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Rights of Elderly

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Riswana Mahamood 703 7th Semester NUALS

I would like to thank my Teacher Smt Liji Samuel, for providing me with an opportunity to do research and submit a project, the college authorities for the Library without which I wouldn’t have been able to get an exact idea as to how to go about the completion of this project.

I’d thank the support of my classmates in this regard too. My Parents, who have supported me throughout. God Almighty, For being there.

01/10/2014 Riswana Mahamood 703 Cochin,Kerala

Ageing is a natural process, which inevitably occurs in human life cycle. It brings with a host of challenges in the life of the elderly, which are mostly engineered by the changes in their body, mind, thought process and the living patterns. Ageing refers to a decline in the functional capacity of the organs of the human body, which occurs mostly due to physiological transformation, it never imply that everything has been finished. The senior citizens constitute a precious reservoir of such human resource as is gifted with knowledge of various sorts, varied experiences and deep insights. May be they have formally retired, yet an overwhelming majority of them are physically fit and mentally alert. Hence, given an appropriate opportunity, they are in a position to make significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their nation.
The population of the elderly persons has been increasing over the years. As per the UNESCO , the number of the aged(60+) was 590 million in 2005. The figure will double by 2025. By 2025, the world will have more elderly than young people and cross two billion mark by 2050. In India also, the population of elder persons has increased form nearly 2 crores in 1951 to 7.2 crores in 2001. In other words about 8% of the total population is above 60 years. The figure will cross 18 % mark by 2025.
Many governments have support systems in place for elderly persons such as social security and free or discounted medical care, for example. However, most of these systems were built on the premise that there will always be significantly fewer older persons than younger or middle-aged individuals living at one time. Because of declining death rates, therefore, these systems are beginning to feel a strain that will only increase over time. Additionally, the older-person support ratio is falling in both more and less developed regions, which could further lessen the ability of societies and governments to care for their aging populations.
These demographic trends create unique challenges for all people, particularly for the governments of nation-states around the globe. Elderly individuals are often subject to discrimination and abuse because they are perceived as easily taken advantage of. There is also a prevalent belief among many that elderly persons are worthless in today’s fast-paced, globalized and increasingly industrialized world. Obviously, with the number of elderly people on earth at any one time rising rapidly, there is an increased urgency to address the rights and roles of elderly persons in our world.
Problems of the aged as follows :
(i) Economic problems, include such problems as loss of employment, income deficiency and economic insecurity.
(ii) Physical and physiological problems, include health and medical problems, nutritional deficiency, and the problem of adequate housing etc.
(iii) Psycho-social problem which cover problems related with their psychological and social maladjustment as well as the problem of elder abuse etc.
Surveys have found that one out of every six older persons living in urban areas in India aren't obtaining proper nutrition, one out of every three older persons does not obtain sufficient health care or medicine, and one out of every two older persons don't receive due respect or good conduct from family members or people in general.
In today's state of urbanization in which women are increasingly joining the workforce, the roots of joint family systems are eroding. Higher numbers of older people who have spent most of their life with their joint/extended families may face loneliness and marginalization in their old age. In rural areas the older members of families, (i.e.: people who are above 60 years of age), are respected more and are considered a strong part of the family as the joint family system remains part of their roots. In villages 46.91% of the older men and 50.1% of older women are from joint families. In rural areas 13,560 out of 29,000 rural elderly have joint families.
Rights at Stake
The rights of aged persons can be broken down into three main categories :protection, participation and image. Protection refers to securing the physical, psychological and emotional safety of elderly persons with regard to their unique vulnerability to abuse and ill treatment. Participation refers to the need to establish a greater and more active role for older persons in society. Image refers to the need to define a more positive, less degrading and discriminatory idea of who elderly persons are and what they are capable of doing. Regional intergovernmental organizations in particular have begun to deal with these categories of rights in some detail in their recommendations and treaties.
Special consideration for the rights of the elderly has been granted relatively recently in recommendations and treaties between international instruments, like the Council of Europe. These more detailed recommendations and agreements on the rights of the elderly, however, are all based upon the fundamental premises established in documents like the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it is established that:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
Elderly persons’ right to security is particularly vulnerable to violation. For example, a component of the right to security is the right to healthcare if one, due to old age, is unable to afford or pursue healthcare on one’s own. Although many countries currently have universal healthcare systems, these systems are beginning to feel the strain of an increasingly aged population, and there is some question about how these systems will be maintained in the future. In other countries, like the United States, where there are only federally and state-subsidized healthcare programs for those who are indigent, disabled or elderly, rising healthcare costs are threatening the survival of these systems. These rights are related to the right to an adequate standard of living, which is often affected in the case of the elderly, due to lack of an adequate support system for them.
Elderly individuals also have the right to non-discrimination. Elderly people should not be thought of as useless to society simply because some of them may need more care than the average person. These stereotypes of the elderly can lead to degrading treatment, inequality and, sometimes, abuse.
Similarly, elderly persons’ right to participation is sometimes threatened due to prevailing negative images societies hold of the aged. The aged are often not given the same opportunities as others to be productive members of society. Governments are obliged to aid in creating a more positive image of the abilities and strengths of older populations as well as solid opportunities for elderly people to participate in the ongoing creation of their societies.
The elderly’s right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is also often threatened. People sometimes take advantage of the vulnerability of elderly persons. People in old age, particularly older women, are often victims of neglect and physical and psychological abuse. Additionally, elderly refugees during humanitarian crises often fall victim to the torture and abuse that is sometimes inflicted upon civilian populations.
National Efforts:
(I) Constitutional Protection:
 Art. 41 : Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases : The State shall, within the limits of economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.

