वृध्द व्यक्ति पर राष्ट्रीय नीति
- Demographic ageing, a global phenomenon has hit Indian shores as well. People are
living longer. Expectation of life at birth for males has shown a steady rise from
42 years in 1951-60 to 58 years in 1986-90, it is projected to be 67 years in 2011-16,
an increase of about 9 years in a twenty five year period (1986-90 to 2011-16).
In the case of females, the increase in expectation of life has been higher -about
11 years during the same period, from 58 years in 1986-90 to 69 year in 2011-16.
At age 60 too, the expectation of life shows a steady rise and is a little higher
for women. In 1989-93, it was 15 years for males and 16 years for females.
- Improved life expectancy has contributed to an increase in the number of persons
60+ from only 12 million persons 60+ in India in 1901, the number crossed 20 million
in 1951 and 57 million in 1991. Population projections for 1996-2016 made by the
Technical Group on Population Projections (1996) indicate that the 100 million mark
is expected to reach in 2013. Projections beyond 2016 made by the United Nations
(1996 Revision) has indicated that India will have 198 million persons 60+ in 2030
and 326 million in 2050. The percentage of persons 60+ in the total population has
seen a steady rise from 5.1 percent in 1901 to 6.8 percent in 1991. It is expected
to reach 8.9 percent in 2016. Projections beyond 2016 made by United Nations (1996
Revision) has indicated that 21 percent of the Indian population will be 60+ by
- Growth rate on a large demographic base implies a much larger increase in numbers.
This will be the case in the coming years. The decade 2001-11 is expected to witness
an increase of 25 million persons 60+ which is equivalent to the total population
of persons 60+ in 1961. The twenty five years period 1991 to 2016 will witness an
increase of 55.4 million persons 60+ which is nearly the same as the population
of persons 60+ in 1991. In other words, in a twenty five years period starting 1991
the population 60+ will nearly double itself.
- Sixty three percent of the population in 1991 (36 million) is in the age group 60-69
years, often referred to as 'young old' or 'not so old' while 11 percent (6 million)
is in the age group 80 years and over i.e., in the 'older old' or 'very old' category.
In 2016, the percentages in these age groups will be almost the same, but the numbers
are expected to be 69 million and 11 million respectively. In other words, close
to six tenths of population 60-69 years can be expected to be in reasonably good
physical and mental health, free of serious disability and capable of leading an
active life. About one third of the population 70-79 years can also be expected
to be fit for a reasonably active life. This is indicative of the huge reserve of
- Men outnumber women in India even after age 60 (29 million males, 27 million females
60+ in 1991). This will continue to be the situation in 2016 when there will be
an estimated 57 million males and 56 million females 60+.
- Incidence of widowhood is much higher among females 60+ than among males of the
same age group because it is customary for women to get married to men older by
several years; also, they do not remarry and live longer. There were in 1991, 14.8
million widowed females 60+ compared to 4.5 million widowed males. In other words,
there were four times as many widowed females as widowed males.
- The demographic ageing of population has implications at the macro and also at household
level. The sheer magnitude of numbers is indicative both of the huge human reserve
and also of the scale of endeavours necessary to provide social services and other
- Demographic transition has been accompanied by changes in society and economy. These
are of a positive nature in some areas and a cause of concern in others.
- A growing number of persons 60+ in the coming decades will belong to the middle
and upper income groups, be economically better off with some degree of financial
security, have higher professional and educational qualifications, lead an active
life in their 60s and even first half of the 70s, and have a positive frame of mind
looking for opportunities for a more active, creative and satisfying life.
- Some areas of concern in the situation of older persons will also emerge, signs
of which are already evident, resulting in pressures and fissures in living arrangements
of older persons. It is true that family ties in India are very strong and an overwhelming
majority live with their sons or are supported by them. Also, working couples find
the presence of old parents emotionally bonding and of great help in managing the
household and caring for children. However, due to the operation of several forces,
the position of a large number of older persons has become vulnerable due to which
they cannot take for granted that their children will be able to look after them
when they need care in old age, specially in view of the longer life span implying
an extended period of dependency and higher costs to meet health and other needs.
- Industrialisation, urbanization, education and exposure to life styles in developed
countries are bringing changes in values and life styles. Much higher costs of bringing
up and educating children and pressures for gratification of their desires affects
transfer of share of income for the care of parents. Due to shortage of space in
dwellings in urban areas and high rents, migrants prefer to leave their parents
in their native place. Changing roles and expectations of women, their concepts
of privacy and space, desire not to be encumbered by caring responsibilities of
old people for long periods, career ambitions, and employment outside the home implies
considerably reduced time for care giving. Also, adoption of small family norms
by a growing number of people implies availability of fewer care givers specially
since in a growing number of families, daughters, too, are fully occupied, pursuing
their educational or work career. The position of single persons, particularly females,
is more vulnerable in old age as few persons are willing to take care of non-lineal
relatives. So also is the situation of widows an overwhelming majority of whom have
no independent source of income, do not own assets and are totally dependent.
- Well-being of older persons has been mandated in the Constitution of India. Article
41, a Directive Principle of State Policy, has directed that the State shall, within
the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for
securing the right of public assistance in cases of old age. There are other provisions,
too, which direct the State to improve the quality of life of its citizens. Right
to equality has been guaranteed by the Constitution as a Fundamental Right. These
provisions apply equally to older persons. Social security has been made the concurrent
responsibility of the Central and State Governments.
- The last two decades have witnessed considerable discussion and debate on the impact
of demographic transition and of changes in society and economy on the situation
of older persons. The United Nations Principles for Older Persons adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly in 1991, the Proclamation on Ageing and the Global
Targets on Ageing for the year 2001 adopted by the General Assembly in 1992, and
various other Resolutions adopted from time to time, are intended to encourage governments
to design their own policies and programmes in this regard.
- There has for several years been a demand for a Policy Statement by the State towards
its senior citizens so that they do not face an identity crisis and know where they
stand in the overall national perspective. The need has been expressed at different
forums where ageing issues have been deliberated. The Statement, by indicating the
principles underlying the policy, the directions, the needs that will be addressed
and the relative roles of governmental and non-governmental institutions, is expected
to facilitate carving out of respective areas of operation and action in the direction
of a humane age integrated society.
National Policy Statement
- The National Policy seeks to assure older persons that their concerns are national
concerns and they will not live unprotected, ignored or marginalized. The goal of
the National Policy is the well-being of older persons. It aims to strengthen their
legitimate place in society and help older persons to live the last phase of their
life with purpose, dignity and peace.
- The Policy visualizes that the State will extend support for financial security,
health care, shelter, welfare and other needs of older persons, provide protection
against abuse and exploitation, make available opportunities for development of
the potential of older persons, seek their participation, and provide services so
that they can improve the quality of their lives. The Policy is based on some broad
- The Policy recognizes the need for affirmative action in favour of the elderly.
It has to be ensured that the rights of older persons are not violated and they
get opportunities and equitable share in development benefits, different sectors
of development, programmes and administrative actions will reflect sensitivity in
older persons living in rural areas. Special attention will be necessary to older
females so that they do not become victims of triple neglect and discrimination
on account of gender, widowhood and age.
- The Policy views the life cycle as a continuum, of which post 60 phase of life is
an integral part. It does not view age 60 as the cut off point for beginning a life
of dependency. It considers 60+ as a phase when the individual should have the choices
and the opportunities to lead an active, creative, productive and satisfying life.
An important thrust is therefore, on active and productive involvement of older
persons and not just their care.
- The Policy values an age integrated society. It will endeavour to strengthen integration
between generations, facilitate two way flows and interactions, and strengthen bonds
between the young and the old. It believes in the development of a social support
system, informal as well as formal, so that the capacity of families to take care
of older persons is strengthened and they can continue to live in their family.
- The Policy recognizes that older persons, too, are a resource. They render useful
services in the family and outside. They are not just consumers of goods and services
but also their producers. Opportunities and facilities need to be provided so that
they can continue to contribute more effectively to the family, the community and
- The Policy firmly believes in the empowerment of older persons so that they can
acquire better control over their lives and participate in decision making on matters
which affect them as well as on other issues as equal partners in the development
process. The decision making process will seek to involve them to a much larger
extent especially since they constitute 12 percent of the electorate, a proportion
which will rise in the coming years.
- The Policy recognizes that larger budgetary allocations from the State will be needed
and the rural and urban poor will be given special attention. However, it is neither
feasible nor desirable for the State alone to attain the objectives of the National
Policy. Individuals, families, communities and institutions of civil society have
to join hands as partners.
