Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Thursday, April 29, 2010

‘The society needs to invest in the study of senior citizens’

Recently a newspaper reported that a senior citizen sold his flat and deposited Rs27 lakh in a bank account held jointly by him and his son. Within a week, the son had withdrawn the entire amount without the father’s knowledge. When the father came to know about the withdrawal he was completely broken.

In this regard, I would like to describe an interactive session with the students of gerontology, which I attended at the invitation of Nasreen Rustomfram, dean of student affairs and professor of the Centre for Lifelong Learning.

Gerontology is a study of late adulthood and older people as a special group. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Tiss) in Deonar has a one-year diploma course in gerontology starting in June 2010. I attended the class discussion at Tiss to know how civil society can help and protect senior citizens from being duped by their children.

Kalpana Sanghvi who has finished the diploma in gerontology said that she had enrolled for the gerontology course so that she could take care of her bedridden mother-in-law. In her opinion, the society needed a course like this.

Presently the need of the society was to give our senior citizens, a life of dignity in their twilight years. Tiss, the premier institute in social work, has always responded to the change in social reality through development and application of knowledge.

Urbanisation, migration, industrialisation, women entering the labour force and many such social changes have steadily chipped away the joint family system. Community and family networks had all along sustained senior citizens. The result is that senior citizens are now forced to face a life of despair and loneliness.

All gerontology course students strongly felt that there were very few mechanisms to look into the problems of senior citizens. “Professionally qualified experts can deal with the problem in a better manner. This is why I joined the diploma course in gerontology at TISS. I have already worked with old people in Tanzania. I plan to open an old age home in Tanzania,” said Ragini Makwana, who has come all the way from Tanzania.

This gerontology course started by TISS prepares people to create opportunities that facilitate the experience of aging as an enriching one. More people should join the course to deal with the rising number of senior citizens.

By Indira Satyanarayan

(The writer is an instructor at SK Somaiya College)


Candidates may make inquiries through:
Telephone: +91-22-2556 3289 (8 lines), Extn. 252 / 237.

Centre for Lifelong Learning,
Tata Institute of Social Sciences,
Deonar, Mumbai - 400 088
Tel: 91-22-2552 5680

Email: ;

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Supreme Court notice to states/UTs on shelters for homeless

Within a week of ordering the Delhi state government to provide night shelters to the homeless in the capital, the Supreme Court (SC) has sought to widen the ambit of a probe into the right to life of urban homeless people and sought the status of availability of night shelters for the homeless across the country.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and K S Radhakrishnan on January 27 issued notice to all states and Union Territories (UTs), asking them to file their replies within a week. The bench further clarified that the notice should be served on the respective chief secretaries/administrators within two days through the resident commissioners in Delhi.

The notice is based on a report by two former bureaucrats, N C Saxena and Harsh Mander, appointed by the court earlier as its commissioners to look into the plight of homeless people in the national capital.

‘Living in the open is gross denial of the right to live with dignity,’ say the court commissioners in their report. ‘Directions similar to those given to the Delhi government last week need to be passed addressing the entire country, to defend and uphold the right to live with dignity, and the right of food and shelter for all urban homeless people in the country,’ they have said.

The proposals made by Saxena and Mander, include treating every unclaimed body not resulting from any accident as a possible starvation death, entailing mandatory inquest and post-mortem to ascertain the reasons for the death.

About 450 deaths have occurred in Uttar Pradesh, 40 in Bihar and 30 in Jharkhand this winter in the absence of proper shelter, clothing and food for the poor.

Citing a related report submitted to the apex court earlier, the commissioners said an estimated 80-200 million people ‘sleep hungry every night’ and studies had confirmed that a large number of the vulnerable population, including boys and girls, ‘are uncovered or inadequately covered by any government food schemes’.

Besides pointing out the plight of over one lakh homeless people in the capital, they said Lucknow had only eight temporary shelters and one permanent shelter for 20,000 homeless people, while there was no such facility in Mumbai and Patna.

According to the suggestions, the night shelters must have basic facilities such as bed, water, toilet, health check-up and recreation to enable the users to ‘enjoy their fundamental right to life with dignity’. Wholesome and hygienic meals should be provided through community kitchens for Rs 10 each to all working men and for Rs 5 to all women and free of cost to all children, aged, infirm and the destitute.

Activist-writer Bharat Dogra, while welcoming the SC intervention said: “A survey by Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan in Delhi revealed that most homeless people work hard and send back their savings to their poor families in remote villages. Helping the urban homeless thus indirectly helps some of the most poverty-hit families in rural areas.”

A review of the struggles of pavement dwellers by Bishnu N Mohapatra says in the context of Mumbai, ‘The case of Mumbai’s pavement dwellers clearly suggests that a group of people who are economically poor and socially marginal find it difficult to make their mark on state policies — even the ones that directly influence their life chances.’


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

India raises official poverty estimate

After a lot of deliberation, the Indian government has concluded that it has around 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004. This was after the country’s top policy planning body raised its estimate of the nation’s official poverty rate to 37.2% of the population, from 27.5%, a key development as the government drafts legislation to give the poorest Indians a right to state-subsidised foodgrain.

The move by the Planning Commission, which wasn’t announced formally but was confirmed by a senior government official, pegs the number of Indians in poverty at around 410 million -- more than 100 million above the previous estimate.

The change comes after critics said the earlier poverty estimate left too many destitute households out of the government’s food entitlement programmes. But the new poverty figure is unlikely to please food activists and politicians who feel it still vastly underestimates the number of people in need of assistance.

The 37.2% poverty line is based on a new methodology recommended by a panel headed by former economic advisor Suresh Tendulkar, in a report submitted to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in December 2009. Although the report still has to be officially accepted, for the limited purposes of food security the Planning Commission agreed to Tendulkar’s recommendations at a recent meeting of its members.

The earlier definition of poverty was based on calorie intake, according to which only 27.5% of people were living below the poverty line and the number of BPL families was around 65 million. With the Plan panel accepting the Tendulkar methodology, 37.2% of the total population, or 81 million families, will be placed below the poverty line.

The new poverty estimate, which will reflect the impact of high growth recorded during the decade, will be available in 2011. Computation of the number of BPL families at this stage assumes significance in view of the government’s decision to enact a food security law under which 25 kg of foodgrain will be provided every month, at Rs 3 per kg, to every BPL family.

The Planning Commission, mandated by the empowered group of ministers, chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to finalise the BPL numbers, will now meet the secretaries of food and expenditure to calculate the cost of providing food security to so many poor.

The burden on the central exchequer for implementing the food security law will depend on the number of BPL households and the quantity of subsidised foodgrain available with the government. Food subsidy stood at around Rs 72,000 crore in the last financial year.

“Two different poverty lines -- one for food security and the other for all other purposes -- for one country sounds odd. But this has been the most expedient solution for the time being,” said an official who did not wish to be named.

This will raise the number of those eligible for free food significantly -- but nobody’s sure how much. The widely quoted number is close to 10 crore families; some states put it at over 11 crore; the Planning Commission puts it somewhere between 7.5 and 8 crore. The worry is that it demonstrates, again, a dangerously halfhearted commitment to food security: dangerous because it will neither be abandoned nor effectively implemented, and the country could end up with a system that feeds too few and costs too much.

“This is a very low, suppressed poverty line. We reject it,” Kavita Srivastava, an activist who led a ‘right to food’ rally in the capital recently, said. “As far as we’re concerned, it still doesn’t tell us the real number of poor.”

Among the protesters at the rally was 50-year-old Kesar Sahu who lives in a slum in Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur, and supports herself and two daughters by sweeping floors and cutting vegetables at schools. The Rs 1,000 she earns in a good month isn’t enough to make do, even with existing government subsidies, she said. “We’re only getting 35 kg (of foodgrain) now. We really need 50 kg to get by. Everyone should get that much.”

Though India’s economy emerged from the global downturn with a solid gross domestic product growth of 7.2% in the year ended March 31, the country’s poor are struggling to deal with year-on-year food inflation that is hovering around 17%. Even before rising food prices, India was struggling with high malnutrition rates.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has pushed for legislation that will provide 25 kg of wheat and rice per month to households deemed officially below the poverty line. India already has a programme in place to distribute about 35 kg of subsidised foodgrain to poor households, but the rate is about 50% more expensive than what’s now being proposed.

