Q. About one-fifth of India’s total population will be aged (60+) by 2050. In this context, discuss how the elderly can be transformed into active participants in the Indian economy.17 Feb, 2022 GS Paper 2 Social Justice
- Start with issues faced by the elderly population in India.
- Discuss the steps to transform elderly into active participants in the Indian economy.
- Conclude suitably.
With improved health care services and nutrition related awareness, Life expectancy is on the rise in India. And thus the percentage of elderly is increasing steadily.
Challenges to Upliftment of the Elderly
- Changing Healthcare Needs: The challenge is to provide a range of quality, affordable, and accessible health and care services to the elderly.
- Low HAQ Score of India: As per the 2016 Healthcare Access and Quality Index, India (at 41.2) is still significantly below the global average of 54 points, ranking 145 out of 195 countries.
- Social Issues: Factors such as familial neglect, low education levels, socio-cultural beliefs and stigma, low trust on institutionalised health-care services etc. exacerbate the situation for the elders.
- Vicious Cycle of Health, Economy and Unproductivity: The vicious cycle of poor health and unaffordable health costs is further accelerated by their inability to earn a livelihood.
- As a result, not only are they economically unproductive but it also adds to their mental and emotional problems.
- Health Related ‘Elderly-First’ Approach: In the Covid-19 vaccination strategy, the seniors-first approach led to over 73% of elderly population receiving at least one dose and around 40% being doubly vaccinated by October 2021.
- Considering the demographic trends, India should reimagine its entire health-care policy for the next few decades, with an elderly prioritised approach.
- Role of Government: India needs to rapidly increase its public health-care spending, and invest heavily in the creation of well-equipped and staffed medical care facilities and home health-care and rehabilitation services.
- Socio-Economic Inclusion of Elderly: Similar to countries like in Europe which have small communities to take care of the elderly and provide them related facilities, India can build such a type of youth army to help elderly in the far away areas.
- Special Focus on Elderly Women: Elderly women in particular shall be specifically looked after in the context of socio-economic upliftment, as the longevity for women is much longer than men.
- Inaccessibility of opportunities to elderly women will make them dependent on others, exposing their survival to several vulnerabilities.
Proof of a truly developed country lies in the way it not only nurtures its young but also cares for its elders, equally. Certain essential steps must be taken to convert elders into a massive resource for socio-cultural and economic development, giving an altogether different perspective to “demographic dividend”.
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