- The Policy emphasises the need for expansion of social and community services for
older persons, particularly women, and enhance their accessibility and use by removing
socio-cultural, economic and physical barriers and making the services client oriented
and user friendly. Special efforts will be made to ensure that rural areas, where
more than three-fourths of the older population lives, are adequately covered.
- A great anxiety in old age relates to financial insecurity. When the issue is seen
in the context of fact that one-third of the population (1993-94) is below the poverty
line and about one-third are above it but belong to the lower income group, the
financial situation of two-thirds of the population 60+ can be said to fragile.
Some level of income security in old age is a goal which will be given very high
priority. Policy instruments to cover different income segments will be developed.
- For elderly persons below the poverty line, old age pensions provide some succour.
Coverage under the old age pension scheme for poor persons will be significantly
expanded from the January 1997 level of 2.76 million with the ultimate objective
of covering all older persons below the poverty line. Simultaneously, it will be
necessary to prevent delays and check abuses in the matter of selection and disbursement.
Rate of monthly pension will need to be revised at intervals so that inflation does
not deflate its real purchasing power. Simultaneously, the public distribution system
will reach out to cover all persons 60+ living below the poverty line.
- Employees of government and quasi government bodies and industrial workers desire
better returns from accumulations in provident funds through prudent and safe investment
of the funds. Issues involved will be given careful consideration. It will be ensured
that settlement of pension, provident fund, gratuity and other retirement benefits
is made promptly and superannuated persons are not put to hardship due to administrative
lapses. Accountability for delays will be fixed. Redressal mechanisms for superannuated
persons will ensure prompt, fair and humane treatment. Widows will be given special
consideration in the matter of settlement of benefits accruing to them on the demise
- Pension is a much, sought after income security scheme. The base of pension coverage
needs to be considerably expanded. It would be necessary to facilitate the establishment
of pension schemes both in the private as well as in the public sector for self-employed
and salaried persons in non-governmental employment, with provision for employers
also to contribute. Paramount considerations in regard to pension schemes are total
security, flexibility, liquidity and maximisation of returns. Pension Funds will
function under the watchful eye of a strong regulatory authority which lays down
the investment norms and provide strong safeguards.
- Taxation policies will reflect sensitivity to the financial problems of older persons
which accelerate due to very high costs of medical and nursing care, transportations
and support services needed at home. Organisations of senior citizens have been
demanding a much higher standard deduction for them and a standard annual rebate
for medical treatment, whether domiciliary or hospital based, in cases where superannuated
persons do not get medical coverage from their erstwhile employers. There are also
demands that some tax relief must be given to son or daughter when old parents co-reside
and also allow some tax rebate for medical expenses. These and other proposals of
tax relief will be considered.
- Long term savings instruments will be promoted to reach both rural and urban areas.
It will be necessary for the contributors to feel assured that the payments at the
end of the stipulated period are attractive enough to take care of the likely erosion
in purchasing power due to erosion. Earners will be motivated to save in their active
working years for financial security in old age.
- Pre-retirement counselling programmes will be promoted and assisted.
- Employment in income generating activities after superannuation should be the choice
of the individual. Organisations which provide career guidance, training and orientation,
and support services will be assisted. Programmes of non-governmental organizations
for generating incomes of old persons will be encouraged. Age related discrimination
in the matter of entitlement to credit, marketing and other facilities will be removed.
Structural adjustment policies may affect the older workers in some sectors more
adversely, specially those in household or small scale industry. Measures will be
taken to protect their interests.
- The right of parents without any means to be supported by their children having
sufficient means has been recognised by Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, too secures this right to parents.
To simplify the procedure, provide speedy relief, lay down the machinery for processing
cases, and define the rights and circumstances in a comprehensive manner, the Himachal
Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the Himachal Pradesh Maintenance of Parents
and Dependents Bill, 1996. The Government of Maharashtra has prepared a Bill on
similar lines. Other States will be encouraged to pass similar legislation so that
old parents unable to maintain themselves do not face abandonment and acute neglect.
Health Care and Nutrition
- With advancing age, old persons have to cope with health and associated problems
some of which may be chronic, of a multiple nature, require constant attention and
carry the risk of disability and consequent loss of autonomy. Some health problems,
specially when accompanied by impaired functional capacity, require long term management
of illness at time, and of nursing care.
