On Sunday when most of us were feeling relaxed and enjoying our day off from work, the world was celebrating World Elders Day.
The day is celebrated every year on 1st of October by all the members of the United Nations and India being no exception. Presently, India alone has more than 11.3 crores elders out of which 5.7 crores are males and the rest are females.
However, what is proving to be a cause for concern is the number of elderly in developing nations is increasing. Therefore, the figure is likely to jump to 19.8 crores in the 2030 and to 32.6 crores by the year 2050. This figure is nearly three times the population of elders today.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is also witnessing this phenomenon. However, what we are witnessing that our society remains completely ignorant and misinformed about the development.
The society as a whole has felt no need of evolving a social justice policy with proactive participation from the members of civil society for greater engagement of senior citizens.
Even though the senior citizens are the knowledge repository of the nation and continue to be respected for the wisdom which they have garnered by experience, learning, insight and judgment, the younger generation fails to admit this harsh reality.
The present generation is struggling with cultural crisis wherein old structures are being dismantled while the new ones are yet to come up which has caused disorientation in roles played by different family members especially the elders.
Therefore, we need to capitalize on the strength of cultural ties and social fabrics of our state to provide a direction to turbulent relations in the families of modern times.
Since the number of elderly people is growing the state also needs a social justice policy to enable the system to extend various welfare measures to the aged population. The state also needs to fasten the process of transforming the current infrastructure for evolving ‘senior citizen friendly’ society.
This will ensure that the elders will witness a greater engagement, dignity and respect.
We have to act collectively on this issue and the civil society has to come up with various innovative plans for shaping a better policy and plans.
The elders day is probably one of the least glorified of all the days. It is nothing but our apathy. We forget that time is coming when the present youth shall become elders. We should also remember that if they were not here we would not be here. Only time shall prove that we become like them.
Every developed country takes care of the health of their elders. A policy needs to be laid down in this respect. Health insurance for the elders is an important aspect . It leaves an elder a free mind to live without any stress with regard to his health. There is no such policy with our state government.
Various Insurance companies do have health insurance policies but for a limited period of life. While on the one hand we are expecting longer life span and on the other hand the age limit is enforced on such policies, leaving our elderly vulnerable when they are in need. This needs to be looked into seriously. Merely giving some travelling concessions that too in Indian Railways, 0.5 % more interest on the fixed deposits, and may be a few more are not the ultimate solutions.