Magazine 2012
Aging Problem in India And  
Social Support For The Aged  
Dr. Beenu Singh  
B. M. Ruia College, Mumbai.  
There will be two elderly persons for every child in the world by 2050, going by the projections of the UN  
Population Division. This implies that the 60-plus category, which now constitutes less than 20 per centre of the  
population, will account for 32 percent the population by 2050.Another disturbing revelation made by the UN  
agency is that fertility levels in the most developing countries are expected to fall below 2.1 children per  
woman, the level needed to ensure the long-term replacement of the population at some point in the 21  
century. As for the developed countries such as Japan and Germany, rapid grayling of the population could  
result in an acute manpower shortage, requiring the service of the b guest workersb  to run the economy.  
Population aging is a worldwide phenomenon, and India is no longer exception to the rule. Census  
report indicates that Indian Population has approximately tripled during last 50 years, but the number of elderly  
Indians has increased more than fourfold. When considering the continuation of trend, the United Nations  
predicts that the Indian population will grow by 50%in next 50 years, whereas the elderly population is expected  
to grow another four fold. Research in India reveals that 90 per cent of the old people belong to the unorganised  
sector, with no social security at the age of 60. Thirty per cent of the elderly live below the poverty line and  
another 33 percent just marginally above it. Eighty per cent live in the rural areas. An estimated 73 per cent are  
illiterate, and can only be engaged in physical labour. And 55per cent of women over 60 are widows, many of  
them with no support whatsoever. There are nearly 200,000 centenarians in India. The incredible increase in life  
expectancy may be termed one of the greatest triumphs of human civilization. But it has posed one of the  
toughest challenges to be met by modern society. The term b oldb  is always related to physical incapacity,  
biological deterioration and disabilities and psychological failures. A healthy lifestyle is also required during  
old age. But in the Indian context, there exist three different trends that are seriously threatening the chances of  
meeting such needs. These are a rapidly growing elderly population, the gradual erosion of the traditional joint  
family system and the inability of the government to sustain the incremental burden of pension expenses for its  
own employees. Hence, the possibility of government support for any other section of the elderly population  
in the society may be ruled out (Vaidyanathan2003). However, an aged person has the right to decide about  
personal needs and aspirations, depending upon capacity. Only a sound social security system can protect  
such rights by assuring regular income during the post-retirement years. But developing such a system for the  
Indian populace is a Herculean task, as a majority of them do not currently enjoy any type of old-age income  
security. Neither the government nor the public sector alone can formulate it; the private sector cannot develop  
it in isolation either. Joint approaches and strategies will be required to design and build up a robust old-age  
income security system (WHO 2002).  
Government of India announced the National Policy on Older Persons in 1999 to reaffirm its commitment  
to ensure the well-being of the older persons in a holistic manner.Reiterating the mandate enshrined in  
Article 41 of the Constitution of India, the Policy has brought the concern for older persons on top of the  
National Agenda. The NPOP while promising to safeguard their interest in terms of financial security,  
health, legal, social and psychological security, also envisages a productive partnership with them in the  
process of development by creating opportunities for their gainful engagement and employment. The  
Policy also appreciates special needs of older persons and therefore lays emphasis on empowerment of  
community as well as individuals to adequately meet the challenges of the process of ageing.  
The NPOP broadly provides for the following to full- fill these objectives:  
.1. Financial security through coverage under Old Age Pension Scheme for poor and Destitute older persons,  
better returns on earnings/savings of Government/Quasi- Government employeesb  savings in Provident  
Fund, etc., creating opportunities for continued education/skill up-gradation ensuring thereby continued  
employment/self employment and income generation and provision for Pension Scheme for self-  
employed,employees of the non-formal, and non-governmental sector.  
.2. Health Security: The NPOP recognizes special health needs of the older persons to be met through  
strengthening and reorienting the public health services at Primary Health Care level, creation of health  
facilities through non-profit organization like trust/charity, etc., and implementing health insurance.  
.3. Recognizing Shelter as basic human need, the NPOP provides for earmarking 10 percent of the houses/  
housing sites in urban as well as rural areas for older persons belonging to the lower income groups,  
special consideration to the older persons falling in the category of Below Poverty Line (BPL) and  
destitute in housing schemes like Indira Awas Yojana, loans at reasonable interest rates and easy repayment  
installments with tax relief for purchase of houses etc.  
.4. Education/information needs of older persons too have got adequately reflected in the National Policy.  
Education/information material relevant to the lives of older persons should be developed and made  
available through mass media. Education, training and information being the important human  
requirement, the NPOP provides for proactive role in ensuring the same by disseminating knowledge  
about preparation of Old Age. It is also emphasized for schools to have programme on inter-generational  
.5. Welfare and Institutional Care: Institutional Care has been provided for in the NPOP as the last resort.  
The care in non-institutional set up i.e. within family and the community needs to be strengthened and  
encouraged. This apart, the State should also create infrastructure in partnership with voluntary  
organizations to provide for poor, destitute and neglected older persons whose care cannot be ensured  
within the family. This is to be ensured through Old Age Homes and other such institutional facilities that  
would be needed. Voluntary efforts needs to be encouraged for creating facilities for day care, outreach  
services, multi-service citizen centres, etc.  
.6. Protection of Life and Property of Older Persons: The State has to gear up security network to save older  
persons from criminal offence and police is required to keep friendly vigil. Early settlement of property/  
inheritance disputes is to be done, safeguards to protect them from fraudulent dealings in transfer of  
property through sale/b Willb  are to be put in place and free legal aid and toll free helpline services are to  
be placed across the country. Maintenance of elderly within family resorting to the provisions of law viz.  
Criminal Procedure Code, (Cr.P.C.) 1973, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. (HAMA) 1956 etc.,  
whenever needed is required to be ensured.  
.7. Training of Human Resource to care for Older Persons: The Policy lays emphasis on need for trained  
personnel/care givers. This envisages the training of human resource in the areas like specialization in  
Geriatrics in medical courses, special courses on Geriatric Care in nursing training, training of social  
workers specially for geriatric care and professional caregivers.  
.8 Media: The Policy enjoins upon media to take up a special responsibility for the care of older persons.  
Media is to play a role in identifying emerging issues and areas of action, dispelling stereo-types and  
negative images about the old age, maintaining restraint from creating fear psychosis by responsible  
reporting, promoting intergenerational bonds and informing individuals/families/groups with appropriate  
information on ageing process  
National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) The National Social Assistance Programme came into  
effect from 15th August, 1995. NSAP is a social assistance programme for the poor households and  
represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the Directive Principles enshrined in Article 41 and  
42 of the Constitution of India, recognizing concurrent responsibility of the Central and State Governments  
in the matter.  
.1 The National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) The Scheme covers older persons/destitutes having  
little or no regular means of subsistence from his/her own source of income or through financial support  
from family members or other sources. The age of applicant must be 65 years or above. At present 50%  
of the older persons under Below Poverty Line (BPL) destitutes are covered under NOAPS. The Central  
Government contributes Rs.200/- per month per beneficiary. The State (Provincial) Governments are  
advised to add matching amount or more as their contribution in the federal set-up. During the Tenth  
Five Year Plan (2002 b  07) a total of 110,793,860 elderly were covered and US $ 1002.20 million  
approximately was incurred on this count.  
.2 Annapurna Scheme Annapurna Scheme covers all the other elderly below poverty line who are not  
covered under the NOAPS. A provision of 10 of rice or wheat is provided to the needy elderly.  
Under the scheme US $ 56 million was incurred and 43,03,491 elderly were covered in tenth plan (2002-  
Concessions/Tax Rebate/Other Incentives  
2.1 Presently persons of 60 years of age are entitled for 30% concessions in train fare in all classes. There are  
different airlines providing 45% to 50% concession in air journey to senior citizens.  
