(A writeup for National Conference on Ageing at N.Delhi on 06&07/11/2012)
In 21st century population of older persons is increasing faster than any other age group. In India during last decade population growth rate has gone down by 3.09% population of 0-6 age group has gone down by 3.08% due to sharp decline of 19% infertility, but the population of Sr. Citizens has gone up by 2.8% because of rise in average life expectancy (69.89yrs).With the present trend we may surpass the 17% estimated Sr citizen population figure in 2050 . This may well touch 20%
90% of Indian elderly are suffering from one or the other ailment/disability.If India is not to be a Nation of cripple. The Society & the Govt. will have to take care of them.
For happier or say healthier ageing Govt. support, Laws & Acts though are a necessity, are the second part of the story. The first part rests with older persons themselves, Employers, NGOs, Associations & the Labour organizations.
Every person right from from the age of 45years need to prepared for the old age. Government alone can not do it .NGOs, Associations, Employers & labor organizations can be a powerful tool & should voluntarily come forward to train would be oldies, to save for the rainy days, to improve life style & eating habits to keep fit.
Financial security Health care & abuse are the three major concerns of elderly.
Finance & health have to go side by side. In today’s scenario for continued financial security health care is very important. Health is wealth is more true in case of Sr citizens, as one hospitalization may push the entire family below poverty line .
Health care : Adequate quality & Patient friendly Heath care within easy reach. May be divided under two major categories
(i) Preventive care, which in fact is self care which need training & education –Healthy eating habits, Exercise, yoga, acupressure, sanitation, knowledge about diseases, symptoms & regular checkups. NGOs, Associations, Employers, labour organizations be encouraged to take up this task by introducing distt., State & National level award by the govt. .
Monetary assistance to these organizations by the govt. should be restricted to providing basic infrastructure & transport.
(II) Curative or Managed care i.e. OPDs & Hospitalization for which Sr citizen population can be split in two categories
(i) Over 17% superannuated persons in organized sector are covered by Govt. Health schemes like CGHS, RELHS & ECHS etc. For this category, to extend coverage area, all these schemes be pooled together. OPD care be outsourced, those who opt out may be provided Fixed medical allowance of Rs 1200 linked to inflation or equal to the amount M/O H & FW spends on per card holder per month in CGHS dispensaries(whichever is more).
Hospital care: more number of Hospitals & Diagnostic centers be brought on govt. panel so that beneficiaries do not have to travel more than 15 KMs. For those who still remain uncovered & for the persons in unorganized sector adequate affordable Health insurance cover including pre existing diseases at subsidized rate of premium be provided .For poor elderly i.e those below poverty line or just above poverty line Govt should bear the burden of adequate insurance cover.
Financial security :
1.In unorganized sector universal Pension at the rate 50% of minimum wage of Central Govt . based on15th ILC Norms plus Dearness relief @ applicable to govt. employees, to all Sr citizens having income below this range be granted.
2. In organized sector:
(i) To ensure that value of Sr citizen’s money in Banks & P.O. does not go on reducing year after year , rate of interest should be at least two percent higher than the normal rate of interest & should be subject to upward revision in relation to the rise in the CPI
(ii). For Sr Citizens exemption limit under Income Tax be raised to Rs 500000/-
(iii) In organized sector minimum pension equal to 50% of minimum basic Central .Govt. salary plus Dearness relief thereon to all superannuated persons irrespective of any distinction of departments or Center, State Govt. or Local bodies etc be ensued
(iv) Parity in pension i.e persons retired from same rank, same scale of pay, same seniority & same length of service should get same Pension.
3.Elder abuse :-
(1) Abuse by Govt. & semi Govt. agencies can be easily handled by strict enforcement of Citizens’ Charter & strong Grievance redressal mechanism with strict time line, punitive clause & monitoring at different levels.
(2) Abuse in the family : Here again laws & Acts alone can not help. A lot is to be done by the elderly themselves. They may be able to lead happier life if they :
(i) Remember : You have lived your life the way you wanted. Now let others live as they want.
(ii) Do not interfere or render advise unless asked for.
(iii) Never loose control over your assets during your lifetime. Do not yield to emotions.
(iv) Remember ‘Anekant’ i.e. there can be several ways to do a work. Each one has his/her own way to do it .Do not try to impose your way of working on others.
(v) As far as may be, do not loose your usefulness in the family, volunteer yourself for the jobs you can easily do.
(vi) You own a treasure of wisdom, knowledge & experience .You have no right to keep it to yourself. Share with the society as much as you can
(vii) Be an asset instead of being a liability. Be part of the solution to the problem instead of always being a Problem.
BHARAT PENSIONERS SAMAJ