The Elderly: Universal paradox of walking in haste into twilight years

HelpAge India brings light into the lives of the elders.(photo:IANSLIFE)
By the end of the century, the elderly will constitute over 36 per cent of India's total population. Photo: IANS

A new UNFPA report said that the elderly population in India is expanding at an unprecedented rate and could surpass the children's population by mid-century. At the national level, the share of the elderly (those above 60 years) population is projected to increase from 10.1 per cent in 2021 to 15 per cent in 2036 and to 20.8 per cent of the population in 2050, according to the UNFPA's India Ageing Report 2023.

By the end of the century, the elderly will constitute over 36 per cent of the total population of the country. Sharp growth in the elderly population is observed from 2010 onwards along with a decline in the age group of below 15 years, indicating rapidity of ageing in India, the report said.

The report dissects India’s policies, various institutional mechanisms that are available for addressing the needs of the elderly, and highlights community efforts, and examines corporate social responsibility initiatives.

The analysis is based on the latest data from the Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI) 2017-2018 and presents the reach and utilisation of social security schemes, access to programmes for older persons with disabilities, access to healthcare facilities and health insurance for the elderly.

Being financially secure is one of the most important aspects in the run-up to the old age. There are a number of government schemes, which can ensure some financial support in the twilight years. Two of the most common schemes are:

Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana

The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) is a pension scheme exclusively for senior citizens aged 60 years and above. The scheme can be purchased by payment of a lump sum price. The maximum investment limit under this scheme is Rs 15 lakh per senior citizen.

It gives a guaranteed pension payout at a specified rate for 10 years. The scheme provides an assured return of 7.4 per cent per annum which will be payable monthly for the entire duration of 10 years.


Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) was launched in 2015 and is open to all savings bank, and post office savings bank account holders in the age group of 18 to 40 years and the contributions differ, based on the pension amount chosen. The subscribers to the APY will receive a minimum monthly pension of between Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 per month. The scheme is to establish a universal social security system for all Indians, particularly the poor, the underprivileged, and those working in the unorganised sector.

There are several other big and small schemes too which can be availed of from the government and other financial institutions.

Meanwhile, the growing number of old age homes and the dismal state of elderly people living alone in homes when their children are pursuing better prospects in distant lands point to a bleak future for the aged who had once contributed immensely to the future of society.

October 1 is observed as the International Day of Older Persons established by the United Nations General Assembly and is an occasion that recognizes the invaluable contributions of senior citizens while shedding light on the unique challenges they face.

This year, the 33rd commemoration of this day revolves around the theme of 'Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations'.

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