India plans new policy for senior citizens

India will soon have a new policy for senior citizens and some more schemes to meet challenges posed by changing socio-economic scenario of the country. Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja made this announcement on Tuesday while inaugurating the National Conference on Ageing. 

“More than 12 years have elapsed since the announcement of the National Policy on Older Persons, 1999. Keeping in view the changing demographics, socio-economic pattern and technological advances, the government is considering a revision of this policy,” the union minister said.

“A draft of the new policy has been prepared and is under discussion with the stakeholders to ensure the widest possible consultation,” Selja said.

The new policy will not only include social and legal devices to deal with challenges of the growing population of elders, which is being projected to reach 12.4 per cent by 2026, but also to address the problem of poor implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

The Act makes mandatory maintenance of parents and senior citizens by their children and relatives. It empowers the senior citizens to revoke any transfer of property, which they may have made in favour of a relative, in case of negligence by such relatives. It contains penal provisions for the abandonment of senior citizens. Participants pointed out inadequate awareness to be the reason behind poor implementation of the Act. The Union Minister also said that “the level of implementation of the Act by the States and the Union Territories does not seem to be either uniform or satisfactory.”

Besides strict implementation of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, the conference is deliberating upon new schemes for senior citizens in addition to the existing ones aimed at providing a secured and caring environment for senior citizens.

The two-day conference which will conclude on Wednesday is being attended by a wide range of people, including social welfare ministers of the states, higher officials from various central ministries, NGOs, Human Rights Commissions and Planning Boards of various State Governments and Union Territories.

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