Marking International Day of Older Persons with the theme “Get Active, Stay Active” HelpAge India launched the Global Age Watch Index report of HelpAge International, launched formally by Mrs. Justice (Retd.) Leila Seth in the presence of Mr. Keshav Desiraju, Union Health Secretary, Govt. of India, at the India Habitat Centre today revealing some disturbing facts.
India ranked a poor 73 out of the 91 countries sampled globally in the Global Age Watch Index report. Surprisingly neighboring Sri Lanka does fairly well with a ranking of 36.
But first, what is the Global Age Watch Index?
The Global Age Watch Index is calculated as the geometric Mean of 4 domains – Income security, Health Status, Employment and Education, and Enabling Environment.
India fares poorly in almost all four domains: Health Status ranking – 85, Employment and Education ranking – 73, Enabling Environment ranking – 72 and Income security ranking – 54.
Clearly it fares the worst under the health status domain.
“Health is a major concern area in India, with low levels of public spending. Between 1996-97 and 2005-06 the total government spending on health was stagnant at about 1 percent of GDP, and the public expenditure elasticity with respect to GDP was at 0.94, lower than the average for low-income countries. Despite efforts to increase public spending after 2005-06 including the adoption of National Rural Health Mission, the expenditure has increased only marginally to 1.2 percent of GDP in 2009-2010, which is why HelpAge focuses a large part of its funds primarily on healthcare for the elderly,” says Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive Officer HelpAge India.
Though ranked amongst the lowest overall, India fares a bit better than the neighboring countries of Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan which are ranked at positions: 77, 89 & 91 respectively.
It fares better on the Income security front in comparison to the other domains, though ofcourse much needs to be desired especially when one looks at even emerging economies such as Vietnam, Philippines & Bolivia to name a few.
The aim of the report is to state the hard facts facing the world today vis a vis providing a quality life for the aged. Many developing countries are facing a tough time to meet the required standards globally with a burgeoning ageing population. India has a population of an estimated 100 million which is said to shoot upto 324 million by 2050.
5 centenarians were felicitated by chief guest Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member Planning Commission, with the oldest being freedom fighter Laxmi Devi, all of 102 years.
“Many countries are facing large scale increases in their ageing populations. Policies which support these people to stay healthy, work if they want to, and play a pivotal role in their family and society, are needed alongside pension and care provision. Older people are part of the solution,” says Mark Gorman, Director of Strategy, HelpAge International (UK).
The Index serves as a challenge to Governments and community groups to raise their sights as to what is possible to improve the lives of elders.
HelpAge has been pushing for “Active Ageing,” one such solution it believes elders should adopt, to lead healthy lives. Re-enforcing this, a unique Mime act on Active Ageing was performed by group Jagran followed by an inter-generational play written & directed by theatre veteran Sarita Vohra.
The following Corporate donors to the elder cause were also felicitated by the chief guest for their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the year 2012-13 along with individuals who have done exemplary work, as given below:
- PL Roy CSR Award to ONGC
- Gold Plate Award to RECL
- Silver Plate Award to BHEL
- Bronze Plate Award to RITES Ltd.
- Samson Daniel Award to Jawahar Education Society, Neyveli (TN) for the school that made the highest contribution to the cause.
- Excellence Award to MD, Ryan International Group of Institutions
- Golden Award to Dr. Aparna Basu – for being an exceptional Indian citizen over the age of 80 years who has made a notable contribution to the welfare of society in advancing years.
Ms. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, Director UNIC, read out the message from UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, while Ms. Frederika Meijer, Representative UNFPA shared some insightful facts on ageing globally.
Mr. Keshav Desiraju, Union Health Secretary, Govt. of India, felicitated the people behind the HelpAge Uttarakhand relief initiative for their Exemplary Public Service, they included:- Mr. Suneel Kumar Muttoo, IAS, Chairman, Board of Revenue and Chief Investment Commissioner (Govt. of Uttarakhand) and Dr. B.V.R.C. Purushottam, IAS, District Magistrate, Dehradun and Relief Commissioner (Govt. of Uttarakhand). The Best Team Award went to HelpAge India’s Uttarakhand Relief Team who worked 24×7 in remote villages in the state providing relief to victims, braving the odds.
Keeping in mind the worrying global scenario for India, HelpAge believes the time to act is now by all actors whether family, community, private or the public sector.
HelpAge India:is a leading charitable organization working with and for older people in India for the past 35 years. It runs age care programmes throughout the country & advocates strongly for the cause of the elderly and fights for their rights. It also advises & facilitates the Government in formation of policy related to the elderly.
For Information contact: Umang – 8802349929/ Vaishnavi – 9810683083/ Sonali Sharma –9810676562.