Celebration of International Day Of Older Persons - The Aftermath

S. Kunjabihari Singh *

The 1st of October is celebrated the world over, as the Day of Older Persons since 1999. They also call this day—World Geriatric Day in recognition of the commitment to Healthy Ageing for elderly persons. Even a new coinage Happy Ageing has been formed with pledge for an initiative for senior citizens to make them feel Older, Wiser, and Happier.

These categories of our population are lavished with pleasing words on this day, with awards presented to some eminent senior citizens as well as institutions in recognition of their invaluable contribution towards this cause of the senior citizens who unfortunately, are not well placed in the society today. The theme of this year is “Security for Senior Citizens”.

Rightly, the security concerns in the arenas of economic and social securities like old age pension, insurance, health care, personal security with registration with area Police Station and such other enabling environment need to be accorded a fresh impetus.

This year, Oct 1, 2012, on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons,Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde,Hon”ble Union Minister of Home Affairs conferred the Vayoshreshtha Samman,2012 on eminent senior citizens and Institutions in recognition of their contribution towards the wellbeing of the elderly.Shri Mukul Wasnik, Hon”ble Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment presided over the function at Vigyan Bhavan, Maulana Azad Road, New Delhi, at 5.00 PM,Oct,1st.

Two broad categories—Institution and Individual, were identified and Three awards under Institution and another Five under Individual were presented in a glittering function at Vigyan Bhavan.The Institution Award for Knowledge was given to All India Senior Citizens Confideration,Mumba,(AISCCON),a conglomeration of CSO/NGOs,Institutions,Individuals working for the Aged from 20 states and 3 UTs.

Institution Award for service, was given to two institutions—
i ) Yanam Old Age Home, Pudducherry, and
ii) All) Manipur Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Imphal, Manipur.

Best Panchayat Award was given to Pulamanthol Gram Panchayat, Mallapuram,Kerala.

Institution Awards for Individuals were given to five very eminent individuals under five categories.
i) Centenarian Award was given to Dr. Shanti Giridhar Lal, Mumbai.
ii) Best Mother Award was given to Smt,Shefali Chaudhury, Kolkata(Posthumously)
iii) Life time Achievement Award was given to Shri MM Shabharwal, New Delhi,
iv) Creative Award was given to Shri Agni Kumar Acharjee, Agartala Tripura, and
v) Sportsman Award was given to two individuals - a) Smt. Prakashi Tomar, Bagpat UP,and Smt Chamdro Tomar, Bagpat UP.

To add glamour to the celebration, a morning Walkathon was flagged off by the Minister of Social Justice &Empowerment on the morning of 1st Oct, at 7 AM at India Gate lawns, Rajpath, New Delhi. The Walkathon is intended to promote Healthy Ageing and Inter-Generational Bonding wherein over 30,000 persons consisting of senior citizens from across Delhi,NGOs working in the field of elderly issues, corporate personalities and school children from different schools participated.

People irrespective of age, gender and background gathered at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to participate in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon with a solemn purpose –To run for the cause of the Aged. . A team of 19 from the Times of India Group, a team of 23 from Vardan, took the 21 km half-marathon flagged off at 6.30 AM with a Bang, althrough with electric cheering, dancing and singing even before the jamboree started.

The whole ambience was such that nobody seemed to be on the mind of finishing early as many simply strolled with air of pride while listening to music throughout the event. The presence of the Chief Minister of Delhi Ms. Sheila Dikshit among other celebrities was encouraging. The limelight was captured by the participation of a 96-year old Ms.Man Kaur who was nearly robbed by the thousands around. Her wrinkled face glowed with excitement when she came to the starting line.

The presence of actors-- Bipasha Basu, Rahul Bose, Gul Panag etc added to the glamour- quotient of the event. The Comment of Bipasha was equally stimulating, when she observed, “ I am very happy to be part of any event that talks of health and fitness,especially of the aged”. The most heart rendering scene of the event was stolen by a petite 13 year old girl --Jyoti Yadav a student of class VIII, and part of Bharati Foundation, who ran with a unique purpose, “Raising awareness on the plight of widows in her village in Alwar district”. Her mission was to get them accepted by the society by allowing them to remarry and create life.

The Award Conferment Function at Vigyan Bhavan,was interlaced with a welcome song by the chidren of National Bal Bhavan, with another rendition by the same group on the select theme of Integrational Bonding. In his address, Shri Mukul Wasnik, highlited the increasing awareness of both the people and the Government of the need for welfare measures to provide a platform where the elderly could pass their evening of life in peace with grace. He mentioned about the several welfare schemes taken up by the government for the aged.

Under the scheme of Integrated Programme for Older Persons(IDOP), Civil Society organizations(CSO) can seek financial assistance for running,inter-alia,Day Care Centres,Old Age Homes, Mobile Medicine Units, Physiotherapic Clinics etc,Among the initiatives for the benefit of the Senior Citizens, the following are of some relevance:--

i) National Policy on Older Persons, initiated since Jan. 1999,to provide financial and food security, health care,shelter,protection against abuse, exploitation etc to improve quality of life,

ii) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to enforce the children/relatives obligatory and justifiable through tribunals, provision for revocation of transfer of properties by senior citizens in case of negligence by relatives and penal provision for abandonment of senior citizens.

iii) Income tax exemption is allowed up to Rs.2.50 lakhs per annum for 60 years and above and upto 5.00 lakhs for 80 years and above.

iv) Air fare concession up to 50% for males aged 65 &above, and female passengers aged 63 and above in the national carrier—Air India.

v) Old Age pension @Rs200/month for BPL persons of 60 years and above and @ Rs 500/month for BPL persons of 80 years and above.

vi) 40% and 50% concession in rail fare to males of 60 years and above and females of 58 years and above respectively.

vii) Allowing entry into health insurance scheme till 65 years of age,transperancy in the premium charged and reasons to be recorded for denial of any proposals etc.on all health insurance products catering to the needs of senior citizens.

All these and other related programmes are desired to benefit the elders through nutritious diet, exercise and rest, meditation and relaxation, disciplined life style, active social life connecting regularly with friends and family, regular medical checkup, playing with children and pets, volunteering for community works.

Despite all these plethora of social and economic securities meant for them, the hard fact remains that quite many a senior persons are not able to avail of these, simply because of the inbuilt intricacies and are at the receiving end. They have to count their days in utter agonies unless appropriate intervention is provided as announced on the 1st Oct.

These elders who had given us so much to us, during their hay days, are this day, at the mercy of the society. The festive air of the celebration on the 1st of fast disappearing. The glaze and extravagance fading only to be a faint memory. At the end of the day, the elderlies would be back to square one only to be shaken awake next year on 1st Oct, 2013.Alas,it’’ll be a long and agonizing wait.

* S. Kunjabihari Singh wrote this article for
The article was originally written on 7th October 2012 and the writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(aT)rediffmail(doT)com
This article was posted on Janaury 22, 2016.

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