Hosted by the Senior Citizens Service Council, the two-day conference is packed with technical sessions delving into the issues faced by senior citizens across the country

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that steps will be taken to establish a separate State department for the welfare of the elderly before December.

He was inaugurating the 12th National Conference of the All India Senior Citizens Confederation here at the RDR Auditorium, Edapazhanji on Friday.

Technical sessions

Hosted by the Senior Citizens Service Council, the two-day conference is packed with technical sessions delving into the issues faced by senior citizens across the country, with focus on human rights, universal pension, palliative care and generic drugs.

For the participants, it is also an opportunity to engage with their peers and for those from outside the State, a tour as well. Entertainment and cultural programmes showcasing the State’s art forms such as Mohiniyattom, Thiruvathirakali, Kathakali and Oppana have been arranged for them.

Over 2,600 delegates from across the country were participating in the meet.

Applause

The largely Hindi-speaking audience were all applause for the ease with which Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala launched into his address in flawless Hindi.

‘Clean city’

Meanwhile, an observation made by a delegate from Mumbai, Shalini Arte, may invite a slew of incredulous responses from residents of the city that is playing host to the conference for the first time.

“Thiruvananthapuram is such a beautiful city and everything is so clean. There is no air pollution here,” said Ms. Arte.

With the residents lamenting, rightly so, about the garbage crisis in the city, Ms. Arte’s remark turned out to be a paradox of sort.

She, along with her husband, Harish Chandra Arte, is part of the 1,000-strong contingent from Maharashtra for the meet.

Enjoying

“I am thoroughly enjoying this year’s programme and this is the fourth national conference that I am attending,” said Mr. Arte, disagreeing with a delegate from Madhya Pradesh who complained that it was not as systematic as the one held at Vishakhapatnam last year.

“Even to get the bag and booklets provided to the delegates, we had to wait for a long time at the registration counter,” said Surendra Joshi.

“To organise such a summit is not easy, and for this magnitude, there is barely any mismanagement,” said Mr. Arte.

Crowds were thronging the stalls outside venue of the meet, the focus being the ones that sold the traditional ‘set mundu’.

Ms. Arte, too, waited patiently for American sociologist Grace Clark’s talk on ‘Human Rights of Senior Citizens’ to complete, to get a sari for herself.