Thursday, March 20, 2014

 20/march /2014

A note on Important aspects of the International conference on “Elder Dignity and Abuse” prepared by Dr. Sugan Bhatia

I wish to commend the very meaningful efforts of Dr. Jacob John Kattakayam, Dr. PKB Nayar and their very efficient and committed colleagues at the Centre for Gerontological Studies at Thiruvananthpuram for organizing a highly stimulating International Conference on Elder Dignity and Abuse on March 14-16, 2014. I am sharing this e-mail with you also in the belief that some of our colleagues in AISCCON – Shri DN Chapke, Shri Sugan Bhatia, Shri Haneefa Rawther, Shri Vyasamoorthy, and many friends from Thiruvananthpuram Senior Citizens’ movement – were part of this International Conference.

Dr. Jacob John Kattakayam and Dr. PKB Nayar have earned gratitude of many scholars and activists by combining, for the first time in India, the concerns of Elder Dignity and Elder Abuse as the theme of the International Conference thus giving an opportunity to participants to place elders in a positivist framework while discussing the challenges that they face in their lives. I believe that the sponsors have earned equal degree of commendation for  supporting such a thoughtful combination of concerns in the International Conference. Both the Kerala Government and the UNFPA lent their support to this effort.

Dr. Jacob John Kattakayam and Dr. PKB Nayar widened the scope of interacting scholarship in the International Conference by bringing together many distinguished and promising scholars from the field of Sociology, apart from the community of scholars and activists from the field of Psychology, Demographers, Medicine and the Senior Citizens’ movement. The concerned community of scholars in the area of ageing appears to be growing both in India and in the Asian region. The delegates from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan brought in their cultural perspectives to this rapidly maturing field of scholarship. One can only hope that the active association and support of political and development management elites will continue to influence the policy and progamme environment both in India and in the Asian countries. The very meaningful participation of the corporate sector – through a stimulating paper from the Managing Director of the Malabar Cements – brought in a much-awaited partner in the effort.

The subject of elder dignity should receive significant support from measures that help enhance individual resilience to combatting any assaults on the elderly both through psychological, and tactical efforts gained through networking with individuals and organizations in their proximity, as also through entitlements facilitated by governance mechanisms instituted at the local, community, region and national efforts in each South Asian country. Senior Citizens look forward to a period when entitlements like Health, Shelter Pensions, and Food will be upgraded to the status of Fundamental Rights; the Supreme Court of India support for such provisions, for example, has supported the urgency of such an action on the part of any government in power.

Elder Dignity should also receive conscious effort at the level of the Family to create an enabling environment for senior citizens to live in such environments with their existence duly recognized. The essential steps to such support should be seen in terms of measures that help enhanceself-esteem – e.g. active participation in family life, promoting self-dependence, encouraging control of their own resources, generosity of the other family members in being tolerant and patient towards their somewhat slow movements, etc   At the same time, the elders also need to tone down the volume of complaints, if any, and allowing other members of their families to enjoy their own lives. The family could encourage, for example, larger networking efforts for the senior citizens with their peer group both in family and community environments.

The next in line of the supporting environments are a series of actions at the level of the Institutions – e.g. Old Age Homes, Day Care Centres, Respite Care Centres, Local Markets as friendly interacting agents with the senior citizens, elder friendly public spaces, health and other functionaries at the grassroots level, media, police authorities with their commitment to community policing, corporate sector with their support to innovative and caring projects for the senior citizens, etc.

While the immediate and larger community should continue to create enabling and supporting environments for the senior citizens, elderly dignity will be enhanced, and consequently elderly abuse minimized, by pro-active engagement of the elderly themselves through both self-guarding strategies and through active engagement in the market in the area of financial transactions. The muted practice of gerontocide in some communities served as an eye-opener in the international conference. Special sensitivities need to be built in for providing support to those segments of the elderly population particularly among the elderly widows, differently abled and the transgender community.

It was good to hear voices in support of larger companionship and life-partner-search arrangements mounted by some senior citizens’ supporters. However, an issue that needs wider debate in the country and the South Asian region is the question of mandatory reporting of elder abuse at the individual, family and community levels. In a cultural climate that supports largely oral culture transactions, more so in the South Asian Community, written culture arrangements, such as the ones represented by the Police and Law Enforcement Authorities, could target the poorer segments and penalize them heavily; the fear of the institution of family could be under tremendous pressure under such environments. One should consider, instead, the rapidly emerging enabling legal provision of Conciliation and Counselling at the family, clan and community level to achieve the goal of reducing elder abuse.

Sugan Bhatia
98112 25103
                                                                                                    auther prabhakar chhatre
 20/march /2014
Letter to National Political Parties

                                                                                                5th March, 2014
Hon’ble Shri Rajnath Singh
Bharatiya Janata Party, India

Sub : Request to include Senior Citizens’ as a Constituency
          in your Political Manifesto –


India has nearly 10 per cent population of Senior Citizens in its more than 121 crore of total population. All of them constitute active voters insofar as they are the most regular and first at the post of the voting constituents at the time of any election. They thus represent a class of voters who participate in the democratic process most actively and diligently. Most of them are aware of the significance that various political parties attach to the development concerns of the country in general and of the senior citizens in particular.

All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation takes this opportunity to appreciate your efforts at being a very strong advocate for the cause of the senior citizens’ movement all over the country. We are deeply conscious of
the very meaningful role that you play in sensitizing the community and influencing public opinion in being the voice of senior citizens. You have promoted greater empathy in the Indian family about the need to take all steps to facilitate inter-generational solidarity and bonding within the family, encourage the family to strengthen practices that facilitate ageing-in-place, and share some very meaningful roles for the senior citizen members in their families.

All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation would like you to articulate strong commitment to the following priority areas in the senior citizens movement in India:

(i)              integrate a “rights perspective” outlined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India detailing the Right to Life (through Amendment to the Constitution of India as Article 21-B) with dignity to the challenges concerning the senior citizens along with the “welfare perspective” outlined in Article 41 of the Constitution of India. This is
in consonance with various Supreme Court judgements that have enunciated a rights perspective in regard to right to health, shelter and pensions. The rights perspective is also part of our commitment to various International Conventions, Covenants and Declarations to which India is a signatory and hence a party to such commitments and resolve.

(ii)           promote a National Policy on Senior Citizens and respective State level Policy on Senior Citizens in the spirit of our Federal Constitution with the Central Policy promoting Leadership in Ideas, Personnel and Programmes and the State Policies promoting a policy framework unique to the population of each State and providing for all services through liberal Central Grants and through their own resources.

(iii)      strengthen the formation and growth of senior citizens’ organizations in tribal, rural and urban areas, both for female and male senior citizens. We believe that assumption of group identity by senior citizens in all places helps to project their common challenges in personal, family, community, regional and national life.                                                                                                                      

(iv)     support need for physical and social infrastructure for senior citizens in their own homes, habitats in the community and in the local worshipping places, markets and other places that they frequent during their daily life. They thus need home modification practices within the family home to make the bathroom safe, the bedroom comfortable and the dining room/family courtyard hospitable to their presence. They want public places that they most commonly frequent age-friendly with minimum or no barriers; they want places in public entertainment to create some space which is a little less noisy and permitting peer group and inter-generational dialogue. They also want Senior Citizens’ Associations and Residents’ Welfare Association to work for their health, well-being and safety and security.

(v)     discourage dispossession, destitution and abandonment of senior citizens in the name of religion, belief in phases of life that lead to abandonment, or forced shelter in Old Age Homes and Senior Citizens’ Ashrams. If the Indian Family needs support in the form of Geriatric Education and Awareness, social protection in the form of Pensions linked to cost-of-living with a minimum of Rs. 2,000/- per month, tax free  Pension to employees in the organised sector, facilitated diagnosis of their health problems at the Day Care Centres, organized facilities for diagnosis and treatment of Dementia/Alzheimer’s at the Day Care Centres, Respite Care at the Day Care Centres, full and part subsidy in group health care insurance, enhanced concessions in taxation policies, reverse mortgage facilities to those owning any kind of property, their organized Associations, the Corporate Sector and the State Agencies, both in the State Governments and the Central Government should find resources to support such programmes. The senior citizens who face destitution and abandonment, particularly women abandoned by their own husbands and other family members and left alone to carry the responsibility of nurturing their families, deserve support from the community, the corporate sector and the various Government Agencies to provide adequate shelter and survival with dignity facilities.

(vi)        introduce universal introduction of the National Programme of Health Care for the Elderly (NPHCE) so as to overcome the inability of the General Health Care Programme in the public sector to take care of the health needs of the older population. We all would like to see an early introduction and implementation of the Home Health Care facility to senior citizens who cannot access the local dispensary, clinic or hospital; we also want the assisted transport support to those who are in a position to visit such institutions.

(vii)      Plan an early introduction of the National Mental Health Prorgramme with early diagnosis of Dementia, practice of social therapies for Dementia Care, and establishing Dementia Care facilities at the level of the Day Care Centres, apart from the other dedicated institutions. In fact, there is need to expand diagnosis and treatment facilities for health challenges faced by senior citizens in the form of Mobility Deficit, Cognitive Deficit, and Visual Deficit.                                                                                                                        

(viii)   We plead with you to work for the establishment of a National Commission for Senior Citizens at the Central level and State Commissions for Senior Citizens at the State level as a Constitutionally mandated grievance redressal mechanism with senior citizens as important stakeholders both at the level of the Membership of the Commissions and their intended beneficiaries .

(ix)   We urge you to support the speedier implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Act, 2007 through measures that aim to create wider awareness concerning the legislation and its implementation. We would like you to demand a progress report both from the Centre and the States in regard to the steps taken to enforce this law universally.

(x)     We would like you to support the creation of a separate Ministry of Senior Citizens both at the level of the Centre and the States so that the legitimate aspirations of more than 12 crore senior citizens are accorded due attention. Such mechanisms should work towards developing a larger and more comprehensive programme base, including Day Centres at the Municipal/Panchayat Ward level supporting education, awareness, diagnostic health services and Respite Care programmes at that level, shelter for the destitute and abandoned senior citizens, etc. 

(xi)       Pledge by senior citizens to commit themselves, on their part, to work for a senior citizens’ movement that offers its mentoring services to the younger segments of the Indian population to find remunerative occupations, utilize their energies in the better implementation of welfare laws in the country, and join in a strong and vibrant citizenship movement in a democratic society. The organization also commits itself to more vibrant and active participation of the senior citizens in the democratic process;  assure the country that the senior citizens would be the first to reach the polling booths as part of their celebration of the democratic process and as an expression of strong and serious concern for better governance mechanisms.

We are aware that your Party has, as part of its Political Manifesto, taken considerable interest in the rights and welfare of  various vulnerable groups of our population in general, and of senior citizens in particular. We would like to share the above concerns, all the same, with you in the hope that you would accord a measure of priority to incorporating the needs of senior citizens in your Political Manifesto:

Thanking you,

                                                            Yours truly,

D.N. Chapke, President, Navi Mumbai (M) 09820021224
Dr. Sugan Bhatia, Senior Vice President, New Delhi (M) 09811225103;
B.B. Dixit, Vice President, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh(M) 09451937991;
Daljit Singh Grewal, Vice President, Chandigarh (M) 09855153203;
Krupasindhu Sahu, Vice President, Bhubaneswar, Odisha   (M) 09437001251;
Narayan N. Ingle, Vice President, Akola, Maharashtra   (M) 09822717199;
PrabhakarS. Kulkarni, Vice President, Karnataka,(M) 09845257990) ;
Haneefa Rawther, Vice President, Kerala (M) 09446362105;
D. Rajasekaran. Vice President, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (M) 009444368077
Dr. Mrs. Alka Vyas. Vice President, Pune, Maharashtra (M) 098502 77590
Indravadan Desai, Vice President, Gujarat (M) 093770 00066
Anil P. Kaskhedikar, Secretary General, Mumbai, Maharashtra (M) 09969128678
Om Prakash Hingar, Organizing Secretary, Rajasthan (M) 09829046901
Dr. S.P. Kinjawadekar, Advisor, Navi Mumbai (M) 098206 39773

 auther prabhakar chhatre


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