House panel wants govt to care for aged people

UN says 60 plus people to go up 326% by 2050

At a time when the country is tapping into Young India to become an engine of growth, a parliamentary panel has advised the UPA government to shed its apathy and look after the well-ignored ageing population that the United Nation expects to grow by 326 per cent in 2050.

The standing committee on Social Justice and Empowerment’s draft report on senior citizens’ welfare, expected to be tabled in Parliament on Friday, says more alarming, as per the UN estimate, is the fact that people in their 60s and 80s will be up by 326 per cent and 700 per cent respectively. The total population, however, would grow by 55 per cent in this period.

The Registrar General of India, however, projected that by 2026 the country will have 17.32 crore senior citizens, including 8.46 crore males and 8.86 crore females, which would be 12.4 percent of the total population. As per the 2001 census, senior citizen population was 7.7 crore. An ageing person is officially treated as senior citizen when he or she turns 60.

With joint the family system disappearing, old people are left to fend for themselves in the absence of a backup support either from the government or community. More vulnerable are women, like the widows of Vrindavan and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

The draft report laments that the government’s specific schemes for the welfare of the greying population have not taken off for years despite an expert committee being formed to formulate guidelines for raising awareness on the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007. Besides, suggestions were given to set up a helpline at the national and district levels, National Commission for Senior Citizens and National Trust for the Aged.

The committee was disgusted over the fact that the apex body, National Council for Senior Citizens, headed by the social welfare minister, did not hold a single meeting since its inception two years ago. Similar state bodies have also not been constituted till now.

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