.2 Older persons who are above 65 years of age also enjoy income tax rebate upto 15,000 of actual tax  
with provision for deduction of Rs.20,000 spent on account of medical insurance premium and Rs.40,000  
spent on account of medical treatment from taxable income. Senior citizens are exempted from Income  
Tax upto 1.95 lakh as per the union Annual Budget, 2007.  
.3 Banks are providing 0.5% -1% additional interest to older persons of 65 years and above on fixed  
deposit. The public facilities for the elderly are initiated by the Government which include reservation of  
seats for elderly in the public transport, railways and airways etc.  
Insurance Coverage  
.1 Some of the public sector insurance companies provide life insurance coverage upto 75 years of age  
and many private insurance companies have 55 years as the last entry age. The Insurance Policy Schemes  
announced for older persons include Jeevan Dhara (18-65 years), Jeevan Akshay (30-75 years), Jeevan  
Suraksha (25-60 years), Senior Citizen Unit Plan (18-54 years). In addition, Health Insurance Schemes  
covering Mediclaim Policy and other individual and Group Mediclaim Policies are also offered by  
Nationalized as well as private insurance companies. The government is taking steps to enforce a uniform  
policy on all Insurance Companies as regards entry age of Senior Citizens.  
3.2 The government has launched a Reverse Mortgage System for senior citizens to extract value out of their  
property and lead a hassle free life by securing a regular income as loan against their existing property.  
Integrated Programmes for Older Persons  
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India is implementing an Integrated Programme  
for Older Persons with an aim to empower and improve the quality of life of older persons. The basic  
thrust of the programme is on older persons of 60 years and above particularly the infirm, destitute and  
widows. Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to Non-Governmental Organizations,  
Autonomous Bodies, Educational Institutions, Cooperative Societies, etc., up to 90 per cent of the  
project cost for setting up and maintenance of Day Care Centres, Mobile Medi-care Units, Old Age  
Homes and Non-Institutional Service Centres. During the Tenth Five Year plan, Ministry provided financial  
assistance to voluntary organizations to the tune of US $ 18.6 million.  
Construction of Old Age Homes  
The scheme for Assistance to construction of Old Age Homes provides one time grant to Local Bodies,  
NGOs etc. for construction of Old Age Homes or Multi-Service Centres for older persons. The Ministry  
also incurred an expenditure of US $ 70,000 for construction of Old Age Homes during Tenth FiveYear  
Health Security  
Growing old is also marked by failing health and advancing age may bring with it enumberable health  
complications. Restricted physical mobility coupled with crippled health makes it difficult for older  
persons to access the health facilities if they do not enjoy the support of the family or have a care  
institution within their easy access. Realizing the real situation wherein the older persons live, Para 36 of  
the National Policy envisages covering of health insurance and financial security towards essential medical  
care and affordable treatment process. Some of the initiatives by the Government is enabling a separate  
counters/O.P.D. in hospitals and free medical services in Central Government Health Scheme, Government  
Hospitals to facilitate easy accessibility to the elderly including Geriatric Units in the Hospitals.  
Care of Alzheimerb s Disease and other Dementias Many of the Government and public hospitals have  
started Memory Clinics, Mental Health Programmes to facilitate proper diagnosis of Dementia to enable  
slowing down the process and preparing the care-givers and the family to manage Alzheimerb s and  
Dementia Care . The National Institute of Social Defence under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment  
has initiated training of care-givers and functionaries as a special initiative on the centenary of Alzheimerb s  
A Legislation On The Anvil  
.1 The older persons become soft target for miscreants within and outside family. Disputes relating to  
aintenance and property and inheritance adds to their vulnerability. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure  
the safety and well-being of Older Persons through creation of necessary infrastructure and legal provisions.  
.2 It is felt that it is high time to back the moral obligation of children to look after their parents in their old  
age by a legal obligation. India is moving ahead to safeguard and protect the Best Interest of Older  
Persons through Central Legislation, which is on the anvil, by  
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Ensuring Care and Protection of Older Persons within the family  
Ensuring early settlement of maintenance claim through a Tribunal  
Prevention of destitution by enough Institutional facilities  
Provision for Old Age Homes covering all the districts to ensure that facility to accommodate 150  
needy elderly in each of them.  
