Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dr. Mala Kapur Shankardass * talk at Bharat Pensioners Samaj

Dr. Mala Kapur Shankardass * talk at
Bharat Pensioners Samaj      
( Federation of All India Pensioners' Association affiliated to IFA) 

 57th Annual Conference, 12th October, 2012, T N Bajpayee Memorial Hall, 12, Chelmsford Road, New Delhi, India.

* Dr. Mala Kapur Shankardass is a sociologist, gerontologist, health and development social scientist. She is into academics, research, activism, consultancy and writing. She works at both national and international levels. She holds the Asia Chair of International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), an international NGO in consultative status with United Nations and working in 68 countries across all the continents. She is also Founder and Managing Trustee of Development, Welfare & Research Foundation (DWRF), through which she advocates for older persons rights and works for and with senior citizens. She is on the Expert panel on ageing issues with different agencies of the United Nations and national bodies. She is also involved with gender, health and development concerns. She Chaired the Sub Committee on Gender for the Committee for the formulation of the revision of the National Policy for older persons. She can be contacted at and through postal address D – 104, Anand Niketan, New Delhi 110021, India.    

Namaste and Good afternoon, Respected Senior Citizens, Distinguished Guests, Members of the Bharat Pensioners Samaj, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am extremely happy to join all of you in your 57th annual conference. I am honored to be invited to this large all India gathering. It is such a pleasure to see so many of you assembled here today, coming from all parts of the country. It speaks volumes about your commitment to your organization. Congratulations on the success of Bharat Pensioners Samaj stabilizing itself year and after year. I have been following your successful path with great pride. I hope your issues and demands are resolved at the earliest and your dharna yesterday on 11th October at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi went off well. My request to you is to please submit your charter of demands to the Planning Commission, who are these days busy preparing the 12th Five Year Plan, so that many of your concerns are addressed by the government in the new development plans being framed.

Much is talked about retirement planning and all of you belonging to different regions of the country, through your organization are doing a great job to highlight different aspects of retirement and especially of pensions. I am impressed by your annual reports, and other regular publications, it all reflects of the sincerity and the dedication of each one of you and more so of the various office bearers to the cause.

I am grateful to Mr S. C. Maheshwari, for extending the invitation to me to be the Chief Guest at today’s function. He asked me to speak on elder abuse issues and related matters. Given the short time of 10 minutes, I will try to cover some aspects of it.

Elder abuse and neglect is a growing concern and of intergenerational interest. Both the young and the older generation have to work together to avoid it. Since a large majority of those present here today belong to the older generation, I will touch on the issue from their perspective and interest.

In a family set up, the beginnings of elder abuse and neglect start with dependency of older people on the younger family members. Whether it is financial dependency or physical or psychological or any other form, it is generally the cause or the basis on which abuse starts in a family situation. Most people try to financially plan for their retirement, but do not plan for ‘retirement living’, that is for living their life in the later years. Money matters and finances as part of retirement planning are an important aspect of old age, but later years are much more than finances, they need to be managed in many other ways. With increasing longevity ‘retirement living’ thus is an important aspect of everyone’s life which needs adequate attention and careful planning. Proper management of retired living, of later years also reduces the risk of elder abuse and neglect. Planning and management of these years is all about how you want your life to look like in old age.

Health is an important part of later years, but while remaining healthy must be a goal through the life course for all of us, retirement living is about going beyond health. Successful retirement living is about attitude to old age, all about productive ageing, it is finding purpose in life beyond 60 years and most importantly keeping all your resources with yourself and utilizing them appropriately as per need.

Based on my experience of working on old age issues and with older people, my advice to you is that during your life do not give away your resources – your property, your assets, your valuables to the younger generation. These should be passed on only after death. Why do most people give away their resources to their children during life is because many have the attitude that they do not need them in later years. But remember, old age is a celebration, every phase of it, each year of life must be enjoyed and lived. Each and everyone person has the right to live their life with autonomy and dignity. This is only possible if your resources are within your hand. If you have property, or pension, or wealth from assets, it is for your use, for you to enjoy your old age and benefit from it. Yes, you can willingly share it with your children, but only use part of it, do not ever give it away totally. Let the children live with you but let it not be the other way, that is you live off your children, do not become dependent on them.

Also, importantly, use your time for yourself. Find time to do activities that you enjoy, if it is grand children caring, doing work for your adult children – do it as an enjoyment, as a responsibility, but never as a burden. Resist it if forced on you. Do activities which give you a purpose in life and which suit your health and well being. Let your children realize that you have a life of your own. You are entitled to do what you wish to do, as much as the adult children like to do things as they desire. Be involved with activities of your choice and express your likes and dislikes, but do not be rigid, uncooperative and stubborn. Be amicable so that children can respect your individuality, your special contribution to their life and to your own well being.

Do keep your mind sharp. Be vigilant of any financial fraud or misdeed. Be careful with financial dealings as your children could be party to over looking your financial interests. Be aware of your bank dealings, of signing documents and important papers that concern you. It is necessary that your children should be impressed with your intellectual abilities. They should know that they can not fool you in any financial or other matter. Your mind should be alert to all that involves you in any way. It is said about the mind - ‘use it or lose it’. So you need to keep your intellectual stimulation always alive. Keep yourself busy and involved with whatever you enjoy doing. Take an interest in your life, in your activities. You should keep busy with voluntary work, you are lucky if you have paid work, be involved with hobbies, mind games, brain work, always have something to do, even relaxing and taking life easy should be stimulating. Don’t let life defeat you.

It is important to be connected with people. Research indicates that people who develop friendship and keep them in old age, live longer, healthier and happier. Also contact with the outside world, with your sincere friends safeguards you against abuse. Children feel threatened by close contacts of their ageing parents. If they know that you can talk against them and about their bad behavior with others, with relatives, siblings, friends, that they will be under scrutiny, they will resist being abusive. Don’t fear them, if they do anything wrong to you, stop them immediately, right in the beginning. Show them you will not tolerate any misbehavior or mistreatment. Do not accept defeat and become helpless. Your friends, siblings and other contacts can keep a watch on you and consequently a check on your children and others who may abuse or neglect you. Keep your spirits high.

Life changes that come with retirement living can be challenging, but your attitude plays a big part on how you will find your happiness. Discuss your problems with your well – wishers, solutions are always there. Take matters is your hands and do not be without hope. Your life is precious, do not let it stagnate and rot. Each year has to be lived. It is rightly said – Add life to your years. Be your engine driver and work towards living a life free of abuse and neglect.

I wish all of you success in your endeavors to live a full, happy, healthy and productive life with dignity and respect.

Thank you for your patient hearing and for this wonderful opportunity to be with all of you. Do stay in touch. I seek your blessings in my work and initiatives. Join me in my tag line Little Things Matter, be the change for your well being.       

Visit BPS Website:            

Post a Comment