Start-ups should come up with innovative and out-of-box solutions to the problems faced by the elderly- Vice President

VP urges the private sector to employ senior citizens and get benefitted from their skills and experience Vice President launches SACRED portal and Elder Line helpline for elders today We should refer to our senior citizens as ‘elderly’ instead of calling them ‘older persons’ – Vice President Digital literacy is very important; youngsters should educate the elders in their families and neighbourhood on the use of digital devices – Vice President Need for a sensitization drives to educate people on the problems faced by the elderly – Vice President

New Delhi: Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today urged India’s young start-ups to come up with innovative and out-of-box solutions to the everyday problems faced by the elderly. He said that taking care of the elderly should not be the responsibility of the government alone and each one of us should come forward and join this noble cause.

Addressing the gathering after presenting the National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman-2021 in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi today, the Vice President said that he would prefer to call our senior citizens as ‘elders’ rather than ‘older persons’.

At the event, the Vice President launched the SACRED (Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity) portal to connect the senior citizens with job providers in the private sector. Referring to the LASI report-2020, he said that more than 50% of senior citizens are active and therefore, it is very important to provide gainful employment opportunities to them for a happy, healthy, empowered and self-reliant life. Highlighting that our elders are the vast repository of experience and expertise, he urged the private sector to join the new portal and get benefitted from the skills and experience of our senior citizens.

Shri Naidu also launched a National Helpline (Elder Line) during the award function. Noting that senior citizens are a highly vulnerable group, the Vice President lauded the helpline in bringing in an easy and efficient grievance redress mechanism to protect them. The helpline set up by the Government in collaboration with Tata trust will function 12 hours a day to resolve the grievances of senior citizens from across the country.

Shri Naidu praised the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the initiatives for the welfare of elderly. “Your consistent efforts to ensure a dignified and comfortable life for the elders are indeed laudable,” he told the officials present. He also appreciated SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) portal designed by the Ministry to encourage entrepreneurs in the area of elderly care as a timely initiative.

It may be noted that the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution to observe 1st October 1999 as the International Day of Older Persons and since then, the 1st day of October every year is celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons, worldwide. On this occasion, the Government of India confers ‘National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman’ on eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their service towards elderly persons.

Referring to the theme for United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2021 which is ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’, the Vice President emphasised the need for increasing digital literacy among our senior citizens. He called upon the younger generation to take the lead in this regard and educate the elders in their family and neighbourhood on the use of digital devices. This will go a long way in empowering them, he added.

Noting the COVID pandemic has severely affected everyone including the senior citizens, Shri Naidu called upon the civil society and voluntary organisations to act as a support system to the elderly and supplement the efforts of the Government and its agencies. “They can play a proactive role in generating awareness on the problems of elderly people and help in strengthening intergenerational bonding,” he said.

Observing that the elderly population in India is projected to reach about 14.9 per cent by the year 2036, Shri Naidu recalled India’s rich tradition of respecting and caring for the elderly. “Under the Joint Family System, they enjoyed a place of reverence and influence, guiding and advising the younger generations on the strength of their knowledge, wisdom and long years of experience,” he said. Noting that with changing times and erosion of the traditional values, he said that these days many of our young children do not get the privilege of enjoying the tender care, love, affection and guidance of the older generations as was available to us in our joint families.

Referring to the various challenges in the wellbeing of the elderly, Shri Naidu said that the Government and Parliament are taking necessary initiatives to create the right policy framework for the care of the elderly. He called upon state governments and local bodies to proactively follow-up and implement these programmes.

Emphasising the need to sensitize the society towards the challenges faced by the elderly, he appealed to media and NGOs to take up sensitization drives to educate people in this regard. He also suggested that wherever needed, senior citizens should be imparted training to upgrade their skills.

Congratulating all the institutions and individuals who were honoured today with ‘National Award- Vayoshreshtha Samman 2021’, the Vice President said that their work will inspire others to follow the path of service.

In his address, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar listed various initiatives taken by the Government for the welfare of elderly and assured that the Central Government is making every effort to ensure that the ever-increasing number of the elderly population is well taken care of by their own family and also by the society.

On this occasion, Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Smt. Pratima Bhaumik said that the institution of National Awards is a major initiative taken by this Ministry to express its commitment to the cause of the elderly by giving national recognition to the distinguished institutions and individuals, who have rendered exemplary services in the field of senior citizens and to senior citizens who have made significant achievements in their life.

Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar, Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Ms. Pratima Bhaumik and Shri Ram Das Athawale, Secretary of the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri R. Subrahmanyam, distinguished awardees of Vayoshreshtha Samman and others were present on the occasion.

Following is the full text of the speech:

“Sisters and brothers,

is indeed a pleasure to address you today on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons and to honour those institutions and individuals who have rendered outstanding service to the cause of the elderly, in the form of “National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman-2021″. The recognition of their outstanding achievements through these National Awards would further motivate them to continue their good work and would also inspire others to emulate them.
As you are aware, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution to observe 1st October 1999 as the International Day of Older Persons and to promote the theme ”A society for All Ages”. Since then, the 1st day of October every year is celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons, worldwide.

