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Chapter # 33. Senior Citizens, Persons with Disability and Transgender Persons

SENIOR CITIZENS 

Objective

  • To ensure a life of dignity, social security and safety for senior citizens, enabling them to actively participate in economic development and the nation building process.

Current Situation 

As per Census 2011,1 India had 10.38 crore senior citizens (60 years and above). Of this, 3.8 crore were above the age of 80 years. The share of the elderly in the population increased from 5.6 per cent in 1961 to 8.6 per cent in 2011. It is expected to increase to 20 per cent of the population by 2050.

Senior citizens face several challenges. They are prone to chronic illness. However, access to institutional support and specialized medical care is skewed, with most of these concentrated in urban areas and out of reach for the large number of the elderly who live in rural areas.

The government has taken steps to provide various tax benefits to senior citizens including raising the basic exemption limit from INR 2.5 lakh to INR. 3 lakh, increasing the deduction for health insurance from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 as well as raising the deduction for bank interest from INR 10,000 to INR 50,000. The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana has also been launched to provide a maximum pension of INR 10,000 per month with an investment of INR 15 lakh.

Constraints 

  • Poverty and lack of income security makes it difficult to meet even basic needs like food, housing, healthcare, etc., for a large number of senior citizens.
  • There has been a rapid emergence of nuclear families and ageing parents living away from their children.
  • There is a shortage of well-trained personnel for delivering care giving and other services for senior citizens.

Way Forward 

  • Given the changing demographics and socio-economic needs, revise the National Policy for Older Persons. The policy should cover housing, income security, pension, and access to healthcare. It should also emphasize the concept of ‘ageing in place’ or ‘ageing in own home’.
  • Bring schemes pertaining to senior citizens under the restructured Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens. An integrated implementation and monitoring plan should be developed in consultation with stakeholders and the plan should be reviewed periodically by an inter-ministerial committee headed by the Secretary.
  • Bring the necessary amendments to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Older Persons Act, 2007, currently under consideration by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE).
  • Consider establishing an old age home in every district by 2020 and ensure adherence to minimum quality standards.
  • Expand the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly to all districts following a comprehensive evaluation of the scheme.2
  • Prioritize supply of aids and assistive devices for senior citizens below the poverty line.
  • Ensure a barrier-free environment in all public buildings, parks, etc., for the elderly.
  • Strengthen the National Institute of Social Defence and Regional Resource Training Centres to meet the rising demand for quality caregivers.

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES 

Objective

  • To create opportunities for and empower persons with disabilities (PwDs) to realize their potential and live a productive and dignified life.

Current Situation

According to Census 2011, India had 2.68 crore PwDs constituting approximately 2.21 per cent of the total population. India enacted the first legislation for PwDs in 1995, which has been replaced by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The Act is harmonized with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, and lists 21 categories of disabilities. India also formulated its first National Policy for PwDs in 2006.

PwDs face several challenges.3 According to the Census 2011, 27 per cent of disabled children between the ages of 5-19 had never attended an educational institution. Only 50 per cent of the disabled population in the 15-59 years category was working.

They also tend to be stigmatized and discriminated against and lag behind others with respect to access to basic infrastructure and opportunities for economic participation.

The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwDs) has the overall responsibility for implementing several schemes; however, utilization of funds has been a challenge.

Constraints

  • Accurate identification of the disabled population in India has been a major problem. People tend to hide their disability to avoid facing social stigma.
  • Beyond Census statistics, there is a lack of appropriately disaggregated data for PwDs generated at regular intervals.4 In India, the last survey on disability was carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2002.
  • Disability related issues require multi-sectoral action, which has been difficult to achieve in practice.
  • The National Institutes (NIs), Composite Regional Centres (CRCs), District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) and the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) need special attention to ensure adequacy of resources and infrastructure as well as effective monitoring of schemes.