- Health care needs of older persons will be given high priority. The goal should
be good affordable health services, very heavily subsidised for the poor and a graded
system of user charges for others. It will be necessary to have a judicious mix
of public health services, health insurance, health services provided by not for
profit organizations including trusts and charities, and private medical care. While
the first of these will require greater State participation, the second category
will need to be promoted by the State, the third category given some assistance,
concessions and relief, and the fourth encouraged by subjected to some degree of
regulation, preferably by an association of providers of private care.
- The primary health care system will be the basic structure of public health care.
It will be strengthened and oriented to be able to meet the health care needs of
older persons as well public health services, preventive, curative, restorative
and rehabilitative, will be considerably expanded and strengthened and geriatric
care facilities provided at secondary and tertiary levels. This will imply much
larger public sector outlays, proper distribution of services in rural and urban
areas, and much better health administration and delivery systems.
- The development of health insurance will be given high priority to cater to the
needs of different income segments of the population and have provision for varying
contributions and benefits. Packages catering to the lower income groups will be
entitled to state subsidy. Various reliefs and concessions will be given to health
insurance to enlarge the base of coverage and make them affordable.
- Trusts, charitable societies and voluntary agencies will be promoted, encouraged
and assisted by way of grants, tax relief and land at subsidized rates to provide
free beds, medicines and treatment to the very poor elder citizens and reasonable
user charges for the rest of the population.
- Private medical care has expanded in recent years offering the latest medical treatment
facilities to those who can afford it. Where land and other facilities are provided
at less than market rates, bodies representing private hospitals and nursing homes
will be requested to direct their members to offer a discount to older patients.
Private general practitioners will be extended opportunities for orientation in
- Public hospitals will be directed to ensure that elderly patients are not subjected
to long waits and visits to different counters for medical tests and treatment.
They will endeavour to provide separate counters and convenient timings on specified
days. Geriatric wards will be set up.
- Medical and para-medical personnel in primary, secondary and tertiary health care
facilities will be given training and orientation in health care of the elderly.
Facilities for specialization in geriatric medicine will be provided in the medical
colleges. Training in nursing care will include geriatric care. Problems of accessibility
and use of health services by the elderly arise due to distance, absence of escort
and transportation. Difficulties in reaching a public health care facility will
be addressed through mobile health services, special camps and ambulance services
by charitable institutions and not for profit health care organizations. Hospitals
will be encouraged to have a separate Welfare Fund which will receive donations
and grants for providing free treatment and medicines to poor elderly patients.
- For the old who are chronically ill and are deprived of family support, hospices
supported or assisted by the State, public charity, and voluntary organizations
will be necessary. These are also needed to cater to cases of abandonment of chronically
ill aged patients admitted to public hospitals.
- Assistance will be given to geriatric care societies for the production and distribution
of instruction material on self care by older persons. Preparation and distribution
of easy to follow guidance material on health and nursing care of older persons
for the use of family care givers will also be supported.
- Older persons and their families will be given access to educational material on
nutritional needs in old age. Information will be made available on the foods to
avoid and the right foods to eat. Diet recipes suiting tastes of different regions
which are nutritious, tasty, fit into the dietary pattern of the family and the
community, are affordable and can be prepared from locally available vegetables,
cereals and fruits, will be disseminated.
- The concept of health ageing will be promoted. It is necessary to educate older
persons and their families that diseases are not a corollary of advancing age nor
is a particular chronological age the starting point for decline in health status.
On the contrary, preventive health care and early diagnosis can keep a person in
reasonably good health and prevent disability.
- Health education programmes will be strengthened by making use of mass media, folk
media and other communication channels which reach out to different segments of
the population. The capacity to cope with illness and manage domiciliary care will
be strengthened. Programmes will also be developed targeting the younger and middle
age groups to inform them how life styles during early years affect health status
in later years. Messages on how to stay healthy for the entire life span will be
given. The importance of balanced diets, physical exercise, regular habits, reduction
of stress, regular medical check up, allocation of time for leisure and recreation,
and pursuit of hobbies will be conveyed. Programmes on yoga, meditation and methods
of relaxation will be developed and transmitted through different channels of communication
to reach diverse audiences.
- Mental health services will be expanded and strengthened. Families will be provided
counselling facilities and information on the care and treatment of older persons
having mental health problems.
- Non-governmental organizations will be encouraged and assisted through grants, training
and orientation of their personnel and various concessions and relief to provide
ambulatory services, day care and health care to complement the efforts of the State.
