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04-29-2011, 09:39 AM
Post: #1
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National Policy on Senior Citizens 2011
Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment,
Government of India


The National Policy on Older Persons was announced by the Government of India in the year 1999. It was a step in the right direction in pursuance of the UN General Assembly Resolution 47/5 to observe 1999 as International Year of Older Persons and in keeping with the assurances to older persons contained in the Constitution of India. The Right to Equality for all citizens is guaranteed by the Constitution of India as a fundamental right. The well-being of senior citizens is mandated in the Constitution of India under Article 41. "The state shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to public assistance in cases of old age". Social security in the event of any citizen/s facing vulnerability is the concurrent responsibility of both the central and state governments.

The 1999 Declaration has been followed by some very significant global developments in the area of welfare and development rights of the older persons; these include The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002, the United Nations Principles for Senior Citizens adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2002, the Proclamation on Ageing, the global targets on ageing for the Year 2001 adopted by the General Assembly in 1992, the Shanghai Plan of Action 2002 and the Macau Outcome document 2007 adopted by UNESCAP, etc. These and other global policy guidelines were intended to encourage Member-States to design and implement their own policies and programmes from time to time. The Government of India is a signatory to all these global articulations concerning older persons.

The Policy and plans were put in place as a recognition of the stellar role played by both the Family as a traditionally cherished social institution with its reverence towards their older members and by the continuing mentoring roles played by the older persons themselves within their respective families; their traditional roles have been both of active engagement with the family when needed and faith in social and spiritual engagement outside the family in view of their old age. The older persons have, by and large, created adequate space for their younger members to take up the task of re-shaping or strengthening the quality of life in the family.

The Central and some State governments formulated the Policy and Programmes concerning older persons in the context of the above stated recognition; governance systems stepped in to either remedy the constraints faced by the family, neighbourhood and community or supplement through programmes and resources to fill the void left by the family for both the welfare rights and the development rights of older persons within the framework so capably articulated in the Constitution of India.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment coordinates programmes to be undertaken by other Ministries in their relevant areas of support to older persons. The Ministries of Rural Development, Health & Family Welfare, Labour, Human Resource Development, Women & Child Development, Science & Technology, Urban Development, etc. manage programmes with resources relevant to their mandate and constituencies. The MP Local Area Development Fund and the MLA Local Area Development Fund are being utilized for creation of physical and social infrastructure for older persons in their respective Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies. State Governments have launched programmes with their resources, apart from utilizing and managing Central programmes. Municipalities and Zila Panchayats have also begun to develop programmes with resources in support of the welfare rights and development rights of older persons.
Old Age and Widow Pensions, relief in income tax, concessions in travel by rail, road and air, medical benefits, additional interest on savings,initiatives for protection of life and property of older persons, etc. could easily be cited as some of the significant measures in this regard. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been providing financial support for Old Age Homes, Day Care Centres, Respite Care Centres, Mobile Medical Vans, HelpLines, etc.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment also piloted landmark legislation called "The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007" which is being promulgated by the States and Union Territories in stages.

It needs to be noted that the Family, Neighbourhood, Community, the Civil Society, and philanthropy-led initiatives by the Corporate Sector and Individuals in India have traditionally continued to remain the largest resource providers for supporting the welfare and development of the Senior Citizens inIndia. Many religious and social institutions have periodically organized food security initiatives for the vulnerable persons, including older persons; some of these initiatives have also been aimed at ensuring shelter security and support for subsistence living.

Families that perform their dharma by upholding the values of intergenerational solidarity and ensure participation of their older members in all activities constitute, in fact, the silent majority. Some scholars believe that such families remain unsung. Families that are unable or do not uphold thedharma are an exception to the large majority. There have been some fissures within the Family as a social institution in regard to striking a balance between the rights of its older members and the demands and aspirations of its younger members; in some cases, such fissures within the family have led to cases of dispossession and abandonment of the older members, consequently leading to a state of destitution. The older persons have worked out their own strategies in such environments characterized by some degree of neglect, abuse and violence; these strategies have comprised formation of peer groups or associations aimed at ensuring active participation, recreation and citizenship.

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