Way Forward 

  1. Generate data on PwDs 
  • Disaggregate data by sex, age and socio-economic status in order to identify reliable and regular trends for informed policymaking.
  • Feed data collected into an electronic database for PwDs at the national level and link with the Unique Disability Identity Card.
  1. Bolster the institutional architecture and policy framework 
  • Reorient the DEPwD to focus on data collection, identifying gaps and evaluating the impact of various schemes, instead of focusing on the implementation of a large number of schemes with small budget allocations.
  • Bring programmes focused on improving specific issues related to PwDs under the purview of the relevant line ministries.
  • Earmark at least 5 per cent of the total budget of social sector ministries for schemes for PwDs.
  1. Education
  • Include courses in disability etiquette and success stories on PwDs in the mainstream curriculum to change attitudes towards PwDs.
  • Provide special education training in teacher training courses.
  • Enhance scholarships/fellowships to students with disabilities.
  • Make schools more inclusive by addressing the barriers related to the physical environment (e.g. accessible toilets), admission procedures as well as curriculum design.
  • Ensure that schools have at least one section of every class accessible under the Universal Design Guidelines.
  • Foster partnerships between the Ministry of Human Resource Development and MoSJE to promote synergies among inclusive and special schools in the government and private sectors.
  • Develop indicators for rating schools on inclusivity.
  • Include disabled friendly sports, cultural and technical programmes in schools and colleges.
  1. Healthcare
  • Provide aids and assistive devices to at least 3 lakh beneficiaries every year.
  • Conduct cochlear implant and corrective surgeries for 5000 children annually.
  • Establish 20 state spinal injury centres.
  • Set up early diagnostic and intervention centres at the district level to screen children and identify special needs or requirements for assistive devices at an early age.
  1. Employment and income generation
  • Integrate the skill development scheme with schemes of the National Trust (e.g., Disha), to address the needs of the intellectually disabled.
  • Establish dedicated training centres for PwDs to meet the requirements of the private sector.
  • Integrate initiatives of various ministries to provide skill training, soft loans and entrepreneurship  pportunities to PwDs.
  1. Institutional strengthening 
  • Upgrade NIs into centres of excellence.
  • Establish 50 CRCs in states having a population of more than 6 crore.
  • Provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to 50 lakh PwDs through the NIs and CRCs.
  • Enrol 17,000 rehabilitation personnel in various long-term courses offered by NIs and CRCs every year.
  1. Accessibility and inclusivity
  • Make the Accessible India Campaign a mass movement with the involvement of citizens and civil society.
  • Conduct awareness programmes in collab-orations with DDRCs, CRCs and Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRCs).
  • Incorporate universal design and accessibility standards in engineering, architecture and computer science studies.
  • Introduce the requirement of an accessibility certificate for all future commercial enterprises above a specified size in order to be awarded a completion certificate.
  • Extend the DDRC schemes to all districts.
  • Construct residential homes for disabled adults whose parents are no longer alive.
  • Adopt a life-cycle approach for community-based rehabilitation in mission mode.

TRANSGENDER PERSONS

Objective

  • To ensure a life of dignity, social security and safety for transgender persons, enabling them to actively participate in economic development and the nation building process.

Current Situation

As per Census 2011, India had 4.87 lakh transgender persons. The transgender community is among one of the most marginalized communities in the country. Extreme social exclusion diminishes their self-esteem and is a violation of their human rights. An Expert Committee constituted under the direction of the Honourable Supreme Court recommended several measures to ameliorate their problems. Following that, the “Scheme for Transgender Persons” was launched.

Constraints

  • Parliament is yet to pass the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016.
  • Accurate identification of transgender persons is a major challenge.
  • The implementation of the “Scheme for Transgender Persons” is suboptimal.

Way Forward

  • Provide for identification of transgender persons in all government and non-government records by introducing a separate column to include the third gender.
  • Sensitize communities towards the challenges and needs of transgender persons.
  • Create a forum for the active participation of transgender persons at all levels of governance.
  • Put in place institutional mechanisms to effectively implement programmes for transgender persons.
  • Determine the number of transgender persons and map their socio-economic status to design customized policy interventions. This enumeration and mapping can be carried out by the MoSJE along with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • Mandate the provision of housing and community services to accommodate at least 50 per cent of transgender persons.
  • Formulate and implement a scheme for establishing residential schools in all districts for transgender persons.
  • Design a scheme for providing skill and employability training to transgender persons to integrate them with mainstream society.
  • Launch a centrally sponsored scheme to provide pension to transgender persons above 60 years.
  • Ensure Aadhaar and Direct Benefit Transfer based implementation and monitoring of social security programmes.
  • Consider creating a fund at the national level for supporting states that have mapped out the needs of and designed the necessary policy interventions for various vulnerable sections of society including persons with disabilities, senior citizens and transgender persons in line with the relevant legislations.

NITI AYOG - New India @ 75

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