Going Grey Gracefully


India with an estimated population of 1 billion people, the second largest in the world, will have approximately 100 million people of the age of 60 and above by the turn of the century.


Millions of people in India do not have a specific retirement age. Most of these people belong to the informal sector working to providing little security against old age or unemployment.


They must work jut to survive.


Old age in India, as in many parts of both the developed and the developing countries, is compounded by social, economic, psychological and health problems.


We have no policy for the aged despite the recommendations of the World Congress on the Elderly held under the UN auspices in Vienna in the late ‘80s.


Apart from a few voluntary agencies like Helpage India and Age-Care India looking after the welfare of the elderly, the old-age assistance programmes implemented by a few state governments and the grants-in-aid provided by the Ministry of welfare for a few NGOs, no systematic policy or action plan is available.


For the first time in the country’s history, the Himachal Pradesh government  enacted a law making it obligatory for children to look after their aged parents.


Three fourth of the elderly population lives in rural areas where the slow disintegration of the joint family system and the exodus of the youngsters to the cities in search of new pastures has left lasting scars on the condition of the aged.


There could be nothing more shattering and demoralising for the aging parents than to feel that they are a burden on their children.

In most cases the old parents are left behind as the nuclear families migrate to the cities. A few of them are lucky to receive money from their children in the cities.


The plight of the aged in the middle class families is also no better. They too face social, psychological and health-oriented problems.


Creeping loneliness affects them all and they suffer from depression. Many of them suffer from a variety of physical ailments.


An integrated approach taking into account the different requirements of such people needs to be formulated since in the years to come the ageing population is likely to increase with synergic action of a rise in longevity, decline in death rate, improvement in health standards, modernisation and development.



It is the duty of the society and the country at large to take care of its senior citizens. Now since the country has become the most important emerging economy and Indians are becoming billionaires by the hour this area needs very urgent attention .


The aged should not be deprived of their basic human rights to love and security, health care and a decent living just because they become old. After all we all humans are here in this beautiful world because of our worthy parents and ancesstors .


A comprehensive study of the elderly in India, carried out by the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), a UN body, reminds the younger generation of its duties towards the aged.


The study has been part of a project involving India, China, Korea, Thailand and Singapore for preparing an action plan to deal with the multiple problems of the aged.


It has been found that while the sex ratio of 60 plus favours males in the country, females out number the males in the 70 years and above category.


Greater longevity of women needs an extensive social security system, geriatric care and setting up of more homes for the aged and putting to use their services for the well being of the country.


The silvering or greying years merit a fresh look, away from the traditional concept of a world of enforced retirement, loss of physical functions and mental capacity, accompanied  all too often by isolating the individual from the normal activities of the society.


The image of an elderly person as tottering towards the grave, battered by illness and mined by disease, beyond the capacity for loving and incapable of taking care of himself, much less rendering service to others, should go.


Recent studies on healthy individuals show that, even at seventy years of age, people can do a good day’s work, use their mind creatively and play an active role in the community.


Therefore, the stereotype image of the old as helpless and useless must be discarded .


The aged can contribute in many ways. They are great assets with experience ..In the realm of art, masterpieces by the elderly like the late Guru Kunchu Kurup in Kathakali, Rabindranath Tagore in the literary world, Amartya Sen in economics, Bhimsen Joshi in music, to mention a few, need to be appreciated.


There are innumerable fields where the elderly can render their best if they are not deliberately excluded.





Author: admin