 Art. 46 : Promotion of educational and economic interests of ……. and other weaker sections : The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people…..and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

 However, these provision are included in the Chapter IV i.e., Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution. The Directive Principles, as stated in Article 37, are not enforceable by any court of law. But Directive Principles impose positive obligations on the state, i.e., what it should do. The Directive Principles have been declared to be fundamental in the governance of the country and the state has been placed under an obligation to apply them in making laws. The courts however cannot enforce a Directive Principle as it does not create any justiciable right in favour of any individual. It is most unfortunate that state has not made even a single Act which are directly related to the elderly persons.
(II) Legal Protections:
Under Personal Laws:
The moral duty to maintain parents is recognized by all people. However, so far as law is concerned, the position and extent of such liability varies from community to community.
(I) Hindu Laws:
Amongst the Hindus, the obligation of sons to maintain their aged parents, who were not able to maintain themselves out of their own earning and property, was recognized even in early texts. And this obligation was not dependent upon, or in any way qualified, by a reference to the possession of family property. It was a personal legal obligation enforceable by the sovereign or the state. The statutory provision for maintenance of parents under Hindu personal law is contained in Sec 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. This Act is the first personal law statute in India, which imposes an obligation on the children to maintain their parents. As is evident from the wording of the section, the obligation to maintain parents is not confined to sons only, and daughters also have an equal duty towards parents. It is important to note that only those parents who are financially unable to maintain themselves from any source, are entitled to seek maintenance under this Act.
(II) Muslim Law:
Children have a duty to maintain their aged parents even under the Muslim law. According to Mulla :
(a) Children in easy circumstances are bound to maintain their poor parents, although the latter may be able to earn something for themselves.
(b) A son though in strained circumstances is bound to maintain his mother, if the mother is poor, though she may not be infirm.
(c) A son, who though poor, is earning something, is bound to support his father who earns nothing.
According to Tyabji, parents and grandparents in indigent circumstances are entitled, under Hanafi law, to maintenance from their children and grandchildren who have the means, even if they are able to earn their livelihood. Both sons and daughters have a duty to maintain their parents under the Muslim law. The obligation, however, is dependent on their having the means to do so.