Moreover, there is no law that guarantees food subsidies -- they are given at the central government’s discretion. And the current programme is plagued by corruption, with one-third of grain pilfered or rotting before it reaches needy households.

Experts say a third of the world’s poor are in India, living on less than $ 2 per day, worse than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Protest Letter submitted to Minister Mukul Wasnik for neglecting and ignoring Senior Citizens

Date: 24/04/2010


Shri Mukul Wasnikji,

Hon. Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment,

Government of India,

Shastri Bhawan,

New Delhi-110 001

Dear Sir,


1. Review committee for NPOP ( National Policy on Older Person)

2. NPOP review and Implementation

3. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act’ 2007 (MWSCA) Implementation

4. MOSJE department on Ageing

Reference: Ongoing Emails correspondence with you and MOSJE dept. since 15th Feb 2010

At onset we congratulate you and your ministry for taking various steps for Review of NPOP and schemes of welfare of Elderly.

This Letter is to bring to your kind notice the working of MOSJE department with regards to Ageing, NPOP and MWSCA.

On 8th Dec 2009 you had informed us about Review of NPOP at National Dementia Strategy meet held in New Delhi. But On 28/01/2010 we came across an internal circular issued by your MOSJE about appointment of Four Member Review committee. This move has surprised us and other important stakeholders. No consultancy was done for appointment of this committee with important stakeholders.

We appreciate NISD Training programme and government intention to review the NPOP but it’s sad to note that only Four People from the entire country are made part of this very important committee. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MOSJE) which looks after more then 90 million Senior Citizens has neglected and ignored important stake holders ,NGO's and organization in Constitution of Committee to review the NPOP. There is growing anger amongst Senior Citizens and important stake holders for this secretive step of MOSJE.

It seems MOSJE was in hurry and did not inform nor consulted National Council for Older Person (NCOP) nor the Standing Committee of MOSJE. It’s a close door appointment and the process is not transparent and leads to doubt/ suspicious and abuse of Senior Citizens and important organization working for Senior Citizens.

In this regards we had also filed an RTI on 17th Feb 2010 and after nearly two months received a one para reply on 15th April 2010.

It’s also to be noted that MOSJE does not responds through emails and also is not aware of contact details of NGO’s, Organization and professionals working for Elderly - this was visible in circular issued for 2nd meeting of experts in Delhi held on 19th March 2010. It is also alleged that minutes of meeting of review committee and minutes of meeting held by some of this four members is "doctored". Also many times it’s difficult to find right person in MOSJE handling Ageing, the department looks toothless and unmanned. A separate ministry or National Commission might be one of the solutions to look after more than 8% elderly population in India.

There are many important Organization and People all over India who are actively working for /with Senior Citizens and their rights, ignoring them will be big mistake. Already the earlier NPOP which was formulate in 1999 could not be adopted and implemented for more than 11 years and now there was need to review the NPOP due to changed scenario of society and need of elderly.

Most important is the view of common Senior Citizens of India - poll, survey, debate, News paper & Web Base suggestions etc could be an effective method to know the practical needs of man on the street, the common Senior Citizen.

We as an important member of civil society carried out ‘National Online Survey for Review of NPOP’ to look into needs and demand of Senior Citizens. This survey was jointly conducted by Silver Inning Foundation and Society for Serving Seniors to assess the requirement and need of Senior Citizens from 19th March 2010 to 15th April 2010. It was hosted on the Survey Site at the .The questionnaire was online for about a month. Wide publicity was given to this survey in a large number of web groups, blogs, websites and by email to Senior Citizens associations, Federations etc. Please find attached the detail Survey Report which will help, all of us to do justice and create a comprehensive NPOP.

If government of India is serious about making an realistic NPOP which will benefit different segment of Elderly viz. young Old, Old Old , Very Old ;then it should have progressive and positive mindset , a holistic approach is needed .It also need to include important stake holders and Senior Citizens themselves. Please find attached a comprehensive list of organization pan India working for /with Elderly.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act’ 2007 also needs your urgent attention as it’s not adopted nor implement on whole, pan India. Many Senior Citizens all over country are harassed and abused. This act will bring some relief to our Elderly.