Helpline Services for Older Persons  
2.1 The State Governments. and Office of the Commissioner of Police in collaboration with NGOs have  
initiated special protective measures for safeguarding the elderly and one such innovative approach is  
Helpline Servicesb  in some big cities.  
S.No. Deptt/NGOs  
Delhi Police -  
1291- 1091- 100  
Agewell Foundation, New Delhi  
Nightingales MedicalTrust & City Police,Bangalore  
Dignity Foundation, Delhi Chapter, Mumbai Chapter  
Chennai Chapter, Jamshedpur, Chapter, Kolkata Chapter  
Training & Human Resource Development for Home Care  
In the changing family context, role of professionally trained home carers become very crucial.  
Therefore, preparing a frontline cadre of care givers to ensure quality care at home as well as in the  
institutions is one of the important strategies. In the wake of disintegration of Joint Family System, it is  
ensured that professionally trained carers are available to meet the demand. In order to meet this objective,  
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment launched the Project b NICEb  (National Initiative on Care for  
Elderly) through National Institute of Social Defence (NISD) an autonomous body of the Ministry of  
Social Justice & Empowerment in 2000. The NISD organizes one year P.G. Diploma Course and Six  
Month Certificate Courses under Project NICE to meet the demand for care givers. In addition, Short  
Terms Courses varying from 5 days to One Month are also organized for skill upgradation of Service  
Providers working in Old Age Homes, etc. In the X Five year plan, NISD as so far organised 85 training  
programme and 2535 care givers and service providers were trained.  
Community Training in Computer for Elderly b There is a] foundational connection between information  
and social obligation, since the moral b  and of course the political b  need to pay attention to others  
depends greatly on our knowledge and information about themb &. More information in itself goes a long  
way to breaking that chain of apathy and indifference.b  - Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate  
.1 To foster active and productive ageing NISD has initiated a novel programme for the older people. It  
aims at imparting computer training to the elderly people. The success of a few trainings conducted  
earlier had left no doubt that older people not only love to learn at the b ripe ageb  but benefit from it. This  
programme is launched with a view to help Older Persons dispel their inhibitions to adopt to new  
technology and take advantage of IT enabled services like e-Ticketing, e-Banking, e-Business etc.  
.2. By demonstrating that elders can use computers comfortably. We are countering the stereotypical  
mind-set and attitude on the one hand and instill confidence among elderly on the other. This is bound  
to go a long way in bringing a neglected segment of population in b digital mainstream.b   
Single Window System  
Facilities to disseminate information on various concessions/reservations/rebates provided to senior  
citizens by different Ministries of the Government of India is placed on the website of the Ministry of  
Social Justice & Empowerment. NISD has also taken such initiatives by developing a User Friendly  
Document on Geriatric Care. Which is available on The information is also disseminated  
to the elderly through Helpline Services. Some of the NGOs such as Helpage India have also brought  
out Senior Citizens Guide.  
Voluntary Bureau of Elderly  
Volunteers Bureau of Elderly is a network of elderly who could be available for different kinds of services  
on demand. The International Longevity Centre, Pune an NGO working for welfare of elderly has successfully  
used this concept over the years for gainful engagement of elderly post-retirement. The NISD in  
collaboration with them organized Workshops to showcase the successful models of Government and  
NGO interventions including the volunteers Bureau for winder replication and laying thrust on the concept  
of volunteerism, inter-generational bonding and successful experiences sharing.  
Inter-Generational Bonding  
Bridging the intergenerational gap is another innovative project has been pilot tested by the Ministry of  
Social Justice & Empowerment The programme would be carried out for school children by creating  
awareness and sensitizing them on the issue.  