(III) Christian And Parsi Law:
The Christians and Parsis have no personal laws providing for maintenance for the parents. Parents who wish to seek maintenance have to apply under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.
(III) Under The Code Of Criminal Procedure:
Prior to 1973, there was no provision for maintenance of parents under the code. The Law Commission, however, was not in favour of making such provision. According to its report:
The Cr.P.C is not the proper place for such a provision. There will be considerably difficulty in the amount of maintenance awarded to parents apportioning amongst the children in a summary proceeding of this type. It is desirable to leave this matter for adjudication by civil courts.
The provision, however, was introduced for the first time in Sec. 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in 1973. It is also essential that the parent establishes that the other party has sufficient means and has neglected or refused to maintain his, i.e., the parent, who is unable to maintain himself. It is important to note that Cr.P.C 1973, is a secular law and governs persons belonging to all religions and communities. Daughters, including married daughters, also have a duty to maintain their parents.
(IV) Governmental Protections:
1. The Government of India approved the National Policy for Older Persons on January 13, 1999 in order to accelerate welfare measures and empowering the elderly in ways beneficial for them. This policy included the following major steps :
(i) Setting up of a pension fund for ensuring security for those persons who have been serving in the unorganized sector,
(ii) Construction of old age homes and day care centers for every 3-4 districts,
(iii) Establishment of resource centers and re-employment bureaus for people above 60 years,
(iv) Concessional rail/air fares for travel within and between cities, i.e.,30% discount in train and 50% in Indian Airlines.
(v) Enacting legislation for ensuring compulsory geriatric care in all the public hospitals.
2. The Ministry of Justice and Empowerment has announced regarding the setting up of a National Council for Older Person, called agewell Foundation. It will seek opinion of aged on measures to make life easier for them.
3. Attempts to sensitise school children to live and work with the elderly. Setting up of a round the clock help line and discouraging social ostracism of the older persons are being taken up.
4. The government policy encourages a prompt settlement of pension, provident fund (PF), gratuity, etc. in order to save the superannuated persons from any hardships. It also encourages to make the taxation policies elder sensitive.
5. The policy also accords high priority to their health care needs.
6. According to Sec.88-B, 88-D and 88-DDB of Income Tax Act there are discount in tax for the elderly persons.
7. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has also been providing several scheme for the benefit of aged persons, i.e.,Jeevan Dhara Yojana, Jeevan Akshay Yojana, Senior Citizen Unit Yojana, Medical Insurance Yojana.
8. Former Prime Minister A.B.Bajpai was also launch ‘Annapurana Yojana’ for the benefit of aged persons. Under this yojana unattended aged persons are being given 10 kg food for every month.
9. It is proposed to allot 10 percent of the houses constructed under government schemes for the urban and rural lower income segments to the older persons on easy loan. The policy mentions:
The layout of the housing colonies will respond to the needs and life styles of the elderly so that there is no physical barriers to their mobility; they are allotted ground floor; and their social interaction with older society members exists.
Despite all these attempts, there is need to impress upon the elderly about the need to adjust to the changing circumstances in life and try to live harmoniously with the younger generation as for as possible.
It may be pointed out that the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that the benefits conferred on a Government employee, who is disabled during his/her service period, under Section 47 of Persons with Disabilities(equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995 cannot be confined only seven types of medical conditions defined as ‘disability’ in the Act. The seven medical conditions are blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impaired, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. A Division Bench comprising Justice F.M.Ibrahim and Justice K.Venkataraman said : “We feel that the court cannot shut its eyes if a person knocks at its doors claiming relief under the Act. In a welfare State like India, the benefits of benevolent legislation cannot be denied on the ground of mere hyper technicalities. It may be noted that this Act is not directly related to aged person but seven medical conditions which prescribed in this Act are the common symptom of the aged person.
International Efforts:
The question of ageing was first debated at the United Nations in 1948 at the initiative of Argentina. The issue was again raised by Malta in 1969. In 1971 the General Assembly asked the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report on the elderly and to suggest guideline for the national and international action. In 1978, Assembly decided to hold a World Conference on the Ageing. Accordingly, the World Assembly on Ageing was held in Vienna from July 26 to August 6, 1982 wherein an International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted. The overall goal of the Plan was to strengthen the ability of individual countries to deal effectively with the ageing in their population, keeping in mind the special concerns and needs of the elderly. The Plan attempted to promote understanding of the social, economic and cultural implications of ageing and of related humanitarian and developed issues. The International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted by the General Assembly in 1982 and the Assembly in subsequent years called on governments to continue to implement its principles and recommendations. The Assembly urged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to ensure that follow-up action to the Plan is carried out effectively.
(i) In 1992, the U.N.General Assembly adopted the proclamation to observe the year 1999 as he International Year of the Older Persons.
(ii) The U.N.General Assembly has declared “Ist October” as the International Day for the Elderly, later rechristened as the International Day of the Older Persons.
(iii) The U.N.General Assembly on December 16, 1991 adopted 18 principles which are organized into 5 clusters, namely-independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment, and dignity of the older persons.
These principles provide a broad framework for action on ageing. Some of the Principles are as follows :
(i) Older Persons should have the opportunity to work and determine when to leave the work force.
(ii) Older Persons should remain integrated in society and participate actively in the formulation of policies which effect their well-being.
(iii) Older Persons should have access to health care to help them maintain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being.
(iv) Older Persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential and have access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.
(v) Older Persons should be able to live in dignity and security and should be free from exploitation and mental and physical abuse.
International and Regional Instruments for Protection and Promotion of Rights of Elderly
International legal instruments take the form of a treaty (also called agreement, convention, or protocol) that binds the contracting states to the negotiated terms. When negotiations are completed, the text of a treaty is established as authentic and definitive and is "signed" by the representatives of states. A state can agree to be bound to a treaty in various ways. The most common are ratification or accession. A new treaty is ratified by those states that have negotiated the instrument. A state that has not participated in the negotiations may, at a later stage, accede to the treaty. The treaty enters into force, or becomes valid, when a pre-determined number of states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.
When a state ratifies or accedes to a treaty, that state may make reservations to one or more articles of the treaty, unless reservations are prohibited by the treaty. Reservations may normally be withdrawn at any time. In some countries, international treaties take precedence over national law; in others a specific law may be required to give a ratified international treaty the force of a national law. Practically all states that have ratified or acceded to an international treaty must issue decrees, change existing laws, or introduce new legislation in order for the treaty to be fully effective on the national territory.
The binding treaties can be used to force governments to respect the treaty provisions that are relevant for the human rights of the elderly. The non-binding instruments, such as declarations and resolutions, can be used in relevant situations to embarrass governments by negative public exposure; governments who care about their international image may consequently adapt their policies.
The following are the international treaties, declarations and commitments that determine standards for the protection of the rights of elderly persons:
Charter of the United Nations (1945) (article 55)
Article 55 of the Charter pledges member states of the United Nations to promote higher standards of living for all people, social and economic progress, international cooperation on social issues including health and education and universal respect for human rights regardless of individual background or characteristics.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (article 3, 22, 25, 27)
The Universal Declaration asserts that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Furthermore, everyone is entitled to social security and the realization of any economic, social and cultural rights that are essential to that individual’s dignity and personality development. Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities in their community and share in the benefits of the arts and sciences. Finally, everyone is entitled to a standard of living adequate for one’s health and well-being including food, clothing, housing and medical care as well as any needed social services provided by the governments of nation-states. Most important to elderly persons, in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood or old age, one has the right to security due to circumstances beyond one’s control.
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) (article 24)
This convention establishes that states shall treat refugees lawfully abiding in their territory with the same respect for rights as other nationals including providing for a refugee’s social security in the event of sickness, disability or old age. As elderly refugees can face very specific challenges from other refugees, this article is particularly applicable to them and their legal rights.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) (article 9, 11, 12)
This treaty reiterates the right of everyone to social security. Additionally, all people are entitled to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing and housing. Going further than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant also guarantees everyone the right to continuous improvement of living conditions. This can be interpreted to mean that governments should be continuously work toward improving the living conditions of all people, including those under the care of the state, for example, some aged persons.
Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975) (article 5, 9, 10, 12)
This declaration defines the status of disabled persons. As some elderly persons often suffer from various types of disabilities, the rules established in this declaration are also applicable to them. Disabled people are entitled to all measures designed to assist them in becoming as self-reliant as possible. If a disabled person must stay in an institution for assistance, that individual is entitled to living conditions that come as close as possible to those of other people of the same age. Disabled persons are protected from exploitation and abuse. Organizations of disabled persons are to play a useful consulting role in any issue regarding the rights of the disabled.
ILO Recommendation No. 162 concerning Older Workers (1980) (section II, paragraph 5(g))
This recommendation states that older workers must enjoy equality of opportunity and treatment with other workers without age discrimination, including access to housing, social services and health institutions, particularly when this access is related to occupational activity or employment.
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981) (article 18)
The first charter of the African Union dealing with human rights recognizes the basic, specific right of aged and/or disabled persons to special measures of protection and security according to their needs, both physical and moral.
European Social Charter (1961) (article 11, 12, 13, 14)
This charter indirectly clarifies rights that are applicable to the situations of many elderly people: the need for a system of social security and medical care. European states are obligated under this charter to eradicate, as far as science will currently allow, the sources and conditions of ill-health as well as prevent the spread of disease. They are also committed to developing systems of social security for those who lack the resources to provide for their own security. Those individuals are also entitled to receiving appropriate medical care for when their condition necessitates it.
Recommendation R(87)22 on the screening and surveillance of elderly persons(1987)
Screening and surveillance of elderly persons should be conducted in order to prolong life of a high quality, “improve subjective well-being,” enhance the ability of elderly persons to function socially and prevent and lessen the impact of diseases. Hence, this recommendation suggests that member states should develop facilities for screening and surveillance of the elderly and motivate the elderly to attend these screenings. Additionally, all health staff involved with these facilities should receive training in geriatric medicine and gerontology. Finally, the collection of relevant data is encouraged so that these facilities will become more effective in the future.
Recommendation R(94)9 Social Cohesion and Quality of Life (1994) (including appendix)
This recommendation was developed due to concern over the increasing numbers of elderly persons in Europe and their tendency toward social exclusion, particularly the exclusion of elderly women, due to the fact that they tend to outlive men by several years. This recommendation is extremely short. However, the Appendix provides guiding principles for member states to follow when developing policies concerning the welfare of elderly people. The recommendation recognizes that the majority of elderly people actually live their lives autonomously and are, “in principle not more dependent than the population as a whole.” It also recognizes the value of elderly people to the general population, particularly younger generations. It recognizes the right of elderly persons to continue to live a high quality of life and to live securely. The elderly should also be enabled to live as autonomously as possible and continue to make their own choices. Elderly individuals should be able to participate fully in their society and have the resources to enable them to do that. Governments should work to prevent the social exclusion of the elderly. Information on issues pertinent to the elderly should be readily available to them as well as other individuals in their networks of security.
Recommendation 1254 on the medical and welfare rights of the elderly: ethics and policies (1994)
This recommendation was composed due to the concern that traditional rules and systems of social welfare are at risk of being dismantled because of the financial considerations of prominent lobbies in governments: scientific, medical and economic. Because of the aging of much of Europe’s population, this is of particular concern. For central and eastern European countries, it is recommended that short-term measures are taken to secure the welfare of elderly persons due to the often unstable political and economic situations in many states of the region. The recommendation suggests that states in this region of Europe guarantee minimum incomes that will provide for the security of the elderly population. Additionally, eastern European governments are advised to prevent the deterioration of the public health system and provide for affordable medical care for the aged, provide for local services for the elderly and hone the effectiveness of existing social programs for this population. As to Western Europe, the recommendation suggests member states develop an employment and labor policy to carve out a new nook in society for the participation of the elderly, draw up a solid retirement and pensions policy, control public healthcare costs and increase local services for the elderly.
Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter (1998) (part II, article 4)
Every elderly person is entitled to social protection. Elderly persons should be enabled to remain full participants and contributors to society for as long as possible. They should have ready access to services and resources to make this possible. Elderly persons should retain the right to live freely and retain their independence for as long as they desire or are capable of doing. They should also have access to suitable housing for their needs as well as access to health care. Those aged persons who are institutionalized should be guaranteed any necessary support, but should also have access to privacy and have the right to contribute to decision-making in the institutions in which they are staying.
Recommendation 1428 on the future of senior citizens: protection, participation and promotion (1999)
This recommendation was developed after the United Nations declared 1999 the “International Year of Older Persons.” It also recognizes the development of the Group of Specialists on Optimising the Living Conditions of Elderly Dependent People within the Council of Europe. A couple of heretofore unmentioned concerns about the elderly include those older persons living in rural areas and the extreme disparities between their living conditions. The recommendation also encourages research to be done on the elderly at the national level so that programs can be tailored to the unique challenges of older persons in certain geographical locations. Additionally, it encourages states and local governments to develop new measures for the protection, increased societal participation and creation of a more positive image for the elderly.
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000) (article 25, 34, 35)
This recent charter recognizes the right of the elderly to live in an independent and respectable manner and be active participants in social and cultural life of member states. In the event of old age, individuals are also secured the right to social security benefits as well as social services. Additionally, those who lack sufficient resources are entitled to decent housing. Everyone is entitled to preventative healthcare and medical treatment as provided for by national law.

