Ageing, an indicator of both, challenges and opportunities, is a worldwide phenomenon that cannot be escaped and India is no exception where the ageing population accounts to 8.57 per cent of the total population as per Census 2011. With an ever increasing population in India, the population of the senior citizens in the country is rapidly increasing, projecting to go to 12.4 per cent in 2026, with the advancements in medical sector as one of the major contributors towards the steady rise.
With the term ageing, comes vulnerability for the elderly people subjecting them to dependency, indisposition and weakened stature of the life phase, isolating the entire population from the rest, citing the need of special attention, protection and rights for them.
The traditional societies encompassing the very concept of joint family have now become the things of past as slowly and steadily the socio-economic scenario, modernisation, urbanisation, industrialisation, ever-increasing aspirations among the youths of the society have paved way for nuclear families creating a bar of isolation over the old age people.
Several policies, programmes and projects have been laid out, catering to the needs of the elderly and these even have helped for the upliftment of their status in the society but adding more to it will lead to perfection in the field, ensuring that the provisions reach out to the desired population in a more productive way. Non- Aligned Movement (NAM) with all its Member States and rest of the world has strongly raised concern for the ageing population with the enactment of effective and efficient measures ensuring no harm and violation of their rights. Designating October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons, on December 14, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly initiated a move in line with tackling the issues concerning old age people, loneliness, discrimination, abuse and economic instability being the major challenges.
Confronting the concept of ageing and empowering the concerned population with its schemes, policies and programmes, the government of India has enacted the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act in 2007 that ensures need- based maintenance along with the welfare of the parents and senior citizens. The Act makes it mandatory for the children to ensure maintenance of the parents and senior citizens, failure of which can lead to severe punishments. Also, the provision advocates for penalty for desertion of parents, establishment of Old Age Homes, proper health- care facilities and security for the elderly.
In line with the move, the Government of Delhi under Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules, 2016, Section 22 has ensured protection of senior citizens and parents that empowers the ageing generation to eliminate the children or the legal heir from their self-acquired property in case of their ill treatment and non maintenance on part of their children. Apart from this, several laws penned down in the Constitution of India maintain for various provisions for the old age people, including employment opportunities to allow them to live an independent life with recognition and respect, awareness generation regarding their human rights which are meant for all, regardless of age with other benefits including concessions in various fields.
The introduction of the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) in August 1995, has so far benefitted a huge chunk of old age population and is still counting to widen the horizons. The scheme provides for financial assistance by the central and the state governments in the form of pension to the senior citizens in India ageing 60 and above.
Several organisations and institutions have been initiating concerned efforts in collaboration with the government entities to reach out to a maximum of the elderly population. As the Non-Aligned Movement has always maintained its concern towards the perfection, there always exists the possibility of alterations to be rolled out to pave way for desirable changes for the good and welfare of the society, especially towards the section that requires more attention to cope up with the challenges ahead. Thus, it becomes the utmost responsibility of any nation to maintain a balance in the human rights scale by ensuring the upliftment and empowerment of each section of the society that faces vulnerability in its existence in the so- called sophisticated class of the society that somehow constitutes to be a major cause of encroachment of elderly rights and protection in the present scenario.