- Shelter is a basic human need. The stock of housing for different income segments
will be increased. Housing schemes for urban and rural lower income segments will
earmark 10 per cent of the houses/house sites for allotment to older persons. This
will include Indira Awas Yojana and other schemes of government. Earning persons
will be motivated to invest in their housing in their earning days so that they
have no problems of shelter when they grow old. This will require speedy urban land
development for housing, time bound provision of civic services and communication
links, availability of loans at reasonable rates, easy repayment installments, time
bound construction schedules and tax reliefs. Development of housing has to be a
joint endeavour of public and private sectors and require participation of Housing
Development Boards, civic authorities, housing finance institutions and private
developers and builders. Older persons will be given easy access to loans for purchase
of housing and for major repairs, with easy repayment schedules.
- Layouts of housing colonies will have to respond to the life styles of the elderly.
It will have to be ensured that there are no physical barriers to mobility, and
accessibility to shopping complexes, community centres, parks and other services
is safe and easy. A multi-purpose centre for older persons is a necessity for social
interaction and to meet other needs. It will therefore, be necessary to earmark
sites for such centres in all housing colonies. Segregation of older persons in
housing colonies has to be avoided as it prevents interaction with the rest of the
community. Three or four storied houses without lifts are unfriendly to older persons,
tend to isolate them, restraints their movement outside the home, and are a serious
barrier to access to services. Preferences will be given to older persons in the
allotment of flats on the ground floor.
- Group housing of older persons comprising flatlets with common service facilities
for meals, laundry, common room and rest rooms will be encouraged. These would have
easy access to community services, medicare, parks, recreation and cultural centres.
- Education, training and orientation of town planners, architects and housing administrators
will include modules on needs of older persons for safe and comfortable living.
- Older persons and their families will be provided access to information on prevention
of accidents and on measures which enhance safety, taking cognizance of reduced
physical capacity and infirmities.
- Noise and other forms of pollution affect children, the sick and older persons more
adversely. Norms will be laid down and strictly enforced.
- Civic authorities and bodies providing public utilities will be required to give
top priority to attending complaints of older persons. Payment of civic dues will
be facilitated. Older persons will be given special consideration in promptly dealing
with matters relating to transfer of property, mutation, property tax and other
matters. Harassment and abuses in such cases will be checked.
- Education, training and information needs of older persons will be met. These have
received virtually no attention in the past. Information and educational material
specially relevant to the lives of older people will be developed and widely disseminated
using mass media and non-formal communication channels.
- Discriminations, if any, against older persons for availing opportunities for education,
training and orientation will be removed. Continuing education programmes will be
encouraged and supported. These would cover a wide spectrum ranging from career
development to creative use of leisure, appreciation of art,culture and social heritage
and imparting skills in community work and welfare activities. Assistance of open
universities will be sought to develop packages using distance learning techniques.
Access of older persons to libraries of universities, research institutions and
cultural centres will be facilitated.
- Educational curriculum at all stages of formal education as also non-formal education
programmes will incorporate material to strengthen intergenerational bonds and mutually
supporting relationships. Interactions with educational institutions will be facilitated
whereby older persons with professional qualifications and knowledge in science,
arts, environment, socio-cultural heritage, sports and other areas could interact
with children and young persons. Schools will be encouraged and assisted to develop
out-reach programmes for interacting with older persons on a regular basis, participate
in the running of senior citizens centres and develop activities in them.
- Individuals of all ages, families and communities will be provided with information
about the ageing process and the changing roles, responsibilities and relationships
at different stages of the life cycle. The contributions of older persons inside
the household and outside will be highlighted through the media and other forums
and negative images, myths and stereotypes dispelled.
- The main thrust of welfare will be to identify the more vulnerable among the older
persons such as the poor,the disabled, the infirm, the chronically sick and those
without family support, and provide welfare services to them on a priority basis.
The policy will be to consider institutional care as the last resort when personal
circumstances are such that stay in old age homes becomes absolutely necessary.
- Non-institutional services by voluntary organizations will be promoted and assisted
to strengthen the coping capacity of older persons and their families. This has
become necessary since families, as they become smaller and women work outside the
home, have to cope with scarcity of full time care givers. Support services will
provide some relief through sharing of the family's caring responsibilities.