Arab Charter on Human Rights (1994) (article 30, 38)
Every citizen of states in the League has the right to comprehensive social security. Although detail is lacking on rules of implementation for member states, the charter recognizes that member states will also provide care for the aged.
The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1990) (article 17, 18)
This declaration deals with the basic concerns of many elderly persons and their advocates: security and the means of providing for their basic needs. Everyone has the right to health and medical care within the capability of each state. Everyone has the right to live in security. All are entitled to a means of making a living that will enable each person to provide for food, clothing, medical care and any other basic need.
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948) (article 11, 16)
This declaration states that all people have the right to be able to maintain their standard of health within the resources of the community or state. Additionally, in the event of old age, one is entitled to social security in order to maintain an adequate standard of living.
American Convention on Human Rights (1969) (article 5, 6)
This convention establishes that everyone has the right to humane treatment, which is important, as the elderly are often victims of neglect and abuse.
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1988) (article 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18)
Similar to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the this protocol establishes that, in the event of old age, one is entitled to social security in order to maintain an adequate standard of living. Additionally, if this individual is to die, and has dependents, the dependents will receive social security benefits at the time of the individual’s death. Article 17 specifically states that special protection is an entitlement of persons of old age. Elderly persons who cannot provide themselves have the right to acceptable facilities, food and medical care. Also, elderly persons actually have the right, according to this document, to participate in work programs that allow individuals to participate in productive work consistent with their needs and wants. Member states are, furthermore, obligated to aid in the establishment of social organizations created in order to improve the lives of elderly persons.

Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing 1983:
This Plan of Action provides that States will:
•develop and apply policies at the international, regional and national levels which are designed to enhance the lives of the ageing as individuals and to allow them to enjoy in mind and in body, fully and freely, their advancing years in peace, health and security; and
•study the impact of ageing populations on development and that of development on the ageing, with a view to enabling the potential of the ageing to be fully realized and to mitigating, by appropriate measures, any negative effects resulting from this impact.
UN General Assembly Proclamation on Ageing 1992
This Proclamation seeks to ensure, amongst others, the following:
•appropriate national policies and programmes for the elderly are considered as part of overall development strategies;
•policies which enhance the role of Government, the voluntary sector and private groups are expanded and supported;
•old and young generations cooperate in creating a balance between tradition in economic, social and cultural development;
•policies and programmes are developed which respond to the special characteristics, needs and abilities of older women;
•older women are given adequate support for their largely unrecognized contributions to the economy and the well-being of society;
•older men are encouraged to develop social, cultural and emotional capabilities which they may have been prevented from developing during breadwinning years; and
•community awareness and participation is encouraged in the formulation and implementation of programmes and projects with the involvement of older persons and families are supported in providing care and all family members are encouraged to cooperate in caregiving.
Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002
This was adopted in order to respond to the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population in the twenty-first century and to promote the development of a society for all ages. The Plan of Action has three priority areas: persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

Government Policies/Schemes for the Elderly
Over the years, the government has launched various schemes and policies for older persons. These schemes and policies are meant to promote the health, well-being and independence of senior citizens around the country. Some of these programmes have been enumerated below.
The central government came out with the National Policy for Older Persons in 1999 to promote the health and welfare of senior citizens in India. This policy aims to encourage individuals to make provision for their own as well as their spouse’s old age. It also strives to encourage families to take care of their older family members. The policy enables and supports voluntary and non-governmental organizations to supplement the care provided by the family and provide care and protection to vulnerable elderly people. Health care, research, creation of awareness and training facilities to geriatric caregivers have also been enumerated under this policy. The main objective of this policy is to make older people fully independent citizens.
This policy has resulted in the launch of new schemes such as-
1.Strengthening of primary health care system to enable it to meet the health care needs of older persons
2.Training and orientation to medical and paramedical personnel in health care of the elderly.
3.Promotion of the concept of healthy ageing.
4.Assistance to societies for production and distribution of material on geriatric care.
5.Provision of separate queues and reservation of beds for elderly patients in hospitals.
6.Extended coverage under the Antyodaya Scheme with emphasis on provision of food at subsidized rates for the benefit of older persons especially the destitute and marginalized sections.
National Social Assistance Scheme
The National Social Assistance Scheme (NSAS) or National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is a flagship welfare program of the Government of India initiated on 15 August 1995. Article 41 of the Indian Constitution directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development. The scheme is a "giant step" towards achieving the directive principle in the Constitution.
The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India although the beneficiaries could hail from either urban or rural areas. The scheme is completely sponsored by the Central Government, unlike other welfare schemes like the Indira Awaas Yojana where the Union government shares costs with the State governments.
Under the Union Budget for the financial year of 2011-12, an allocation of Rs. 6,158 crores was made to implement this scheme under the union budget 2012-2013 raising the allocation under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) by 37 per cent from 6,158 crore in 2011-12 to 8,447 crore in 2012-13
There are five major components under this scheme.
National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)
The National Old Age Pension Scheme provides a pension for the elderly who live below the poverty line.
1.The age of the applicant (male/female) should be 60 or above (revised from 65 in 2009).
2.The applicant may reside in either rural or urban areas, but must be living under the poverty line. The criteria for the poverty line are defined by the Central Government and revised from time to time.
3.The amount of old age pension is Rs. 300 per month for applicants aged 60–79. For applicants aged above 80 years, the amount has been revised in Rs. 500 a month according to the 2012 Budget.
4.The ceiling on the total number of old-age pensions for purposes of claiming central assistance will be specified for the states and Union Territories from time to time.
5.The benefit under NOAPS should be disbursed in not less than two installments in a year and, if possible, the benefit may be disbursed in more installments as per direction of state government.
The death of a pensioner is immediately reported to the appropriate sanctioning authority by the villagepanchayats and municipalities and the payments are promptly stopped by the same. Any pension amount sanctioned on the basis of false or mistaken information about eligibility can also be stopped or recovered by the sanctioning authority.
National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)
In case of the death of the "primary breadwinner" of a household living below poverty line conditions, a lump sum grant of Rs. 20,000 (from fiscal 2012-13) is provided to the household. The primary breadwinner as specified in the scheme, whether male or female, had to be a member of the household whose earning contributed substantially to the total household income. The death of such a primary breadwinner occurring whilst he or she is in the age group of 18 to 64 years i.e., more than 18 years of age and less than 65 years of age, makes the family eligible to receive grants under this.

Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme
A pension of Rs. 300 per month ( From fiscal 2012-13) to be granted to widows aged 40–59 living below poverty-line conditions. Pradhan of Gram panchayat shall review the list of widows and report in case of any re-marriage
Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme
A pension of Rs. 300 per month (From fiscal 2012-13)to be granted to physically/mentally handicapped individuals aged 18–59, living below poverty-line conditions. The central govt has planned to increase the amount from Rs.300 to Rs.1000 and reduced the disability percentage from 80% to 40%.
Annapurna Scheme
On 1 April 2000 a new Scheme known as Annapurna Scheme was launched. This Scheme aimed at providing food security to meet the requirement of those senior citizens who, though eligible, have remained uncovered under the NOAPS. Under the Annapurna Scheme 10 kg of food grains per month are provided free of cost to the beneficiary. The number of persons to be benefited from the Scheme are, in the first instance, 20% of the persons eligible to receive pension under NOAPS in States/UTs.
Governmental concessions and facilities for the Elderly
The government of India provides various concessions and facilities to its senior citizens.The Union Cabinet’s latest decision to approve a new law - Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, aimed at serving the elderly live in self-respect and peace. The Bill to be introduced in Parliament this monsoon session includes provisions to guard India's senior citizens besides specifically prescribing the State’s role in taking care of them. The Bill also places a legal responsibility on children and relatives to maintain the senior citizen or parent in order to facilitate seniors with a normal life. This obligation applies to all Indian citizens, including those who live abroad. The offspring and relatives of seniors will be required to provide sufficient support for senior citizens, while the state governments will create old age homes in every district.
Many government and private hospitals provide concessions to the older persons in the treatment of the diseases like cardiac problems, diabetes, kidney problems, blood pressure, joint problems and eye problems. There is also a condition for separate queuing of reservations for hospital beds.
Indian railways give 30% concessions in the ticket prices to all the persons aged 60 years and above. It is 50% for women aged over 60 years. Proof of age is required. There are also conditions of lower berth for older persons and also separate counters for booking and cancelling tickets to avoid rushes at the counters. Indian airlines provide 50% concessions in its economy class, (with particular terms and conditions applied). Air India provides 45% concessions to older persons in wheel chairs and are allowed to board the plane first.
The Indian government gives high rates of interest to its senior citizens on certain savings plans which are run by the post offices and other private banks.
The Indian government provides housing facilities such as retirement homes and recreational or educational centers. These centers provide older persons with opportunities to spend their free time doing various activities. Most recreational centers have fitness clubs, yoga centers, parks, spiritual sessions, picnics, food fests for the health and entertainment of senior citizens. Some old age homes also have libraries other activities such as music classes, arts and crafts, quizzes and indoor games. These activities help to spiritually uplift seniors and can contribute to overall health improvements and mental stability.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007
Legislative Framework
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act,2007 was enacted in December 2007, to ensure need based maintenance for parents and senior citizens and their welfare. The Act provides for:-
• Maintenance of Parents/ senior citizens by children/ relatives made obligatory and justiciable through Tribunals
• Revocation of transfer of property by senior citizens in case of negligence by relatives
• Penal provision for abandonment of senior citizens
• Establishment of Old Age Homes for Indigent Senior Citizens
• Adequate medical facilities and security for Senior Citizens
The Act was enacted on 31s1 December 2007. It accords prime responsibility for the maintenance of parents on their children, grand children or even relatives who may possibly inherit the property of a Senior Citizen. It also calls upon the State to provide facilities for poor and destitute older persons.

Provisions of the Act
• Parents who are unable to maintain themselves through their own earnings or out of their own property may apply for maintenance from their adult children. This maintenance includes the provision of proper food, shelter, clothing and medical treatment.
• Parents include biological, adoptive and step mothers and fathers, whether senior citizens or not.
• A childless Senior Citizen who is sixty years and above, can also claim maintenance from relatives who are in possession of or are likely to inherit their property.
• This application for maintenance may be made by Senior Citizens themselves or they may authorize a person or voluntary organization to do so. The Tribunal may also take action on its own.
• Tribunals on receiving these applications may hold an enquiry or order the children/relatives to pay an interim monthly allowance for the maintenance of their Parents or Senior Citizen.
• If the Tribunal is satisfied that children or relatives have neglected or refused to take care of their parents or Senior Citizen, it shall order them to provide a monthly maintenance amount, up to a maximum of 10,000 per month.
• The State Government is required to set up one or more tribunals in every sub-division. It shall also set up Appellate Tribunals in every district to hear the appeals of Senior Citizens against the decision of the Tribunals.
• No legal practitioner is required or permitted for this process.
•Erring persons are punishable with imprisonment up to three months or a fine of up to rupees five thousand or with both.
• State Governments should set up at least one Old Age Home for every 150 beneficiaries in a district. These homes are to provide Senior Citizens with minimum facilities such as food, clothing and recreational activities.
• All Government hospitals or those funded by the Government must provide beds for Senior Citizens as far as possible. Also, special queues to access medical facilities should be arranged for them.
National Policy On Senior Citizens,2011
The National Policy on Older Persons was announced by the Government of India in the year 1999. It was a step in the right direction in pursuance of the UN General Assembly Resolution 47/5 to observe 1999 as International Year of Older Persons and in keeping with the assurances to older persons contained in the Constitution. The well-being of senior citizens is mandated in the Constitution of India under Article 41. “The state shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to public assistance in cases of old age”. The Right to Equality is guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right. Social security is the concurrent responsibility of the central and state governments.
Subsequent international efforts made an impact on the implementation of the National Policy on Older Persons. The Madrid Plan of Action and the United Nations Principles for Senior Citizens adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2002, the Proclamation on Ageing and the global targets on ageing for the Year 2001 adopted by the General Assembly in 1992, the Shanghai Plan of Action 2002 and the Macau Outcome document 2007 adopted by UNESCAP form the basis for the global policy guidelines to encourage governments to design and implement their own policies from time to time. The Government of India is a signatory to all these documents demonstrating its commitment to address the concerns of the elderly.
The policy and plans were put in place by central and state governments for the welfare of older persons. The state governments issued their policies and programmes for the welfare of older persons. While some States and Union Territories implemented their policies with vigour, most states-- particularly the big ones-- were behind perhaps due to financial and operational deficiencies.)
Pensions, travel concessions, income tax relief, medical benefit, extra interest on savings, security of older persons through an integrated scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment as well as financial support was provided for Homes, Day Care Centres, Medical Vans, Help Lines etc are extended currently.
Areas such as welfare, microfinance, healthcare, special privileges in public distribution systems, productive ageing, safety and security ,housing, income tax and income security in old age is covered under this policy.
Initiatives by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Ministry of Social Justice had constituted the National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) on 11-1-1999 in which a representative from NHRC was included as a member.In its meeting held on 8th March, 2002, the Commission noted the details of the implementation of the Old Age Pension Scheme by the Central and State Governments and appointed Shri K. B. Saxena, IAS (Retd.),Former Advisor, Planning Commission for an in-depth study and recommendations.
Shri K. B. Saxena submitted a Report with Suggested Interventions on “National Old Age Pension Scheme: Issues of Policy and Governance”.The Report was published by NHRC in October 2007. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment reconstituted the National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) on 1st August 2005 under the Chairmanship of Ministry for Social Justice & Empowerment. The Secretary General, NHRC is a member of the NCOP. The Council, presently, has 15 official Members and 33 non-official members.
Conclusion: Issues and Challenges in Supporting the Older Poor in India
• The institution and functioning of the family as a support structure for older people is under severe pressure because of poverty,unemployment and changing attitudes and as such external supportis needed to strengthen the family and provide supplementary income;
• Since the older people are disadvantaged by stereotypes which largely discredit the poor older workers in the unorganized sector, necessary measures are required to create opportunities, increase the competence of older workers and counterbalance this negative image;
• Incidence of widowhood among women even before reaching old age results in a serious disadvantaged experience of old age;
• Lack of food is a major cause of poor health; priority for elderly inthese circumstances receiving nutritional supplements is highly desirable.
• The configuration, design and general physical environment in which older people live including housing, transport, work place and recreation could be made more user friendly to achieve greater independent personal mobility, safety and convenience;
• Systematic and analytical studies on the needs of the elderly in India, both urban and rural, are required to add substance to the many preliminary and exploratory studies already made;
• On account of the shortage of trained personnel in many specialist fields, the training of professionals to organize and promote services and programmes for the elderly needs to be given high priority, especially in such areas as family support, financial provisions, healthcare and community involvement.
• The specialised health needs of the older people require greater attention through the expansion and integration of geriatric and gerontological training in the medical curricula, mainstreaming of geriatric services in the Primary Health Centres and geriatric rehabilitation in the integrated Community Development programmes as an integral component of community based services would ensure that the full range of support services is accessible to older people in the health system.
At this age of their life, the senior citizens need to be taken care of and made to feel special. They are a treasure to our society. Their hardwork has helped in the development of the nation. The youth of today can gain from their experience, in taking the nation to greater heights.


 National Policy for Senior Citizens, March 2011
 HelpAge International
 The Human Rights of The Elderly, Frederic Megret
 International Human Rights and the Elderly,Jaclynn M. Miller
 Report on Elderly People,National Human Rights Commission
 The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act,2007
 The Rights of Older Persons, Marthe Fredvang and Simon Biggs
 Agewell Study on Human Rights of Older Persons in India
 The International Human Rights Status of Elderly Persons, Diego Rodriguez Pinzon & Claudia Martin

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