Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that India traditionally enjoyed a robust joint family system and the fast changing socio-economic conditions ware leading to its disintegration. He was addressing the gathering at the 18th National Conference of Senior Citizens organized by the All India Senior Citizens Confederation (AISCCON), at Hyderabad today.
The Vice President said that there was an inherent social security in our joint family system as it took great care of the elderly.
The Vice President said that with the emergence of nuclear families, the elderly were increasingly getting neglected and their dignity was also adversely affected. Whenever the family system fails in its duty to protect the elderly, the community, civil society and the government have to step in to fill the vacuum, he added.
The Vice President also expressed his concern over the instances of children abandoning their parents and said the neglect and abuse of the elderly was “abhorrent and completely unacceptable”.
Shri Naidu said that in spite of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act 2007, the number of cases of children abandoning their elderly parents was on the rise. Apart from abandonment, the elderly also faced neglect, abuse, physical, verbal and emotional and other forms of violence, he added.
The Vice President said that currently, there were an estimated 10.5 crore elderly in India and by 2050 the figure would reach 32.4 crore. Worldwide, by 2050 every fifth person will be an elder person and there will be 64 countries including India where 30% of the population will be 60 plus, he added.
Pointing out that more than 70% of our elders reside in rural areas, the Vice President said the rise in rural population of senior citizens was due to large scale migration of younger generation to urban areas. The elderly in rural areas were facing deprivation, discrimination, dispossession, loneliness and abuse, he added.
Shri Naidu said that out of the total population of the elders, 70% – that is around eight crore people – are below the poverty line. He further said that the pension they receive from the government was inadequate. Even though the situation has improved with the recent Direct Benefit Transfer, we still have a long way to go, he added.
The Vice President said that social security should be made mandatory once the Indian economy improves. “I am more in favour of social security than giving freebies”, he added.
Asserting that it was of paramount importance to provide the much-needed physical, financial and social security and dignity to our elderly, the Vice President said the National Policy on Older Persons must be implemented by all State Governments in letter and spirit.
Observing that the implementation of various welfare measures for Senior Citizens cannot wait, the Vice President said “we must focus on affordable health care, insurance, personal security, prevention of abuse, establishment of multi-purpose day care centres, setting up of homes for the elderly, geriatric wards in hospitals and construction of shelters for the abandoned”.
Stressing the need for expanding geriatric healthcare facilities in our hospitals, he said. Our cities and the facilities within them should be accessible to the elderly. Senior Citizens have the right to barrier- free public places, he added.
The Vice President also urged the companies to expand their CSR activities by including elders’ issues.
Pointing out that our civilization has always been proud of the way we treated our elderly, he said it was the duty of the youngsters to take care of the elderly.
AISCCON is the largest body of senior citizens with a membership of around 20 lakhs and works towards improving the welfare of senior citizens.
In this 18th Conference held in Hyderabad, the Vice President felicitated centenarians, Shri V. Tirupati Rao, founder member of Association of Sr. Citizens of Hyderabad and Smt. Rukinamma. He also presented life time
achievement awards to Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, founder Chairman of Apollo Hospitals, Shri. R.N. Mital, former President of AISCCON and Dr. S.P. Kinjwadekar, founder member AISCCON.
Shri Justice Subhashan Reddy, Former Chief Justice, Tamil Nadu, Kerala High Court and Shri Vijayarama Rao, Ex-Director of CBI were also present. Senior citizens from SAARC countries, including a large number from Nepal are attending the two day conference.>