Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

An Ageing India: The Magnitude and the Multitude 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Magnitude and Multiplication of aged population

Why in the News?

The phenomenon of ageing stands out as one of the most significant developments of this century, characterized by notable advancements in human longevity alongside historically low reproduction rates.

About the Magnitude and Multiplication of the aged population

  • The magnitude of Aging Population: The 21st century is witnessing a significant demographic shift marked by a notable increase in human longevity.
    • Improved healthcare and living conditions have contributed to a rise in life expectancy, leading to a larger elderly population. By mid-century, India is projected to have around 319 million elderly people, growing at a rate of approximately 3% annually.
  • Multiplication of Aging Phenomenon: Despite longevity gains, there is a simultaneous decline in fertility rates, leading to an ageing population with a lower proportion of younger generations.
    • This demographic shift poses challenges related to healthcare, social security, and economic sustainability. The elderly population is becoming increasingly feminized, with a higher prevalence of elderly women due to longer life expectancy and higher widowhood rates.

Aged Population as per the 2011 Census:

  • According to the 2011 Census of India, the population of people aged 60 and older in India was 104 million, which is 8.6% of the total population. This is an increase from 5.6% in 1961.
  • The census also found that 53 million of the elderly population were female and 51 million were male, with a sex ratio of 1033. 71% of the elderly population lived in rural areas and 29% lived in urban areas. Additionally, 5.18% of the elderly population, or 53,76,619 people, had some disability

Issues and Challenges

  • Vulnerabilities of the Elderly: Many elderly individuals in India face significant vulnerabilities, including limitations in activities of daily living (ADL), multi-morbidity, poverty, and lack of financial security.
    • A substantial proportion of the elderly report poor health conditions, with a high prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
    • Mental health issues, particularly depression, are also prevalent among the elderly population.
  • Social and Economic Insecurities: Food insecurity affects a notable percentage of the elderly, with reports of reduced portions or skipped meals due to economic constraints.
  • Lack of legal protection: Awareness and access to welfare measures and legal protections for the elderly are low, with limited knowledge about schemes like IGNOAPS, IGNWPS, and Annapurna.
  • Abuse and Neglect: Elder abuse is a significant concern, especially for elderly women in rural areas who often experience neglect and mistreatment within their families and communities.
    • Social exclusion and limited opportunities for productive engagement exacerbate feelings of insecurity and marginalization among the elderly.

Way Forward:

  • Enhancing Social Support and Welfare Measures: Strengthening awareness and accessibility of welfare schemes and legal protections for the elderly. Implementing social security measures to ensure financial stability and improve quality of life for ageing populations.
  • Healthcare and Mental Well-being: Prioritizing healthcare interventions tailored to the needs of the elderly, including preventive measures against chronic diseases and mental health support. Promoting healthy ageing through lifestyle interventions and healthcare policies that address the unique challenges of an ageing population.
  • Empowerment and Social Inclusion: Fostering social inclusion through community engagement and initiatives that empower the elderly to contribute actively to society. Developing innovative institutional frameworks that value the elderly as assets and promote their participation in societal development.

Mains PYQ:

Q. Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in India. (UPSC IAS/2013)

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