Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday urged people to address the aged as “elderly” instead of “older persons” and said society needs to be sensitised towards the challenges faced by them.
“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,” he told a gathering at the ‘ VAYO NAMAN ’ programme in the honour of senior citizens on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons.
“The various strata of the society need to be sensitised towards the challenges faced by the elderly as the problems relating to old age are not experienced nor fully comprehended by others and media and NGOs should take up sensitisation drives to educate people in this regard,” he said.
“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,” Mr. Naidu said.
The Vice-President conferred the ‘Vayosheshtra Samman’ awards to the elderly and NGOs for their contributions.
On the occasion, he also dedicated a helpline, Elderly Line 14567, to the nation and launched the Senior Able Citizens Reemployment in Dignity (SACRED) and Senior Care Ageing Growth Engine portals.
“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 (Social Justice and Empowerment) Ministry’s decision to launch the national helpline (Elder Line) to resolve the grievances of senior citizens is commendable,” he said.
According to the Census of 2011, India has an elderly population of 10.38 crore. This constitutes about 8.6% of the total population. Based on the rate of growth, the population of the elderly in India is projected to reach about 14.9% of the total population, by 2036, Mr. Naidu noted.
“The phenomenon of an ageing population throws up major challenges both to society and the government. 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,” he said.
Noting that many senior citizens lead an active life, Mr. Naidu said their experience and skills should be used meaningfully for the nation’s growth and development and wherever needed, training should be imparted to them for upgrading their skills.
“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 to connect our able senior citizens with job providers in the private sector,” he said.