According to the Census 2011, India has 10.8 million senior citizens (above 60 years of age). This number is expected to increase substantially in the coming years with a rise in the life expectancy to 65 years from 42 years in 1960. In fact, it is predicted that between the years 2000 and 2050, the population of India will grow by 55%.
Policy Response to Ageing
- National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP), 1999: It envisages State support to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter and other needs of older persons, equitable share in development, protection against abuse and exploitation, and availability of services to improve the quality of their lives. Several schemes launched within it are Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Health Insurance for Senior Citizens, Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017, Scheme for providing Aids and Assisted Living Devices to Senior Citizens below Poverty Line, Senior Citizens Welfare Fund, etc.
- Maintenance Act 2007: This act provides a legal framework for the maintenance of the elderly parents & grandparents. Recently, Amendments to Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens Act, 2007 were proposed comprise, removal of maximum ceiling of maintenance allowance; extension of right to appeal to the respondents also; extension of benefit of revocation of transfer of property to parents also; reckoning of time limit for disposal of applications by the Tribunal from the date of receipt of application etc.
- Integrated Programme for Older Persons: provides financial assistance (up to 90 percent) to PRIs/local bodies, NGOs, educational institutions, charitable hospitals/nursing homes etc. for implementing a variety of facilities such as old-age homes, day care centres, physiotherapy clinics, provision of disability aids, etc. for elderly.
- Health care for Older Persons: The health care programme for the elderly is being implemented by the MOHFW from 2011 under the National Rural Health Mission. The ministry launched National Programme of Health Care for Elderly (NPHCE) during 2010-11.
- Social Pensions: The National Social Assistance Programme was launched to provide social assistance to the poor and the destitute.
- The National Policy on Senior Citizen, 2011, also, focused on various aspects related to old age like Income security, healthcare, safety security, housing, productive aging, welfare, multigenerational bonding, etc. it also established a National Council for Senior Citizens, to suggest required policy changes for the elderly.
- India is also a signatory of South Asia Partnership on Ageing: The Kathmandu Declaration 2016 which focuses on the special needs of the elderly population in the region.
- It is crucial to enhance policy and programme relevance by adopting various practices like getting feedback from the field, encouraging policy and programme audit, and adoption of good policies and programmes by the state governments.
- Better outcomes can be achieved by creating a supportive environment like nourishing better bonding between generations, ensuring their safety & security and that the intended benefits are better availed.
- The schemes pertaining to senior citizens could be brought under the restructured Department of Disability Affairs and Senior Citizens. An integrated implementation and monitoring plan should be developed by the Department with inputs from various government and non-government stakeholders.
- The idea of day care (as opposed to residential centres) is more acceptable to a significant part of the elderly population. Setting up of day care/enrichment centres should therefore be prioritised under the Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP).