From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : government schemes
Mains level : social welfare
India will be facing the immediate challenge –The ageing of the population. Challenge to ensure a decent quality of life for the old age people in the near future, planning and providing for it must begin today.
- Life expectancy in India has more than doubled since Independence from around 32 years in the late 1940s to 70 years or so today, a historical achievement.
- Over the same period, the fertility rate has crashed from about six children per woman to just two, which liberated women from the cycle of continuous child bearing and child care.
What is ageing of the population?
- Meaning: Population ageing is a shift in the distribution of a country’s population towards older ages.
- Reason behind it: Decline in the fertility rate and Rise In the life expectancy. An increase in longevity increases the average age of the population by increasing the numbers of surviving older people.
- Impact of the ageing population:, labor supply shortage, change in patterns of saving and investment, deteriorate fiscal balance, lack of adequate welfare system etc.
- Challenges they impose: Social security, elderly Healthcare, Dependence on the family etc.
What is the status in India?
- According to the National Commission on Population, The share of the elderly (persons aged 60 years and above) close to 9% in 2011.
- It is growing fast and may reach 18% by 2036.
- Depression: According to survey by Abdul Latif Jameel foundation in Tamilnadu, 30-50% of people above age of 60 has a symptoms of depression.The proportion with depression symptoms is much higher for women than men, and rises sharply with age. In most cases, depression remains undiagnosed and untreated.
- Loneliness: Loneliness one the major factor leading to depression. A large majority of elderly persons living alone are women, mainly widows.
- Hardship of age: Monetary assistance can certainly help to cope with many health issues.
- Poverty and poor health: Old age pensions are vital. Cash helps to lead a dignified life.
Current government schemes for elderly
Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Scheme – This is one of the most popular senior citizen pension schemes in India.
- Designed for senior citizens above 60 years of age, the policy term of this Prime Minister Senior Citizen Scheme extends to ten years.
- The pensioner can choose the frequency of the payment – monthly/quarterly/half- yearly/annually.
- You can earn interest of 8% per annum over this scheme.
- The minimum and maximum capping of pension are Rs. 3,000 per month and 10,000 per month, respectively
National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE)–
- Introduced in 2010, this scheme concentrates on preventive as well as promotive, care for the maintenance of overall health.
- This program was launched to address the health issues faced by seniors.
- The district-level objectives include providing dedicated health facilities in district hospitals, community health centres (CHC), primary health centres (PHC), and sub-centres (SC) levels through State Health Society.
- These facilities maybe free or highly subsidized.
Varishta Mediclaim Policy –
- This policy aids seniors by covering the cost of medicines, blood, ambulance charges, and other diagnosis related charges.
- Designed for senior citizens between the age of 60 and 80 years, this helps meet the health-related expenses of senior citizens.
- Income tax benefits are allowed for payment of premium.
- Although the policy period is for one year, you can extend the renewal up to the age of 90 years.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana –
- This scheme provides physical aids and assisted-living devices to the elderly above 60 years of age that belong to the BPL (below the poverty line) category.
- If senior citizens wish to avail this, then they must have a BPL card.
- This is a Central Sector Scheme and is entirely funded by the Central Government.
Varishta Pension Bima Yojana –
- This pension scheme, launched by the Ministry of Finance, is for senior citizens above 60 years.
- The LIC of India has the authority to operate this scheme.
- Any Medical check-ups is not necessary to avail this policy.
- It offers assured pension with a guaranteed interest rate of 8% per annum for up to 10 years –
- You can opt for monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly pension – depends on how you’d like to receive it.
Vayoshreshtha Samman –
This scheme focuses on those seniors who have made significant contributions in their disciplines and recognized their efforts.
It was upgraded to the National Award in 2013, and since then, awards have been granted below thirteen categories.
- Social security pensions, of course, are just the first step towards a dignified life for the elderly. They also need other support and facilities such as health care, disability aids and assistance with daily tasks, recreation opportunities and a good social life. They can be the active contributor to the economy having the years of experience and mentorship to the demographic dividend.
Mains Question Q.
Discuss the challenges before our elderly today? What steps have been taken by government to address these challenges?