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Why the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 alone is not sufficient?

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Why the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 alone is not sufficient?

Context:

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how older persons face unique challenges.

 

Challenges/vulnerabilities faced by them include:

  • Ageist attitudes and stereotypes expose older people to discrimination and negative treatment, which intersect with other forms of stigma based on gender, race and disability.
  • Their diseases and deaths are considered “acceptable” and often mistaken as a part of ageing.
  • Elder abuse has exponentially risen during the pandemic based on the published report of HelpAge India.
  • Misinformation and myths about old age, lack of specific health and policy measures, ageism in society and limited digital literacy contribute to the unique vulnerabilities in older persons.

 

According to the recently released WHO report on ageism:

  1. One in three individuals worldwide share ageist attitudes and stereotypes.
  2. This has led to marginalisation of older persons in society and a serious human rights crisis.
  3. Rights infringements extend to violations of dignity, autonomy, respect, capacity, inclusion and equality.
  4. Social stigma, ageism, elder abuse and rights violations in older persons can lead to adverse health consequences.
  5. They increase the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, strokes and psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety, insomnia and dementia).
  6. Research shows that neglecting older people can increase loneliness, infections, falls, mechanical injuries and premature deaths.
  7. Finally, stress and isolation can impact any long-term illness, which is common in old age.

 

Existing legal provisions to safeguard the rights and health of older persons:

  • The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, is the only specific law dedicated to them.
  • In pursuance of the National Policy for Older Persons (NPOP), a National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) was constituted in 1999 under the chairpersonship of the minister for social justice and empowerment to oversee implementation of the policy and advise the government.

 

Issues with the present mechanism:

  • The paper-to-reality translation is far from smooth. Many of these acts and measures are poorly implemented with minimal awareness among service providers and users alike.
  • Recent data from the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) suggests that only one in five older people are aware of the social security and legal measures available for their benefit.
  • Besides, elder abuse is significantly under-reported due to fear of legal hassles and underlying stigma.
  • Not to mention the additional plight that older adults with memory issues and mental health problems face.

 

 

Overview of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007:

  • This Act makes it legally obliging for adult children and heirs to provide for parents by way of a monthly allowance.
  • This Act provides an inexpensive and speedy procedure to claim monthly maintenance for parents and senior citizens.
  • According to this Act, parents could mean biological, adoptive or step-parents.
  • Under this Act, there are also provisions to protect the life and property of such persons (elderly).

 

Is it mandatory for the state to set up old-age homes as per the law?

Section 19 of the law says, the State Government may establish and maintain such number of oldage homes at accessible places, as it may deem necessary, in a phased manner, beginning with at least one in each district.

  • The State Government may also, prescribe a scheme for management of oldage homes.

 

Need of the hour:

  • At the national as well as the international level, we need specific frameworks to protect the rights of older persons.
  • A UN convention can be an apt step and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) is one of the leading advocates.

 

Insta Curious:

The World Health Organization rightly observes, “population ageing is one of humanity’s greatest triumphs”. Why is it so? Read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who are Indigent senior citizens as per the act?
  2. Role of states as per the act.
  3. Other key features of the Act.
  4. Amendments proposed.

Mains Link:

Ageing has become a major social challenge. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu