NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is merely doing lip-service when it comes to the welfare of senior citizens of India. In the past three financial years the government has spent just 1.23 crores for various schemes for senior citizens, even as in the year 2016-17 its budget was Rs. 7,350 crore.
This is despite the Ministry in 2016 floating a note to formulate a new national policy for the improving the living of senior citizens focusing on providing benefits of health care and accommodation to the elderly people. The present National Policy on Older Persons dates back to 1999.
The statistics uploaded on the Ministry’s website indicate that the government has not spent single penny on awareness generation for maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens, setting up of national commission for senior citizens, setting up of helpline for senior citizens at district level or at national level, creation of national trust for aged and implementation of national policy for senior citizens in the Financial Year 2016-17.
In the financial year 2015-16 as well the Ministry had the same track record as far senior citizens are concerned. The Ministry only spent Rs. 1.02 crore in the year for setting up of Helpline for Senior Citizens at a national level. In the previous financial year 2014-15 as well it spent only 0.13 crores for the setting up of the national Helpline.
The government has outsourced the welfare of senior citizens to NGOs to whom it has given Rs. 37 crores as assistance under the scheme of Integrated Programmes for Older Persons in the year 2016-17. In the year 2015-16 also it spent Rs. 27.58 crores under the head and in the year 2014-15 the amount was Rs. 14.99 crores.
As per the Report of the Technical Group on Population Projects constituted by the National Commission on Population the population of 60+ people in India is 118.10 million that is 9.30 percent of the total population. The projected population of senior citizens for the year 2021 is 143.24 million and 10.70 percent of the total population.
The profile of the elderly population shows that a majority of them are in rural areas with a feminisation of the elderly population as the number of elderly women is higher. Also, there has been an increase in the number of the older old (persons above 80 years) and about 30 percent of the elderly population is below the poverty line.