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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS: The future of old times in India

 Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Elderly population in India, Schemes for old age people etc
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Schemes for vulnerable sections of society and performance and issues associated with these schemes etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The share of the elderly (persons aged 60 years and above) in India’s population, close to 9% in 2011, is growing fast and may reach 18% by 2036 according to the National Commission on Population.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Elderly Population:

  • The National Elderly Policy defines people in the 60+ age group as elderly.
  • According to the Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons in India.

 

Background:

  • Life expectancy: It has more than doubled since Independence from around 32 years in the late 1940s to 70 years.
  • Fertility rate: It has crashed from about six children per woman to just two.

 

Problems associated with old age:

  • Social: The traditional values and institutions are in the process of erosion and adaptation.
  • Financial: Retirement and dependence of elderly on their child for basic necessity.
  • Health:
    • Multiple disabilities among the elders in old age.
    • Among persons aged 60 and above, 30% to 50% (depending on gender and age group) had symptoms that make them likely to be

 

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):

  • It aims to provide financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
  • The NSAP is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Ministry of Rural Development.

 

Issues Involved with NSAP:

  • BPL only: Restricted to below poverty line(BPL) families, based on outdated and unreliable BPL lists.
  • Central contribution to old-age pensions: It has stagnated at a tiny ₹200 per month since 2006, with a slightly higher but still paltry amount (₹300 per month) for widows.

 

Issues with targeting of schemes:

  • Errors: Huge exclusion errors in the BPL lists.
  • Household targeting: Targeting tends to be based on household rather than individual indicators.
  • Complicated formalities: It tends to involve complicated formalities such as the submission of BPL certificates and other documents.

 

Initiatives by government for elderly:

 

 

Way Forward

  • Quality life: If India is to ensure a decent quality of life for the elderly in the near future, planning and providing for it must begin today.
  • Protection from destitution: The first step towards a dignified life for the elderly is to protect them from destitution and all the deprivations that may come with it.
    • That is why old-age pensions are a vital part of social security systems around the world.
  • Exclusion criteria: A better approach is to consider all widows and elderly or disabled persons as eligible, subject to simple and transparent “exclusion criteria”.
  • Eligibility can even be self-declared: With the burden of time-bound verification being placed on the local administration or gram panchayat.
  • Take examples from southern States and India’s poorer States (such as Odisha and Rajasthan): They have near-universal social security pensions.
    • It would be much easier for all States to do the same if the central government were to revamp the NSAP.
  • Critical area of research, policy and action for the near future: They also need other support and facilities such as health care, disability aids, assistance with daily tasks, recreation opportunities and a good social life.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. Performance of welfare schemes that are implemented for vulnerable sections is not so effective due to the absence of their awareness and active involvement at all stages of the policy process – Discuss.(UPSC 2019)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)