- Assistance will be provided to voluntary organizations by way of grants-in-aid for
construction and maintenance of old age homes. Those for the poor will be heavily
subsidized. It is important that such institutions become lively places of stay
and provide opportunities to residents to interact with the outside world. Non-governmental
organizations will be encouraged to seek professional expertise in the designing
of old age homes, keeping in view needs of group living at this stage of the life
cycle and the class of clients they serve. Minimum standards of services in such
homes will be developed and facilities provided for training and orientation of
persons employed in these homes.
- Voluntary organizations will be encouraged and assisted to organize services such
as day care, multi-service citizen's centres, reach-out services, supply of disability
related aids and appliances, assistance to old persons to learn to use them, short
term stay services and friendly home visits by social workers. For old couples or
persons living on their own, helpline, telephone assurance services, help in maintaining
contacts with friends, relatives and neighbours and escorting older persons to hospitals,
shopping complexes and other places will be promoted for which assistance will be
given to voluntary organizations. Older persons will be encouraged to form informal
groups of their own in the neighbourhood which satisfy the needs for social interaction,
recreation and other activities. For a group of neighbourhoods/villages, the formation
of senior citizen's forums will be encouraged.
- A Welfare Fund for older persons will be set up. It will obtain funding support
from government, corporate sector, trusts, charities, individual donors and others.
Contributions to the Fund will be given tax relief. States will be expected to establish
- The need for plurality of arrangements for welfare services is recognised. Government,
voluntary organizations and private sector agencies all have a place, the latter
catering to those who have the means and desire better standards of care.
Protection of Life and Property
- Old persons have become soft targets for criminal elements. They also become victims
of fraudulent dealings and of physical and emotional abuse within the household
by family members to force them to part with their ownership rights. Widow's rights
of inheritance, occupancy and disposal are at times violated by their own children
and relatives. It is important that protection is available to older persons. The
introduction of special provisions in IPC to protect older persons from domestic
violence will be considered and machinery provided to attend all such cases promptly.
Tenancy legislation will be reviewed so that the rights of occupancy of older persons
are restored speedily.
- Voluntary organizations and associations of older persons will be assisted to provide
protective services and help to senior citizens through helpline services, legal
aid and other measures.
- Police will be directed to keep a friendly vigil on older couples or old single
persons living alone and promote mechanisms of interaction with neighbourhood associations.
Information and advice will be made available to older persons on the importance
of keeping contacts on phone with relatives, friends and neighbours and on precautions
to be taken on matters such as prevention of unauthorized entry, hiring of domestic
help, visits of repair and maintenance persons, vendors and others, and the handling
of cash and valuables.
Other Areas of Action
- There are various other areas which would need affirmative action of the State to
ensure that policies and programmes reflect sensitivity to older persons. Among
these are issue of identity cards by the administration; fare concessions in all
modes of travel; preference in reservation of seats and earmarking of seats in local
public transport; modifications in designs of public transport vehicles for easy
entry and exit; strict enforcement of traffic discipline at zebra crossings to facilitate
older persons to cross streets; priority in gas and telephone connections and in
fault repairs; removal of physical barriers to facilitate easy movement, concessions
in entrance fees in leisure and entertainment facilities: art and cultural centres
and places of tourist interest.
- Speedy disposal of complaints of older persons relating to fraudulent dealings,
cheating and other matters will go a long way in providing relief to them. Machinery
for achieving this objective will be put in place.
- Issues pertaining to older persons will be highlighted every year on the National
Older Person's Day. The year 2000 will be declared as the National Year for Older
Persons. Activities during the year will be planned and executed with the participation
of different organizations.
- Facilities, concessions and reliefs given to older persons by the Central and State
governments and the agencies will be complied, updated at regular intervals and
made available to associations of older persons for wide dissemination.
- The State alone cannot provide all the services needed by older persons. Private
sector agencies cater to a rather small paying segment of the population. The National
Policy recognizes the NGO sector as a very important institutional mechanism to
provide user friendly affordable services to complement the endeavours of the State
in this direction.
- Voluntary effort will be promoted and supported in a big way and efforts made to
remedy the current uneven spread both within a state and between states. There will
be continuous dialogue and communication with NGOs on ageing issues and on services
to be provided. Networking, exchange of information and interactions among NGOs
will be facilitated. Opportunities will be provided for orientation and training
of manpower. Transparency, accountability, simplification of procedures and timely
release of grants to voluntary organizations will ensure better services. The grant-in-aid
policy will provide incentives to encourage organization to raise their own resources
and not become dependent only on government funding for providing services on a
- Trusts, charities, religious and other endowments will be encouraged to expand their
areas of concern to provide services to the elderly by involving them on ageing
- Older persons will be encouraged to organize themselves to provide services to fellow
senior citizens thereby making use of their professional knowledge, expertise and
contacts. Initiatives taken by them in advocacy, mobilization of public opinion,
raising of resources and community work will be supported.
- Support will be provided for setting up volunteer programmes which will mobilize
the participation of older persons and others in community affairs, interact with
the elders and help them with their problems. Volunteers will be provided opportunities
for training and orientation on handling problems of the elderly and kept abreast
of developments in the field to promote active ageing. Volunteers will be encouraged
to assist the home bound elderly, particularly frail and elderly women and help
them to overcome loneliness.
- Trade unions, employers organizations and professional bodies will be approached
to organize sensitivity programmes for their members on ageing issues, and promote
and organize services for superannuated workers.
Realising the Potential
- The National Policy recognizes that 60+ phase of life is a huge untapped resource.
Facilities will be made available so that this potential is realized and individuals
are enabled to make the appropriate choices.
- Older persons, particularly women, perform useful but unsung roles in the household.
Efforts will be made to make family members appreciate and respect the contribution
of older persons in the running of the household specially when women, too, are
working outside the home. Special programmes will be designed and disseminated through
the media targeted at older persons so that they can enrich and update their knowledge,
integrate tradition with contemporary needs and transmit more effectively socio-cultural
heritage to the grandchildren.
- Family is the most cherished social institution in India and the most vital non-formal
social security for the old. Most older persons stay with one or more of their children,
particularly when independent living is no longer feasible. It is for them the most
preferred living arrangement and also the most emotionally satisfying. It is important
that the familial support system continues to be functional and the ability of the
family to discharge its caring responsibilities is strengthened through support
- Programmes will be developed to promote family values, sensitise the young on the
necessity and desirability of inter-generational bonding and continuity and the
desirability of meeting filial obligations. Values of caring and sharing need to
be reinforced. Society will need to be sensitized to accept the role of married
daughters in sharing the responsibility of supporting older parents in the light
of changing context where parents have only one or two children, in some situations
only daughter. This would require some adjustment and changes in perceptions of
in-laws in regard to sharing of caring responsibilities by sons and daughters as
a corollary to equal rights of inheritance and the greater emotional attachment
that daughters have with their parents.
- State policies will encourage children to co-reside with their parents by providing
tax relief, allowing rebates for medical expenses and giving preference in the allotment
of houses, persons will be encouraged to go in for long term savings instruments
and health insurance during their earning days so that financial load on families
can be eased. NGOs will be encouraged and assisted to provide services which reach
out to older persons in the home or in the community. Short term stay-in facilities
for older persons will be supported so that families can get some relief when they
go out. Counselling services will be strengthened to resolve inter-familial stresses.
- The importance of a good data base on older persons is recognised. Research activity
on ageing will require to be strengthened. Universities, medical colleges and research
institutions will be assisted to set up centres for gerontological studies and geriatrics.
Corporate bodies, Banks, Trusts and Endowments will be requested to institute Chairs
in Universities and medical colleges in gerontology and geriatrics. Funding support
will be provided to academic bodies for research projects on ageing. Superannuated
scientists will be assisted so that their professional knowledge can be utilized.
- An interdisciplinary coordinating body on research will be set up. Data collecting
agencies will be requested to have a separate age category 60 years and above. Professional
associations of gerontologists will be assisted to strengthen research activity,
disseminate research findings and provide a platform for dialogue, discussion, debate
and exchange of information.
- The necessity of a national institute of research, training and documentation is
recognised. Assistance will be given for setting up resource centres in different
parts of the country.
Training of Manpower
- The policy recognizes the importance of trained manpower. Medical colleges will
be assisted to offer specialization in geriatrics. Training institutions for nurses
and for the paramedical personnel need to introduce specific courses on geriatric
care in their educational and training curriculum. Inservice training centres will
be strengthened to take up orientation courses on geriatric care. Assistance will
be provided for development of curriculum and course material. Schools of Social
Work and University Departments need to give more attention in their organization
of services for them. Facilities will be provided and assistance given for training
and orientation of personnel of non-governmental organizations providing services
to older persons. Exchange of training personnel will be facilitated.