Silver Inning Foundation on behalf of all the Senior Citizens strongly demands Ministry of MOSJE to reconstitute/ extend the current committee to other very important stake holders- NGO’s , Institution’s , Geriatricians , Gerontologist , Professionals and Intra govt. departments for the benefits of millions of Elderly in India, please have inclusive policy and don't discriminate the NGO's and other important stake holders. Also we demand to increase the time line to one year for making any decision with regards to NPOP.

We hereby demand implementation of comprehensive NPOP & The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act’ 2007.

We hereby once again raise our objection on constituting of current minor committee , time line given for review of NPOP , non implementation of NPOP & The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act’ 2007.An urgent step in this regards will be appreciated or else Senior citizens will launch nationwide protest.

Let’s work together for Rights of Elderly and create an Elder Friendly world.

Warm Regards,

Sailesh Mishra

Founder President

Silver Inning Foundation

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

National Online Survey Report for Review of NPOP – National Policy of older Person, India 2010

On 24th April ‘National Online Survey Report’ for review of NPOP and views of Senior Citizens was submitted to MOSJE Shri Mukul Wasnik by Sailesh Mishra at Bangalore at Inauguration function of Nightingale Center for Ageing & Dementia. The Minister assured that he will look into the matter.

On 8th Dec 2009 the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment (MOSJE), Shri Mukul Wasnik informed about Review of NPOP at National Dementia Strategy, New Delhi.

NPOP was formulated in 1999, but till date it has not been implemented by Central Govt / Pan India, due to various reasons including lack of political will. Various NGO's and activists have been advocating its implementation and review.

During these 10 years the world has changed, there has been significant demography change in India's population due globalization and improved medical facility and lifestyle. The fall of joint family system and rise in nuclear family system has brought new dimension to the care and welfare of Elderly. The population of aged people above 60 yrs as on 2009 is estimated at 90 million, i.e. around 8% of total population. According to UN the population of 60+ in 2050 will be around 20%.Life expectancy has increased 60% in last 60 years from 42yrs in 1950 to 69yrs in 2009.There is sharp increase in population of Young Old 60yrs to 69 yrs and Old old 80+. Due to this demand and needs of various age groups have changed. Now it is time for civil society and government to rethink their strategy to address the needs of Senior Citizens.

This survey was jointly conducted by Silver Innings Foundation and Society for Serving Seniors to assess the requirement and need of Senior Citizens from 19th March 2010 to 15th April 2010. It was hosted on the Survey Site at the link:

The questionnaire was online for about a month. Wide publicity was given to this survey in a large number of web groups, blogs, websites and by email to Senior Citizens associations, Federations etc.

Some brief points of Report:

Top 5 Needs of Senior Citizens:

1) There is a need for Fast Track Courts exclusively for Senior Citizens : 82.30%

2) Old Age Pension must reach all deserving persons : 81.86%

3) Separate Medicare policy must be available for older persons : 80.53%

4) Senior Citizen must be defined as one who is 60 plus : 79.20 %

5) A National Level Elder Helpline (Four digit Code) must be set up : 77.88%

Top 5 issues of Senior Citizens:

1) Health & Medical Care

2) Accommodation & Shelter

3) Food & Nutrition

4) Psychological Needs

5) Insurance

Some important Demands:

1. Affordable health insurance for senior citizens

2. Alzheimer’s must be included in the mentally ill disabled group in the census

3. Social Security Scheme for the Elders

4. A separate ministry for elderly persons

5. Life Long learning opportunity

6. Palliative care should be supported

7. Training of care givers

8. Inflation indexed interest for all savings instruments

9. The 80 Plus should be treated as a separate category for special assistance.

10. Separate plans for young old , old old and very old

11. Include comprehensive policy for Dementia in NPOP

12. Rural Elders should get special attention

13. Nodal agency to take care of the problems of senior citizens

14. R & D to be encouraged for different issues of Elderly

Read in Detail - National Online Survey for Review of NPOP’ :

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.