Advocacy group seeks measures for `old people`

With approximately over 17000 people entering into the `old` category everyday, policymakers should take into consideration the "needs and rights" of the elderly.

New Delhi: With approximately over 17000 people entering into the `old` category everyday, policymakers should take into consideration the "needs and rights" of the elderly, according to an NGO, which has suggested certain steps like introduction of a National Institute for Aged and special identity cards for them.

"People above 60 years classified as old and there is an estimated almost 103 million old people in the country, a group which constitutes the largest section of actual voters as well as leaders and decision makers in our country," according to Agewell Foundation.

The advocacy group for senior citizens has written to the Prime Minister recently appealing for focus on the "needs and rights" of older persons in all government schemes."

"In all government schemes, focus must also be put on the needs and rights of older persons, as number of older persons growing rapidly but they remain vulnerable throughout their life in old age," writes Himanshu Rath, founder, Agewell Foundation.

The letter urges for policy directives under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs wherein all private business houses must be directed to include old age issues into their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

As per the census report of 2011 there are around 98.47 million senior citizens in the country, comprising approximately 8.2 per cent of the total population.

According to a report by the United Nations Population Fund, the number of people above the age of 60 is set to go up from around 100 million to over 300 million by the year 2050.

While the report says two-thirds of India`s 100 million people over 60 suffered a chronic ailment in 2011, it predicts an expected increase to more than 200 million by the year 2050.

Agewell Foundation suggests the establishment of a National Institute for Aged on the lines of the All India Institute of Medical Science for treatment and research in age related ailments.

Among other suggestions in the letter include setting up of National Fund for the Aged (on the lines of National Fund for Rural Development) and the issue of special identity-cum-credit cards for the older Persons where credit could be linked to the amount deposited or pension dues.

Other measures are setting up of a National Commission for the Aged on the lines of NHRC to advice various ministries or departments on older persons friendly policies and protect the interests of the aged.

The letter urges the setting up of a Prime Minister`s
self-employment scheme for the aged, a National Institute for Promotion of Entrepreneurship amongst the Aged, a foundation for revitalization of traditions and oral knowledge and the enactment of older persons` Justice Act.

Two more suggestions are also included in the letter - a scheme for establishing aged women`s hostel on the lines of working women hostels in each district and arrangement for temporary shelters for the aged in each district.

The letter addresses the Prime Minister, "We believe there is nobody better than you as our country`s statesman, who has created a value in the midst of our growing elderly population and the rights that can be sought for valued living till the end".

The Agewell Foundation is the first NGO in the sector from South Asia, to be been granted Special Consultative Status by the Economic and Social Council of United Nations.

The advocay group has set up the first consortium of NGOs across SAARC countries to advocate for the needs and rights of 160 million older persons from the region, in the world arena.


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