India’s Ageing Population

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    Syllabus: GS 2/Human Resources 

    • Article unveils critical Insights into Elderly Care in India.
    • The world’s population is living longer and growing older. 
    • Embracing and planning for this massive demographic transition is one of the greatest social challenges of the 21st century.
    • India is moving towards a future where the elderly will make up a significant proportion of society, primarily due to advances in health care and increased life expectancy.
    • The current elderly population of 153 million (aged 60 and above) is expected to reach a staggering 347 million by 2050. 
    • According to Census 2011, India has 104 million older people (60+years), constituting 8.6% of total population.
      • Amongst the elderly (60+), females outnumber males.
    • Social-cultural mindsets and norms that label the elderly as a “burden”, elderly abuse, as well as a lack of comprehensive safety nets increase the vulnerability of older individuals manifold.
    • Households with smaller families and a growing number of older people, who may suffer from chronic illness
    • Care for seniors at home is a growing concern as it oscillates between social care and health care.
      • Care practices at home are not well-defined and standardised.
      •  There are no specific grievance redressal mechanisms for either the users or the caregivers.
    • Impact on women  : Poverty is inherently gendered in old age when older women are more likely to be widowed, living alone, with no income and with fewer assets of their own, and fully dependent on family for support.
    • The ageing population could turn out to mean serious economic trouble unless India manages to grow its economy at a rapid pace in the coming decades.
    • the Government of India has made positive strides with its forward looking and inclusive policies, programmes, and schemes such as the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE),
      • the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), the Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and the (Amendment) Bill, Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana’ (AVYAY), and Elderline–a national helpline, among others. 
      • It was also a frontrunner in addressing the concerns of the elderly through its National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) in 1999, three years before the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPPA).
      • The National Programme for Health Care of Elderly and Health and Wellness Centres under the Ayushman Bharat programme provide dedicated healthcare to elderly at primary health care settings.
    • India still stands at a pivotal crossroads– facing an ageing population that demands a comprehensive framework of care, new institutions, services, and support dedicated to the evolving needs of the elderly
    • As India ages, it is imperative to ensure that elderly population has access to the care and support they need to live healthy, dignified, and fulfilling lives.
    • India can redefine the narrative from one of demographic challenge to demographic resilience, inclusivity and growth.
      •  To achieve this, India must chart a transformative multi-pronged path with supportive institutions such as the private sector, academia, civil society 
    • There is a need for a comprehensive policy on home-based care, incorporating aspects such as a registry of providers of such services; ensuring transparency and accountability; establishing grievance redressal mechanisms; and insurance coverage, among others.
      • The policy should particularly cater to the more vulnerable and dependent older single women so that they can live respectable and independent lives.
    • This is precisely the right moment for India to not only focus on reaping the benefits of Demographic Dividend through its hefty youth population but to also embrace the concept of “Silver Dividend”. 
    • To achieve this, India must chart a transformative multi-pronged path with supportive institutions such as the private sector, academia, civil society, media
    Mains Practice Question 
    [Q] Discuss consequences of aging population. Should India worry about its ageing population? What India needs to do to support the aging population?