TODAY -

International Day Of Older Persons, 1 October, 2019

SK Singh *

  International Day for Old Age person observed on October 1, 2009 by Pioneer Health Club Manipur, Khurai
International Day for Old Age person on October 1, 2009 by Pioneer Health Club Manipur, Khurai



International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems associated with old age, the many disadvantages, rather the sufferings faced by these elderly. In addition, it intends to reinforce achievements in our effort to lessen the hardships faced by the older community.

It is also intended to celebrate the day by associating with them, spending time with the grandparents, visiting old age homes, with the objective of reminding them that there are also people standing by them in the autumn of their lives.

There have been loaded problems for the people and also the CSOs, the government over the years. The issue is about the increasing need, the responsibilities for taking care of the elderly as we go on.

With advancement of quality of life style in society in general, the better health care, improved sanitation, increasing level of education etc, the 'expectation of life at birth', has risen universally resulting to longer life span, declining birth rates as also death rates across the world. This has created a situation where 'proportion of old people to young' has increased.

Worldwide, between 2017 and 2030, the number of persons aged 60 and above is projected to grow by 46%. At this rate, Manipur will face the responsibility of looking after around 8% of our population; say roughly 2.50 lakh, taking our projected population by now at 35 lakh. This is expected considering that Old Dependency Ratio has risen to 142 in 2011 from 131 in 2001. Additionally, the population in the age group 20-59 currently taken as near half of the current population would swell the number of the aged next year.

This lands us to a scenario where old people outnumber youth as well as children of under age of 10. More alarmingly, this increase will be the greatest and most rapid in the developing world; and our India belongs to this group. Now therefore population ageing and their welfare is understandably poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.

UN fixes a THEME for each year to focus more on the selected area. This year 2019, the theme of the celebration is, "The Journey to Age Equality".

The theme aims to:-
i) Draw attention to the existence of old-age inequality from accumulation of disadvantages,
ii) Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing inequalities and preventing these,
iii) Explore societal and structural changes,
iv) Reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities.

It philosophizes on the recognition that human development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages. It emphasizes of empowering the older persons in all dimensions of development including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life is one way to ensure their inclusiveness, taking them along and thus attempt reduce inequalities. Let them enjoy the air of belongingness to and association with, the common man and thus enable them to feel important, however marginal, in the society.

In 2018, the theme was, "Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions". In 2017, it was even more self-explanatory; it said, "Stepping into Future, Tapping Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society". 2016 was even straighter, "Take a Stand Against Ageism".

Forget all these statistics, percentages, the themes changing every year. The reality, the scenario of the sufferings of these senior citizens remains near-same. Come first October, celebrations galore as 'International day of older persons' only to be shelved in cold storage next day when these groups would be left to themselves.

Their woes- ageing, geriatric illness, lack of support, financial bankruptcy, voiceless and solitary confinement leading to an agonizing life, would soon take over their days from the next day till they are shaken off next year on 1st October when they would be cheered, talked about lushly.

The most torturous picture is one where these elderly are abused at a time when their only need is some love, some care and some concern. A study in 20 select cities in the country in 2014 by 'Help Age India' paints a sorry state of affairs about some of the aged.

The survey noticed that roughly one out of every three elderly persons faced abuse in one way or the other. More disturbing was that the primary abuser happened to be the very sons and daughter-in-laws of the abused. What could be more shocking than this reality, at a time when they need some compassion, some support?

Governmental interventions in terms of legal penalties for such ill treatments, the several schemes for protection, provision of reservation of beds in hospitals, extended coverage under the Antodya Scheme with emphasis on provision of food at subsidized rate etc do not come to their respite.

Let us talk about the 'Reverse Mortgage Scheme', for instance, conceived by the national housing bank, authorizing the old possessing a property or a house, to avail of a monthly stream of income for his use, against the mortgage of the house.

The reality is how many such elderly would dare to go for mortgage even when his sons are around? The GOI scheme, "Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2017" introduced in the Parliament is hardly of any relief because of poor implementation.

What is then in store for this category of the aged; where do they go for their daily needs, the foods, the shelter, the care, the medicine at its minimum ? The answer is blank at least for the 30% of this group.

They have, however, one solution as yet; go to a 'Home for the Senior Citizens', where they, for sure, are not abused, get shelter, food, medical care and above all, COMPANY, a very essential component for the longevity of life of these groups of the elderly.


* SK Singh, wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmailD(OT)com
This article was webcasted on October 01, 2019.



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