With Budget 2015-16 just round the corner, HelpAge India, an NGO working for the cause of disadvantaged elderly, released a report today on ‘State of India’s Elderly – 2014’ at the India International Centre. It was released by chief guest Mrs. Justice (Retd.) Leila Seth. The report aims to highlight the plight of this much marginalized and neglected segment of society by policy makers and decision makers.
“India has 100 million elderly, by 2050 this figure likely to triple to 324 million. Despite this fast pace of ageing not much attention has been given to the needs and care of India’s elderly. People are living longer, the Oldest Old, those 80 plus, are estimated to reach 48 million by 2050. There aren’t any dependable community support systems, no government welfare schemes except for the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, geriatric care is virtually absent.
We have been fighting to regulate the pension system nationally with the introduction of Universal Pension, but it is a long road ahead vis a vis implementation. Through this report HelpAge hopes to bring to the forefront the graveness of the situation and motivate influencers to take steps now,” says Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge India.
The Report is a compilation of articles and factoids and serves to highlight the dichotomy between an apparently happy picture of increased longevity and the reality of long years of hopelessness, bereft of family, society or state support that face our Elderly today.
“There is no proper social security for India’s elderly, most of India’s destitute elders have to still work in order to survive. Budgets bring only slim relief to senior tax payers and that’s where the thinking stops. The Oldest Old (80 plus) are the worst sufferers, as no health insurance schemes are willing to cover this age group. Physical and economic vulnerability is the most at this age and dependency levels are high. Pension systems are erratic and have yet to be uniform across the nation. In such a bleak scenario, where and who does the senior citizens turn to for help and assistance. We are hoping that this report serves as an eye-opener” says Manjira Khurana, HelpAge India, Country Head – Advocacy & Communications, HelpAge India.
Today, India is home to one out of every 10 senior citizens of the world. The nationwide dependency ratio of elderly to the general population is 13.1%.
HelpAge is continuously working on issues of elderly often looked upon with as taboo. Elder Abuse is one such focus area. Each year HelpAge highlights the growing temerity of the culprits of this heinous crime against elders. The abuser in most cases is the trusted carer, one’s own child.
The issue of poverty, both relative and chronic, poses additional challenges when it comes to older persons, particularly those in rural and far-flung areas with inadequate access to health care facilities. Then there are those who are triply disadvantaged—women, the disabled, dalits, and tribals in this category, with even more limited access to social security, health care and emotional security.
There are numerous problems that needs to be addressed urgently, particularly those that affect the underprivileged sections the most. Some need immediate intervention by state and central governments. Others, such as ‘Elder Abuse’ highlight a national shame that requires both introspection and action from society at large.
About HelpAge India
HelpAge India is a leading charitable organization working with and for older people in India for the past 36 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.
Contact: Sonali Sharma – 9810676562/ Anandita – 8860883569