NGOs working for the welfare of the elderly have demanded the government set up a national fund for them in the upcoming Union Budget, citing lack of facilities and basic health care for senior citizens. In an appeal to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, NGO Agewell Foundation has sought a national commission and national institute for senior citizens to protect their rights and health.
"With the ever-increasing life span, old age-related needs and requirements are now emerging as new challenges before older persons, their family members and caregivers. For most elderly taking care of their needs is becoming increasingly difficult. "In view of demanding lifestyle in old age, a large number of old people seek post-retirement jobs so that they can meet their growing needs as most people find their pension amount insufficient," Himanshu Rath, the founder chairman of the NGO, said.
Helpage India's Sumana Bhasin, too, urged the Centre to think of the elderly and not just the youth as aged parents were being left alone with the trend of nuclear families. "The population of senior citizens is increasing and India does not have a proper health care system for them like in developed countries. Certain states give Rs 1,800 while some give Rs 2,000 as pension but not every state is doing it. This amount is also not enough.
"The budget session should pay attention to elders in society. The current scenario needs to be addressed. We are always thinking of the youth, what about the growing grey population," Bhasin, the joint director, Research Mobilisation, HelpAge India, said. The activists working for the elderly have also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider the needs and rights of older persons in the budget.
"Set up a National Fund for the aged, on the lines of National Fund for Rural Development, to support older persons friendly projects i.e. Old Age Housing, Old Age Trauma Centres, Old Age Mobile Medicare services, Old Age Recreation Clubs, Old Age Pilgrimage, etc. The NGOs urged the government to set up National Commission for the Aged, on the lines of National Commission for Women. They also sought the establishment of a National Institute for Aged, on the lines of AIIMS for treatment and research in age-related ailments.
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