- Assistance will be given for development and organization of sensitization programmes
on ageing for legislative, judicial and executive wings at different levels.
- The National Policy recognizes that media have a very important role to play in
highlighting the changing situation of older persons and in identifying emerging
issues and areas of action. Creative use of media can promote the concept of active
ageing and help dispel stereotypes and negative images about this stage of the life
cycle. Media can also help to strengthen inter-generation bonds and provide individuals,
families and groups with information and educational material which will give better
understanding of the ageing process and of ways to handle problems as they arise.
- The Policy aims to involve mass media as well as informal and traditional communication
channels on ageing issues. It will be necessary to provide opportunities to media
personnel to have access to information apart from their own independent sources
of information and reporting of field situations. Their participation in orientation
programmes on ageing will be facilitated. Opportunities will be extended for greater
interaction between media personnel and persons active in the field of ageing.
III - Implementation
- The National Policy on Older Persons will be very widely disseminated for which
an action plan will be prepared so that its features remain in constant public focus.
- The Policy will make a change in the lives of senior citizens only if it is implemented.
While the government and its principal organs have some basic responsibilities in
the matter, other institutions as well as individuals will need to consider how
they can play their respective roles for the well-being of older persons. Collaborative
action will go a long way in achieving a more humane society which gives older persons
their legitimate place. Apex level organisations of older persons have special responsibilities
in this regard so that they can function as a watchdog, energise continuing action,
mobilize public opinion and generate pressure for implementation of the Policy.
- The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will be the nodal Ministry to coordinate
all matters relating to the implementation of the Policy. A separate bureau of older
persons will be set up. An Inter-Ministerial Committee will coordinate matters relating
to implementation of the National Policy and monitor its progress. States will be
encouraged to set up separate Directorates of Older Persons and set up machinery
for coordination and monitoring.
- Five year and Annual Action Plans will be prepared by each Ministry to implement
aspects which concern them. These will indicate steps to be taken to ensure flow
of benefits to older persons from general programmes and from schemes specially
formulated for their well-being. Targets will be set within the framework of a time
schedule. Responsibility for implementation of action points will be specified.
The Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry will facilitate budgetary provisions
required for implementation. The Annual Report of each Ministry will indicate progress
achieved during the year.
- Every three years a detailed review will be prepared by the nodal Ministry on the
implementation of the National Policy. There will be non-official participation
in the preparation of the document. The review will be a public document. It will
be discussed in a National Convention. State Governments and Union Territory Administrations
will be urged to take similar action.
- An autonomous National Council for Older Persons headed by the Minister for Social
Justice and Empowerment will be set up to promote and co-ordinate the concerns of
older persons. The Council will include representatives of relevant Central Ministries
and the Planning Commission. Five States will be represented on the Council by rotation.
Adequate representation will be given to non-official members representing Non-Government
Organisations, Academic Bodies, Media and Experts on Ageing issues from different
- An autonomous registered National Association of Older Persons (NAOPS) will be established
to mobilize senior citizens, articulate their interests, promote and undertake programmes
and activities for their well being and to advise the Government on all matters
relating to the Older Persons. The Association will have National, State and District
level offices and will choose its own bearers. The Government will provide financial
support to establish the National and State level offices while the District level
offices will be established by the Association from its own resources which may
be raised through Membership, subscriptions, donations and other admissible means.
The Government will also provide financial assistance to the National and State
level offices to cover both recurring as well as non-recurring administrative costs
for a period of 15 years and thereafter the Association is to be expected to be
- Panchayati Raj institutions will be encouraged to participate in the implementation
of the National Policy, address local level issues and needs of the ageing and implement
programmes for them. They will provide Forums for discussing concerns of older persons
and activities that need to be taken. Such forums will be encouraged at Panchayat,
block and district level. They will have adequate representation of older women.
Panchayats will mobilize the talents and skills of older persons and draw up plans
for utilizing these at the local level. Amongst others, the help of the Social Justice
Committees of the village panchayats will be taken to advocate different measures
for giving effect to the Policy.
- In order to ensure effective implementation of the policy at different levels, from
time to time the help of experts of public administrations shall be taken to prepare
the details of the organizational set up for the implementation, coordination and
monitoring of the Policy.