 

In principle , I do not like to address them as “older persons” but prefer to call them as elderly . I would urge everyone to address aged people as elderly and not as older persons. This is also in line with our culture and traditions.

 

According to the Census of 2011, India has an elderly population of 10.38 Crore. This constitutes about 8.6 per cent of the total population. Based on the rate of growth, the population of the elderly in India is projected to reach about 14.9 per cent of the total population, by the year 2036. The phenomenon of an ageing population throws up major challenges both to society and the Government.

 

India has a rich tradition of respecting and caring for the elderly. Under the Joint Family System, they enjoyed a place of reverence and influence, guiding and advising the younger generations on the strength of their knowledge, wisdom and long years of experience. However, with the gradual disintegration of the Joint Family System, and the rapid proliferation of nuclear families coupled with the urbanization of the society, inter-generational bonding has weakened, resulting in erosion of the traditional values of respecting the elders in the family. These days many of our young children do not get the privilege of enjoying the tender care, love, affection and guidance of the older generations as was available to us in our joint families.

 

The various strata of the society need to be sensitized towards the challenges faced by the elderly as the problems relating to old age are not experienced nor fully comprehended by others. Media and NGOs should take up sensitization drives to educate people in this regard.

 

The growth in the number of senior citizens has also led to new challenges. One of the main challenges is to ensure timely and proper medical care to the elderly. Other issues include protecting the rights of the elderly, preventing their neglect and abuse by their children and relatives.

 

As you all are aware, the Government has enacted legislation for the protection and promotion of the rights of senior citizens and a policy framework has also been developed for the care of the elderly. The Government of India has launched several welfare schemes to provide comprehensive healthcare and economic independence to senior citizens.

Many senior citizens lead an active life. Their experience and skills should be used meaningfully for the nation’s growth and development. Wherever needed, training should be imparted to them for upgrading their skills.

 

The LASI (Longitudinal Ageing Study in India) report-2020 finds that more than 50% of senior citizens are active. Therefore, it is very important to provide gainful employment opportunities for such elders so that they can lead happy, healthy, empowered and self-reliant lives. Human Resource cells of many private enterprises seek experienced persons for certain positions. Therefore, I am very happy today that we have launched the SACRED portal which is developed by the MoSJE in collaboration with the Times Group to connect our able senior citizens with job providers in the private sector.

 

It is even more satisfying that voluntary organizations will help the senior citizens in applying for jobs and no user charges will be levied for this. I am confident that this interactive platform will be of great help to our elders and employers alike. I urge the private sector to utilize this opportunity and get benefitted from the vast repository of experience and expertise that our seniors possess.

 

Dear friends,

Taking care of the elderly should not be the responsibility of the government alone. Rather, it has to be an all-encompassing mission involving each one of us. It is a matter of pride that India has become the world’s third-largest start-up ecosystem today. Every day, our talented techno-entrepreneurs are scripting history in various fields. I would urge these young and vibrant start-ups to come up with innovative and out-of-box solutions to the everyday problems faced by the elderly. The newly designed SAGE portal is a very timely initiative by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to encourage entrepreneurs in the area of elderly care. I compliment you on this.

 

Our senior citizens are a highly vulnerable group and therefore, we need to provide an easy and efficient grievance redress mechanism to protect them. In this regard, the Ministry’s decision to launch the National Helpline (Elder Line) to resolve the grievances of senior citizens is commendable. I am happy to note that Elder Line is being set up by the Ministry in collaboration with Tata Trust and others.

 

It is reassuring to see that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is working proactively for the welfare of senior citizens. Your consistent efforts to ensure a dignified and comfortable life for the elders are indeed laudable.

 

Friends,

The COVID pandemic has severely affected all of us, including the senior citizens and the elderly. State Governments, NGOs and frontline workers have extended care and assistance to them. The need of the hour is for NGOs to act as a support system to the elderly and supplement the efforts of the Government and its agencies. They can play a proactive role in generating awareness on the problems of elderly people and help in strengthening intergenerational bonding.

 

The theme for United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2021 is “Digital Equity for All Ages” which calls for meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons. In the time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more and more services are being offered online. Hence, we need to make efforts to increase digital literacy among our senior citizens. I urge the younger generation to take a lead in this regard and educate the elders in their family and neighbourhood on the use of digital devices. This will go a long way in empowering them.

 

Before concluding, let me convey my congratulations to all the institutions and individuals who were honoured today with “National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman 2021” for their outstanding achievements in their respective fields. Let these prestigious awards and the work done by the recipients of the awards inspire others to follow the path of service.

 

I wish the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry and all officials engaged in the welfare of elderly all success in their future endeavours.

 

Thank You.

 

Jai Hind.”

 

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