UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 10 March 2022

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What’s the article is about?

The article talks about the importance of old-age care and the need for a policy or formal approach for the elderly.

Syllabus: GS2, Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population.

Data:

  • As per the UN World population, Ageing report notes that by 2050 old age population will be nearly 20% of the population and about 8% now.
  • As per Hyderabad research papers, 30% of the surveyed population had vision impairment.

Need for old age people protection

  • The elderly carry an immense experience of their life, we need to channel those experiences for a better tomorrow.
  • They can provide a vital generational link for the upcoming generation,
  • Grandparents in joint families provide a crucial link for transferring values and morals to the younger generation. 
  • Their deep cultural impressions and social experiences provide the necessary buffer against intolerance, violence, and hate crimes.

Challenges they face?

  • Feminization of aging: The sex ratio of the elderly has been projected to increase from 1,033 in 2011 to 1,060 by 2026.
  • Senior citizens are increasingly being neglected by the younger generation due to various reasons like western education, globalization, nuclear family structure.
  • Isolation and mental depression: Migration of youth to urban areas, leaving the old in rural areas remain isolated.
  • Multiple disabilities: Health issues like blindness, locomotor disabilities and deafness are most prevalent.
  • Inadequate Welfare Schemes: Despite Ayushman Bharat and public health insurance schemes, a NITI Aayog report indicates that 400 million Indians do not have any financial cover for health expenses.
  • Healthcare: Lack of geriatric care in rural hospitals and lack of availability of doctors.
  • Old-age home culture: As India becomes increasingly urbanized and families break up into smaller units, homes for the elderly have sprung up.
  • Accountability of homes: These old-age homes are not monitored and due to lack of accountability the standard of homes varies.

Way forward:

  • A minimum universal monthly pension of Rs. 2,000 for the elderly is quite doable for a $2 trillion economy like India.
  • Housing for the aged, particularly the aged poor, must be a priority and be made a subset of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
  • Enhancing the geriatric care health infrastructure, especially in rural areas.
  • Special budget for the elderly population at both levels
  • Assisted living facilities for indigent elderly, particularly those with age-related issues like dementia, need policy focus.
  • The finance ministry can give more tax breaks, or at least remove tax on deposit interest for seniors.
  • Health institutions will also need to offer a comprehensive set of packages that are tailored for the elderly.
  • New policy: Homes for the elderly must be guided, again by policy, to make their facilities, buildings, and social environment elderly and disabled friendly

Proof of a truly developed country lies in the way it not only nurtures it's young but also cares for its elders, equally. As per the Indian constitution Article 41 in particular and 46 talks about the welfare of senior citizens and providing a good environment for them.



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