Elder Section Of The Society

Topics Covered

  • What Is Ageing
  • Population Figures On Ageing
  • Concerns
  • Problems Faced By Old Age Population In India
  • How Elderly Can Be Utilized
  • Constitutional Provisions
  • Recent Initiatives By Government
  • Vietnam’s Example
  • Conclusion

What Is Ageing?

  • Ageing is a continuous, irreversible, universal process, which starts from conception till the death of an individual.
  • However, the age at which one’s productive contribution declines and one tends to be economically dependent can probably be treated as the onset of the aged stage of life.
  • National Elderly Policy defines person of 60+ age group as elderly.

Population Figures On Ageing

  • Age division of Indian population (0-14) is 30.8%, (15-59) is 60.3%, (60+) is 8.6%.
  • According to Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons in India.
  • It has increased from 5.5% in 1951 to 8.6% in 2011.
  • Projected a rise upto 19% in 2050.
  • As regards rural and urban areas, more than 73 million persons i.e. 71% of elderly population resides in rural areas while 31 million or 29% of elderly population are in urban area.

Concerns

  • Need to ensure healthy, meaningful & dignified life.
  • Government must ensure policies that enable older people to continue participating in society.
  • The stereotype of older people as frail and dependent is not correct. Many contributions are often overlooked while their needs and demands are overemphasized.
  • There are several welfare schemes for the elderly but successive governments’ lack of concern and lethargy towards this section of the population had rendered these schemes non-operational and defunct over the years.
  • Besides, no money is allocated by big companies under the corporate social responsibility head

Problems Faced By Old Age Population In India

  • Disabilities in old age
    • With the increasing age and decreasing health, the older person begins to depend unknowingly physically and psychologically on either the kinship group or the existing social support network.
    • Most common disability among the aged persons was locomotor disability and visual disability as per Census 2011.
  • Economic Problems
    • Economic dependence is one of the major factors that very often affects the wellbeing of older persons. Economic dependence is manifested in two ways.
    • First, the status of economic dependence may be caused by retirement for a person employed in the formal sector.
    • Secondly, for a person in the rural or urban informal sectors, it may result from their declining ability to work because of decreased physical and mental abilities. Sometimes older persons are also faced with economic dependence when management responsibilities for matters relating to finances, property or business are shifted to children, pushing the older person into a new status of economic dependence.
  • Psychological Problems
    • The common psychological problems that most of the older persons experience are: feeling of powerlessness, feeling of inferiority, depression, uselessness, isolation and reduced competence. These problems along with social disabilities like widowhood, societal prejudice and segregation aggravate the frustration of elderly people. Studies report that conditions of poverty, childlessness, disability, in-law conflicts and changing values were some of the major causes for elder abuse.
  • Health Problems 
    • Health problems are supposed to be the major concern of a society as older people are more prone to suffer from ill health than younger age groups. It is often claimed that ageing is accompanied by multiple illness and physical ailments. Besides physical illness, the aged are more likely to be victims of poor mental health, which arises from senility, neurosis and extent of life satisfaction. In most of the primary surveys, the Indian elderly in general and the rural aged in particular are assumed to have some health problems like cough, poor eyesight, anemia and dental problems.

How Elderly Can Be Utilized

  • Elderly can act as jury in courts, help youth overcome problems of drugs, violence; share their life experience like PM asking all retirees to save their work experience for newcomers;
  • Can act as moral guides for community causes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, counsellors etc. and thus monetise and channelize their social capital.
  • Can act as ambassadors of their community in traditions, various decentralised decision making process and social audits. Old People’s Associations OPAs in Vietnam are great example of cooperative way of functioning.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Provisions have been made in the Constitution of India to preserve the rights of those aged above 60. Since these articles are part of Chapter IV of the constitution which corresponds to Directive Principles, they cannot be enforced by a court of law as stated in Article 37, however, they are the basis upon which any legislation is drafted.
  • Article 41 of the Constitution secures the right of senior citizens to employment, education and public assistance. It also ensures that the state must uphold these rights in cases of disability, old age or sickness. Meanwhile, Article 46 asserts that the educational and economic rights of the elderly must be protected by the state. Article 47 Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health these above articles which are applicable to old age people ensures their wellbeing. Apart from this old age people are also protected under National policy for old persons 2011.

Recent Initiatives By Government

  • Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP)
    • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is a nodal agency for the welfare of elderly people. The main objective of the scheme is to improve the quality of life of older persons by providing basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care and entertainment opportunities, etc.
  • Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY)
    • This scheme is run by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. This is a central sector scheme funded from the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund. The fund was notified in the year 2016. All unclaimed amounts from small savings accounts, PPF and EPF are to be transferred to this fund.
    • Under the RVY scheme, aids and assistive living devices are provided to senior citizens belonging to BPL category who suffer from age-related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disabilities. The aids and assistive devices, viz walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers/crutches, tripods/quad pods, hearing aids, wheelchairs, artificial dentures and spectacles are provided to eligible beneficiaries.
    • The scheme is being implemented by Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), which is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
    • The Ministry of Rural Development runs the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) that extends social assistance for poor households for the aged, widows, disabled, and in cases of death where the breadwinner has passed away.
    • Under this scheme, financial assistance is provided to person of 60 years and above and belonging to family living below poverty line as per the criteria prescribed by Government of India. Central assistance of Rs 200 per month is provided to person in the age group of 60-79 years and Rs 500 per month to persons of 80 years and above.
  • Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY)
    • This scheme is run by the Ministry of Finance. The Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) was first launched in 2003 and then relaunched in 2014. Both are social security schemes for senior citizens intended to give an assured minimum pension on a guaranteed minimum return on the subscription amount.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana
    • The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PNVVY) was launched in May 2017 to provide social security during old age. This is a simplified version of the VPBY and will be implemented by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India.
    • Under the scheme, on payment of an initial lump sum amount ranging from Rs 1,50,000 for a minimum pension of Rs 1000 per month to a maximum of Rs 7,50,000/- for a maximum pension of Rs 5,000 per month, subscribers will get an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum payable monthly/quarterly/half-yearly/annually.
    • The Centre will bear 75 percent of the total budget and the state government will contribute 25 percent of the budget, for activities up to district level.
  • Vayoshreshtha Samman
    • Conferred as a National award, and given to eminent senior citizens & institutions under various categories for their contributions on International day of older persons on 1st october.

Vietnam’s example

  • In Vietnam, Old People’s Associations (OPAs) are improving the lives of the elderly in many parts of the country.
  • In a country of 90 million people, as many as 8.5 million are members of OPAs in their village and town communities.
  • The associations are democratically run by the elderly in the communities.
  • They set their own agendas, choose what community causes to apply themselves to, which elderly persons need special assistance and assign responsibilities among themselves.
  • They represent the needs of the community and the elderly to government agencies, who also see them as a vital support for the government’s outreach programmes into communities.

Conclusion

  • The elderly are the fastest-growing, underutilized resource that humanity has to address many other problems.
  • Re-integration of the elderly into communities may save humanity from mindlessly changing into a technology-driven ‘Industry 4.0’ which futurists are projecting: an economy of robots producing things for each other.
  • Investing a little to engage the elderly in communities can improve the health and well-being of the elderly. It can also improve the health and well-being of communities.