the children to maintain their parents. The Act applies to all communities. The implementation of the Act, however, remains patchy.

The elderly in India face a range of challenges that include failing health, economic insecurity, isolation, lowered self-esteem, abuse, idleness and neglect. These specific set of problems require specialized response. There is a lack of infrastructure to provide the specialized attention to the growing numbers of elderly. Very few Government hospitals in India that have specialized geriatrics facilities. The off-take from Government schemes like the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) has also been poor.

The Mohini Giri Committee, set-up to review the implementation of the 1999 National Policy for the elderly, had suggested sweeping changes to the government policies and programmes to make benefits to elderly more widely and easily available. It advised special focus on elderly women and rural poor, and other disadvantaged seniors. It had also pointed out the lacunae in implementation of the existing schemes suggested remedial action. The recommendations became the backbone of the National Policy on Senior Citizens 2011.

The draft 12th Five Year plan had also identified some key action areas- including the setting up a National Commission for Senior Citizen; Establishment of Old Age Homes with integrated multi-facility centre in 640 districts and Health insurance for senior citizens. International experience shows a combination of welfare policies lead to healthy and quality life for the elderly. Even in the absence of a well-endowed economy, strong political will can do the job.

For example Bolivia, a country with resource constraints, ranks much higher than India in the global index for elderly care. The achievement can be linked to the government’s progressive policy for the elderly. In 2009, the Bolivian government rewrote the Constitution to include and guarantee the rights of elderly, who account for 10.4 percent of the country’s population.

While Government supported public social networks and safety nets are essential, we also need to look at how the elderly can continue contributing to the society longer. Government data shows that India’s old age dependency ratio is increasing. In order to reduce the pension bills to manageable levels, we must also look at enhancing the productivity span of the elderly.

The received wisdom is that a larger proportion of old people means slower growth and less savings. Some economists are, however, more optimistic, arguing that people will adapt and work longer. In some developed countries, the earlier views on retirement have undergone a change. Almost 20% of Americans aged over 65 are now in the labour force, compared with 13% in 2000. Nearly half of all Germans in their early 60s are employed today, compared with a quarter a decade ago.

New research on productivity of elder workers shows that while the older workers were as productive in similar tasks as their younger colleagues, they actually commanded a higher premium price in certain skill based jobs. The key factor is education and skill. Less-skilled workers often have manual jobs that get harder with age. Higher-skilled workers, on the other hand, tend to be paid more, which gives them an incentive to keep working. Training the elderly, providing quality health care and modifying the work environment helps in increasing the productivity term of the seniors.

An experiment by leading German carmaker, BMW at its plant in Dingolfing, as described in a 2010 Harvard Business Review article, threw up some interesting results. The company modified one of its production lines and staffed it by workers who were near or beyond retirement age. 70 small—mostly ergonomic—changes, such as adding barbershop chairs so workers can perform tasks sitting down and orthopedic shoes for comfort, were made to the “pensioner’s assembly lines” as it was called. The total investment in modifications was a paltry US $ 50,000. The changes led to an enhancement of productivity by 7%. The line thereafter has performed at par with other lines with younger workers.

History is full of examples, where the elderly have contributed fruitfully well into their twilight years. As the American poet Longfellow wrote -

‘Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles            
Wrote his grand Ĺ’dipus, and Simonides      
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,        
When each had numbered more than fourscore years,        
And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten,    
Had but begun his “Characters of Men.”            
Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales,        
At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales;
Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last,          
Completed Faust when eighty years were past.’

We need a transformation in how we visualize and treat the elderly in our society. Health care services should be based on the felt needs of the elderly, which would involve a comprehensive baseline morbidity survey and functional assessment in health areas that are perceived to be important to them. Education, training and information needs of older persons will also have to be met. The thrust should be to identify the more vulnerable among the older persons - the poor, the disabled, the infirm, the chronically sick and those without family support, and provide welfare services to them on a priority basis.

Voluntary organizations, such as HelpAge India, need to be encouraged and assisted to organize services such as day care, multi-service citizen’s centres, outreach services, supply of disability related aids and appliances, short term stay services and friendly home visits by social workers. This is the least we need to ensure so that elderly can go through their twilight years with dignity, without having to fear that they will end up no longer counting for anything.

I once again thank the organizers, HelpAge India for inviting me to this event and wish them all the very best in their future endeavors.


Jai Hind.”

Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=0 

1 comment:

BK Kansal said...

The thoughts are good if followed in letter and spirit.
Seriousness in implementing the policies is the need of hour.

Blogsite Disclaimer

The content of this Blog, including text, graphics, images, information are intended for General Informational purposes only. Silver Innings Blog is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within the site. While the information contained within the site is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided in this Web site is correct, complete, and up-to-date.The links provided on this Blog do not imply any official endorsement of, or responsibility for, the opinions, data, or products available at these locations. It is also the user’s responsibility to take precautionary steps to ensure that information accessed at or downloaded from this or linked sites is free of viruses, worms, or other potentially destructive software programs.All links from this Blog are provided for information and convenience only. We cannot accept responsibility for sites linked to, or the information found there. A link does not imply an endorsement of a site; likewise, not linking to a particular site does not imply lack of endorsement.We do not accept responsibility for any loss, damage or expense resulting from the use of this information.Opinions expressed by contributors through discussion on the various issues are not necessarily those of Silver Innings Blog.