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Policies that facilitate the elderly

National policy on older persons

The Government of India announced a National Policy on Older Persons in January, 1999. This policy provides a broad framework for inter-sectoral collaboration and cooperation both within the government as well as between government and non-governmental agencies. In particular, the policy has identified a number of areas of intervention -- financial security, healthcare and nutrition, shelter, education, welfare, protection of life and property etc. for the well being of older persons in the country. Amongst others the policy also recognizes the role of the NGO sector in providing user friendly affordable services to complement the endeavours of the State in this direction.

While recognizing the need for promoting productive ageing, the policy also emphasizes the importance of family in providing vital non formal social security for older persons. To facilitate implementation of the policy, the participation of Panchayati Raj Institutions, State Governments and different Departments of the Government of India is envisaged with coordinating responsibility resting with the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

National Council for Older Persons

A National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) has been constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to operationalise the National Policy on Older Persons. The basic objectives of the NCOP are to

  • Advice the Government on policies and programmes for older persons

  • Provide feedback to the Government on the implementation of the National Policy on Older Persons as well as on specific programme initiatives for older persons

  • Advocate the best interests of older persons

  • Provide a nodal point at the national level for redressing the grievances of older persons which are of an individual nature

  • Provide lobby for concessions, rebates and discounts for older persons both with the Government as well as with the corporate sector

  • Represent the collective opinion of older persons to the Government

  • Suggest steps to make old age productive and interesting

  • Suggest measures to enhance the quality of inter-generational relationships.

  • Undertake any other work or activity in the best interest of older persons.

There are 39 members in the council. A seven-member working group has also been constituted from amongst the members of NCOP. The Working Group has so far held two meetings to discuss ways and means to achieve its objectives.

Old age and income security

The Ministry has also launched a project called "Old Age Social and Income Security (OASIS)". An Expert Committee is constituted under the project. The first reports of the Committee and the existing income security instruments available to older persons have been comprehensively examined. The report also contains detailed recommendations for enhancing the coverage, improving the rate of returns and for bringing about a qualitative improvement in the customer service of Public Provident Fund, the Employees Provident Fund, the Annuity Plans of LIC, and UTI etc.

The recommendations of the Committee are being examined by the Ministry of Finance for further action. Meanwhile, Phase II of the project is looking at the pension and gratuity schemes of the central government and old age pension provided under National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP). At the core of the second phase of project OASIS, however, lies the designing of a new, fully funded, contributory pension programme for the balance (uncovered) workersincluding casual/contract workers, self-employed, farmers etc.

Revision of the schemes of the Ministry

In order to facilitate implementation of the National Policy, and to bring about a qualitative improvement in the programme intervention of the Ministry, both the on-going schemes were revised during 1998-99.

Scheme of assistance to Panchayati Raj Institutions/Voluntary Organizations/Self Help Groups for construction of old age homes/multi service centres for older persons. The scheme has been revised to enhance the one time construction grant for old age homes/multi service centres from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 30 lakh to eligible organizations.

An integrated programme for older persons has been formulated by revising the earlier scheme of Assistance to Voluntary Organizations for programmes relating to the welfare of the aged. With the aim to empower and improve the quality of older persons, the programmes hope to:

  • Reinforce and strengthen the ability and commitment of the family to provide care to older persons.

  • Foster amiable multi-generational relationships.

  • Generate greater awareness on issues pertaining to older persons and enhanced measures to address these issues.

  • Popularize the concept of Life Long Preparation for Old Age at the individual level as well as at the societal level.

  • Facilitate productive ageing.

  • Promote healthcare, Housing and Income Security needs of older persons.

  • Provide care to the destitute elderly.

  • Strengthen capabilities on issues pertaining to older persons of local bodies/state governments, NGOs and academic/research and other institutions.

Strategy

Developing awareness and providing support to build the capacity of government, NGOs and the community at large to make productive use of older persons and to provide care to older persons in need; Sensitizing children and youth towards older persons; reinforcing the Indian family tradition of providing special care and attention to older persons and organising older persons themselves into coherent self help groups capable of articulating their rights and interests.

Under this scheme financial assistance up to 90 per cent of the project cost is provided to NGOs for establishing and maintaining old age homes, day care centres, and mobile medicare units and for providing non institutional services to older persons.

(Letter No. 20-32/99-NGO (SD) dated 22nd June, 1999, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India)