This article deals with ‘Old Age ’. This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
- Due to the demographic transition through which India is passing through, India will witness a population explosion of senior citizens. Elders (aged 60 years and above) constitute
- Presently = 8% of Indian population.
- 2041 = 16 % of Indian population
- Reason for increased %age of old age
- Longer life expectancy due to better health facilities
- Decline in fertility: This, coupled with a reduced birth rate have led to an increase in India’s population of senior citizens.
- Elderly persons in society face a number of problems due to lack of family support, social security, health etc.
Elders in Traditional Indian Families
- Caring for the aged has always been a part of the Indian tradition.
- In large joint families, senior members used to be head of the families enjoyed the centre stage and were loved and respected by all children and grandchildren.
- Hence, the institution of Joint Family ensured peaceful living in old age with all dignity and respect.
But with changing structure of family due to various factors, old age people have become vulnerable to various insecurities.
Challenges of the ageing population
Change in Family Structures
- Due to the changing family structure from Joint to Nuclear Family, the elderly have become more vulnerable.
Burden on economy
- The decline in the labour force.
- The decline in savings and consumption.
- The higher burden on the government for geriatric care.
- Most elderly are not covered by a pension system or any other social security net.
Weak Geriatric Care System
- Old Age homes are in bad shape.
- Geriatric Specialists in India are lesser than required.
No Psychological Support
- Elders suffer verbal abuse, emotional abuse, neglect & disrespect.
Feminisation of Ageing
- The sex ratio of the elderly is increasing (1,033 in 2011).
Ruralization of the Elderly
- According to Census-2011, 71% of the elderly live in rural India. It is difficult to provide quality geriatric care in villages
Empty Nest Syndrome
- Generally, next-generation had to migrate in search of a better future leaving old age persons alone.
- Digital illiteracy acts as a great hindrance in times when every service is getting digitalized.
Steps to uplift Old Age
- Article 41 (DPSP): It has provision regarding public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, disablement etc.
- Maintenance & Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act,2007:
- It has the provision of Legal obligation for children to provide maintenance to the senior citizens.
- It also obligates state governments to establish old age homes in every district.
- Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP): It is implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice.
- National Social Assistance Program (NSoAP): NSoAP has a component of Assistance to Old Age.
- Pension Schemes: There are two pension schemes
- Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme
- Atal Pension Yojana
- Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana: It provides physical aids and assisted-living devices for Senior citizens belonging to the BPL category.
- Reservation of seats and concessions in the road, rail and air transport.
- National Council for Senior Citizens has been set up to suggest policy changes for the elderly.
State Specific Schemes
- Delhi Police has a dedicated cell for old age.
- Various NGOs are also working for old age persons like HelpAge India.
- India is also a signatory of the Kathmandu Declaration of 2016, which focuses on the special needs of the elderly population in the region.
Analysis of Schemes
- Low level of awareness and utilization about these schemes.
- Gender differentials: Women face greater vulnerabilities and isolation in old age. However, government schemes often ignore this factor.
- Lack of Geriatric care human resources: More than 10 million caregivers need to address the needs of the elderly population and a massive training programme to create a competent human resource.