It is the fundamental obligation of the State in terms of Article 41 of our Constitution to provide assistance to the aged and pension benefits to the employees after their retirement by their employers.
The year of the aged (1990) though celebrated in our country with great pomp and show, our government has done precious little for the upliftment of the status of the aged community.
The determination of old age is naturally linked with the average life expectancy. The United Nations had adopted International Plan of Action at the World Assembly of Aging at Vienna during 1982.
According to UN projections, in the year 2025 a projected 1.2 billion elderly people will be living in the world; 71% of them are likely to be in developing regions.
2. Welfare Programmes for the Aged Old Age Homes
The old-age home is a residential unit for at least 25 poor destitute aged persons of 60 years and above. Aged persons coming from lower-income groups and middle- income groups of society, in desperate need for shelter, can also be considered for admission in these Homes, subject to thorough inquiry and discretion of the voluntary organizations concerned.
Day Care Centres for the Aged
Assistance to voluntary organizations is given for maintenance of day-care centres for at least 50 persons in urban/slum/rural/tribal areas. The aim of these programmes is to keep the aged integrated with their respective families and to supplement the activities of family in looking after the needs of the aged.
Mobile Medicare Services for the Aged
Under this programme, grant is provided to voluntary organizations, which have experience and expertise in providing medicare services to the aged in rural/urban/ slum/areas.
Non Institutional Services for the Aged
Under this programme, a social worker is appointed to provide for services to the aged like legal counselling assistance for supplying pension, GPF, HRA, Income Tax, Bank Services etc.
The scheme of assistance to Panchayati Raj institutions/voluntary organizations for construction of Old Age Homes was launched during 1996-97.
International Year of Older Person
1999 is being observed as the International year of the older persons. The population of older persons 60+ in India ranks the fourth largest in the world and by the end of the present century; it will be second only to China.
3. Categories of the Aged
The aged can be divided into two categories : (i) those who have retired on attaining the age of superannuation from the government or organized sector and are entitled to pensionary benefits and (ii) those who have reached the age of 60+ and are drawing public assistance in their old age for their” survival.
Article 309 of the Constitution stipulates that Acts of the appropriate Legislature may regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services in connection with the affairs of the Union or any States.
The benefits available to government servants at the time of their retirement/superannuation are the pension and is governed by Central Civil Services (Pension) Rule 1952 Scheme (for non-industrial staff except railways) and the contributory Provident Fund Scheme (for industrial staff and is governed by the Contributory Fund (India) Rules, 1962)
4. Voluntary Organizations for the Welfare of the Aged
(a) Help Age India
It was established in 1978 for the cause and care of the elderly people with its head office in New Delhi. It sometimes uses the services of NSS volunteers for events like painting competition, debates etc. and collection of funds to provide facilities to the elders. “Adopt a Granny” scheme is intended to provide rehabilitation at the doorsteps to the elders living under poverty line.
(b) Age care India
It is a premier national voluntary organization – for the welfare of the aged people in the country registered on 18th November 1980 as non-political, non-profit, secular, charitable, educational, cultural and social welfare organization under the Societies Registration number XXI of 1860.
It has four types of membership viz. (a) founder members; (b) life-members; (c) associate members; (d) temporary members.
It has been celebrating Elder Day on 18th November every year since “1981 to honour senior citizens above 80 years of age, to give them social recognition and respect.
5. Government Schemes for the Aged
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing a Central Scheme of Assistance for the programmes relating to the aged from November 1992. Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to voluntary organizations for establishing and maintaining of day-care centres, old-age homes, and mobile-Medicare units as well as for supporting and strengthening non-institutional services for the aged.
6. Five-Year Plan and the Aged People
Programmes for the Elderly will be taken up in the IX-Plan to ensure well-being and continued participation in the community. Efforts will be made to reach/disseminate information regarding various welfare measures and special concessions being extended to the ‘Senior Citizens’, so that the rural elderly can also come forward to enjoy these privileges along with their urban counterparts.
In extending housing facilities, the concept of ‘Sheltered Homes’ for the lonely /destitute Elderly will be explored with the help of private and public agencies as well as the NGOs. Protection will be provided against the dangers of life and property; abuse and exploitation of older persons.