TODAY -

Caring For The Aged : International Day of Older Persons, 2012

Seram Neken *

Aged persons enjoying a local sports meet in the outskirts of Imphal
Aged persons enjoying a local sports meet in the outskirts of Imphal :: Pix - Hueiyen Lanpao



Aged people are always seen braving the sun in long queues in front of Imphal Banks for hours. This is gross injustice to the pension payees on the part of the pension payers.
And most politicians of the state resort to favouritism and discrimination in enlisting for old-age pensions in various assembly constituencies. The same opportunistic politicians even engage in scuffles in distributing the old-age pensions.
It is really embarrassing to manipulate the due rights of older peoples for reaping electoral benefits.


Radhamani, an octogenarian woman somewhere in Imphal was fighting against her age and reluctant to die, as there was none to feed her three parentless siblings already affected by HIV.

Her sad story so impressed me that I scripted a radio feature on it entitled 'Eikhoina Soidana Ngamlani' which earned the Akashvani Awards 2007. How much responsibility is shared by the elders for their wards in Manipur society is clearly witnessed in the markets, where very aged women are seen selling vegetables to feed their families.

The agreement between the past and the present brings forth a bright future. When the present generation neglects the old, the next generation will completely discard us all. We must study and follow the past. The ideal of remembering Jananeta Hijam Irabat, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Radhakrishnan and a host of other leaders of the past lies in nurturing a good future. Thus observances and memorials have become big events to the conscious people of the present generation.

Everyone is going to be aged some day. When one has the energy and resource, one needs to pave a smooth path for the future by way of respecting and serving one's elders. If someone neglects his elders, he will be neglected by his youngsters when he becomes weak and old. This is the theory of karma. Elder persons are a treasure for the present generation. Here lies the importance of observing International Day of Older Persons on October first every year.

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated first October as the International Day of Older Persons. This was preceded by the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later by the UN General Assembly. In 1991, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons. In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The theme of the 2012 commemoration is "Longevity: Shaping the Future". The theme focuses on healthy behaviours of the aged people for productive lives and being resources for their families and communities. Today, there are around 600 million persons aged 60 years and over in the world. The figure will double by 2025 and will reach virtually two billion by 2050 with the vast majority in the developing world.

Ageing is an inevitable natural process in human life cycle. Elders encounter a host of challenges in their lives with changes in their body, mind, thought process and the living patterns. Ageing refers to a decline in the functional capacity of the organs of the human body mostly due to physiological transformation. However, it never implies that everything has been finished.

The senior citizens constitute a precious reservoir of human resource with knowledge of various sorts, varied experiences and deep insights. May be they have formally retired, yet an overwhelming majority of them are physically fit and mentally alert. Hence, given an appropriate opportunity, they are in a position to make significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their nation.

The government of India is implementing various schemes for the aged by way of paying pensions, running aged homes and other schemes for ensuring security of the elders. The state government is providing financial assistance to the old aged & infirmed persons / destitute under Manipur Old Age Pension Rules continuously.

A sum of Rs. 100/- per month has been given to these old and aged persons as pension. It is preferably given to low income group and handicaps (both male and female). As per data available, a total of 4173 aged people including 2504 women are being benefited by Manipur Old age pension scheme. The state government is providing grants to various old-age homes of the state - three in Churachandpur, two in Bishnupur, eight in Thoubal, one in chandel, five in Imphal West and three in Imphal East.

Under the centrally sponsored National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) implemented by DRDA through District Social welfare officers, an amount of Rs. 75/- per month is given to the destitute old age persons (male or female) of the age of 65 years or above in the form of old age Pension. The selection of the beneficiaries is done by Deputy Commissioners of the district concerned. The total number of beneficiaries who are benefited under this scheme is 35,061 in Manipur. (Source: Official website of SW dept., Manipur)

In spite of government provisions, the elderly are always neglected at the family and societal levels. Sometimes, political opportunism and bureaucratic tangles seem to hamper the smooth implementation of social security schemes for the aged. The government and non-government agencies need to create an enabling environment for the elders to avail of their due benefits. More and more recreation centres and parks need to be developed for the aged people, so that they can actively entertain themselves. The local organizations need to organize annual sports and amusing events for the elders.

Meanwhile, the elders also need to take care of their lives by way of doing regular exercises, taking good food, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and participating in social, recreational and entertaining activities. Regular health check-ups and cleanliness is a must for the elders.

Even though the young people have great responsibility to take care of their elders, there are lots of other initiatives which the elders themselves may take up. Following a positive lifestyle, developing a helping attitude and being a social minded person have a lot to do in their well being.


* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) as part of 'The voiceless speaks' column
This article was posted on October 02, 2012.



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