Senior Citizens in India: Benefits and Facilities

Bhagwan Jamwal

Senior citizen is a common polite designation for an elderly person in both UK and US English, and it implies or means that the person is retired. This in turn usually implies or in fact means that the person is over the retirement age, which varies according country. Some dictionaries describe widespread usage of “senior citizen” for people over the age of 65. “Senior citizen” is replacing the term old-age pensioner traditionally used.

When defined in an official context, senior citizen is often used for legal or policy-related reasons in determining who is eligible for certain benefits available to the age group. It is used in general usage instead of traditional terms such as old person, old-age pensioner, or elderly as a courtesy and to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as “citizens” of society.

Qualifying age The age which qualifies for senior citizen status varies widely. In governmental contexts it is usually associated with an age at which pensions or medical benefits for the elderly become available. In India the prescribed age is 60 years.

National policy on older persons The Government of India announced a National Policy on Older Persons in January, 1999. This policy provides a broad framework for inter-sectoral collaboration and cooperation both within the government as well as between government and non-governmental agencies. In particular, the policy has identified a number of areas of intervention — financial security, healthcare and nutrition, shelter, education, welfare, protection of life and property etc. for the wellbeing of older persons in the country. Amongst others the policy also recognizes the role of the NGO sector in providing user friendly affordable services to complement the endeavours of the State in this direction.

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India has constituted ‘National Council for Older Persons’ in May 1999. The policy stipulates that State Govt. will take affirmative action to provide facilities, concessions and relief to senior citizens for improving their quality of life and to ensure that the existing public services are user friendly and sensitive to older persons. It provides a comprehensive picture of various facilities and covers many areas like financial security, health care, shelter education, welfare, protection of life and property etc. Various departments of Delhi Government have already been apprised of the same and they have initiated a number of measures/facilities for the benefit of senior citizens in Delhi.

The Senior Citizens Association, Dwarka (SCAD): The SCAD is functioning since 2003 and was registered on 14th Sep 2009. It is a NGO motivated to work for the cause of Senior Citizens as stipulated in National Policy. It is also member of Confederation of Senior Citizens Associations of Delhi (Regd), a body comprising of fifty Associations. Shri Balbir Singh Yadav, President SCAD is also General Secretary of the Confederation.

Over the short period of two and half years the SCAD has membership of twelve hundred and is actively involved in welfare particularly activities particularly Health, provision of space for Recreation, Security etc., as could be seen from the activity report attached. But much needs to be done as elderly are being abused.

Elder Abuse:According to pan-Indian surveys, 30% of elderly subject to some form of abuse. According to a rough estimate, nearly 40 % of older people living with their families are reportedly facing abuse of one kind or another, but only 1 in 6 cases actually comes to light (Helpage India website).

Studies conducted recently among old people show that over 35 per cent of the elderly in urban areas and 32 per cent in rural areas live alone.
According to HelpAge India, most elders are ill-treated by their own children, who have emerged as the largest group of perpetrators at 47.3 per cent. Spouses follow next at 19.3 per cent. Other relatives and grandchildren follow at 8.8 per cent and 8.6 per cent respectively.
Neglect is the most common form of abuse at 48.7 per cent followed by emotional/psychological, financial exploitation physical abuse and abandonment respectively.

It can be seen that Elder Abuse is very serious and Dwarka Vision has a major role to mitigate/give some relief to the unfortunate amongst us.

Office at : Flat No. 9, DDA Pocket- 1, Sector- 23, Dwarka, New Delhi – 110077