Innovative public training  
Creating broader awareness of the issues, available services, rights and redressal mechanisms are an  
important means to create an elderly friendly environment. NISD has taken it up in a serious manner and  
had developed a number of video spots to be aired on popular TV channels. It has developed an  
innovative b do-it-yourselfb  publicity material like an interesting cataract awareness b wall hangingb . In addition,  
there are other useful publications and exhibits giving latest information about schemes, concessions,  
rights and available services for the elderly people.  
There are a number of specialized NGOs coming up to join hands with the efforts of the government  
towards creating an elderly friendly environment in the country. The Senior Citizen Forums and Welfare  
Associations have been formed by the elderly themselves in various localities in Delhi. Senior Citizens  
Council, New Delhi has more than 500 members from all walks of life. They assemble at a Public Park  
everyday for an hour in the morning to attend religious discourses. The other activities of the Forum  
includes yoga, free health checkup camps, special care of senior citizens who were living alone Helpage  
India is dedicated to the service of elderly through various programmes. In one of the major initiatives in  
the State of Gujarat it has got 63 Self Help Groups formed consisting of an overall 1000 elderly women.  
Servants of People Society at Chandigarh, a national level NGO, is working for the cause of elderly and  
stresses upon the value systems of our tradition.  
As programme for the aged should deal with their physical, psychological and emotional needs. For  
loneliness and a sense of guilt on being dependent on the family continues to haunt them with sustained  
vigour. As such sociologists suggest that the aged should be made to involve themselves in creative  
and developmental programmes. Most importantly, perhaps, is the need for sensitivity and sensibility  
in making these plans. The elder citizen is a national treasure; one who has contributed to both national  
growth and familial development. As they approach the autumn of their lives, they experience diminishing  
ability to generate income, increasing vulnerability to illness and disability, and increasing dependency  
on their families and communities. Rather than view this dependence as a burden to be endured, we  
must as a society embrace it whole-heartedly, as a pay back opportunity; to thank senior citizens for  
their many unconditional contributions. The organisation and delivery of elder health care must therefore  
be approached with enthusiasm, altruism and generosity. Mature health policy for the elder combined  
with a generous dose of pragmatism in organising, delivering and funding health care services is the  
need of the hour. World Alzheimerb s Day has just passed b  September 21, 2010, and we should be  
reminded about the challenge of population ageing; the looming burden of elder disability; and the  
need for a comprehensive and pragmatic National Policy for Older Persons.  
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Bhatla, P.C. (ed.). b Proceedings on Care of the Elderly - A Round-Table Discussionb , 6-8 December  
986, New Delhi.  
Biswas, A.K. b Demographic Profiles of the Aged in India,b  presented at the Eighth Annual Conference of  
I.A.S.P., New Delhi.  
Chanana, H.B., P.P. Talwar, b Implications of Demographic Goals in 2000 AD for the Aging Population in  
Indiab , presented at the World Congress on Sociology, 18-20 August 1986, New Delhi.  
Government of India, Ministry of Social Welfare, b The Aged ln India,b  country paper for World Assembly  
on Aging, 26 July- 6 August 1982, Vienna.Hand Book on Social Welfare Statistics, 1916, New Delhi.  
Kurup, A.M. b Welfare Progammes for the Aged,b  presented at the Seminar on Programmes and Services  
for the Aged, 28-30 October 1986, New Delhi.  
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Registrar General of India, General Population Tables, Part II-A, Census of India, 1961,Series 1.  
General Population Tables, Part II-A, Census of India, 1971, Series 1.  
Key Population Statistics Based on 5 Per Cent Sample Data, Census of India,B71981.  
Expert Committee on Population Projections. All India Projections for 1991-2001, New Delhi, 1985.  
General Economic Tables, Part II-B (ii), Census of India, Vol. I, 1965.  
General Economic Tables, Part II-B (ii), Census of India, 1971, Series I.Key Population Statistics Based  
on 5 Per Cent Sample Data, Census of India, Paper-2, 1983.  
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National Sample Survey - 28th Round, Report on Morbidity, October 1973-January.  
Various sites of the internet.  
Various news paper articles