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India Ageing Report 2023

  • Published
    29th Sep, 2023

Recently, India Ageing Report 2023 has been released by the United Nations Population Fund and International Institute for Population Sciences.

Highlights of the Report:

  • The report highlighted that the awareness among the elderly population regarding the social welfare schemes in the country remains very low.
  • India as the country’s elderly is likely to make up 20% of the country’s population by 2050.
  • Categorisation:
    • A little more than half of the elderly (55%) are aware of the old-age pension scheme (IGNOAPS), around 44% about the widow pension scheme (IGNWPS); and 12% about the Annapurna Scheme.
    • Also, in comparison to the awareness of social security schemes, the awareness of MWPSC (Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens) Act is relatively very low.
    • A little less than 12% of elderly people had any knowledge regarding the MWPSC Act - only 15% of elderly men and 9% of elderly women knew about the Act.
  • Low utilisation of welfare schemes:
    • For old-age people: About a third of the rural elderly (30%) from below-poverty-line (BPL) households receive benefits from IGNOAPS.
    • For Widows: Amongst the elderly BPL widows, only 24% receive the widow pension.
    • Food security: The utilisation of Annapurna scheme is substantially low across all sections of the elderly.
  • State-wise data:
    • Among Southern states: Only Karnataka showed a somewhat higher coverage (48.2%) while a third of the BPL elderly availed this scheme in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
    • Only a fourth of the ageing population from BPL households received IGNOAPS benefits in Telangana.
    • The highest coverage of welfare schemes was found in Andhra Pradesh wherein 51% of the widowed elderly received pension,
    • It was followed by Himachal Pradesh and Telangana with around 41% coverage.
  • Older persons with disabilities:
    • Of the total elderly population, around 5% have hearing impairment and 3.7% have vision impairment.
    • According to the report around 32% of the elderly with hearing and vision impairments availed the social insurance scheme.
    • The widowed elderly with disabilities: The widow pension scheme was utilized by those with physical impairment (17.6%), mental impairment (16.1%), hearing impairment (23.1%) and vision impairment (24%).
  • State-wise utilization of disability schemes:
    • Rajasthan, Bihar, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh showed higher access to IGNOAPS.
    • Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala are some of the States with lower access to the old age pension scheme.

Why elderly population is vulnerable?

  • Social factors responsible:
    • Negligence by kids towards their old parents.
    • Disillusionment due to retirement.
    • Feeling of powerlessness, loneliness, uselessness and isolation in elderly.
    • Generational gap.
  • Financial:
    • Retirement and dependence of elderly on their child for basic necessity.
    • Sudden increase in out of pocket expenses on treatment.
    • Migration of young working-age persons from rural areas has negative impacts on the elderly, living alone or with only the spouse, usually poverty and distress.
    • Insufficient housing facility.
    • A national survey carried out by the NGO HelpAge India has shown that as many as 47% of elderly people are economically dependent on their families for income and 34% are relied on pensions and cash transfers, while 40% of the surveyed people have expressed the desire to work “as long as possible”.
  • Health:
    • Health issues like blindness, locomotor disabilities and deafness are most prevalent.
    • Mental illness arising from senility (showing poor mental ability because of old age) and neurosis.
  • Absence of geriatric care facilities at hospitals in rural areas.

Government Initiatives for Elderly in India

  • Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY):
    • It is a Pension Scheme announced by the Government of India exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years and above.
    • The scheme is now extended up to 2023 for a further period of three years beyond 2020.
  • Integrated Program for Older Persons (IPOP):
    • The main goal of this policy is to improve the quality of life of senior citizens.
    • This is done by providing them with various basic amenities such as food, shelter, medical care, and even entertainment opportunities.
  • Rashtriya Vayoshree Yojana:
    • It is a central sector scheme funded from the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund. The fund was notified in the year 2016.
    • All unclaimed amounts from small savings accounts, PPF and EPF are transferred to this fund.
    • It aims to provide aids and assistive living devices to senior citizens belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category who suffer from age-related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disabilities.
  • SAMPANN Project:
    • It was launched in 2018. It is a seamless online pension processing and payment system for Department of Telecommunications pensioners.
    • It provides direct credit of pension into the bank accounts of pensioners.
  • SACRED Portal for Elderly:
    • The portal was developed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
    • Citizens above 60 years of age can register on the portal and find jobs and work opportunities.

Issues associated with schemes

  • Chances of Exclusion:
    • Eligibility for NSAP is restricted to “Below Poverty Line” (BPL) families, based on outdated and unreliable BPL lists; some of them are 20 years old.
    • When it comes to old-age pensions, targeting is not a good idea in any case as there are huge exclusion errors in the BPL lists.
    • For one thing, targeting tends to be based on household rather than individual indicators.
    • A widow or elderly person, however, may experience major deprivations even in a relatively well-off household.
  • Complicated Formalities:
    • Targeting tends to involve complicated formalities such as the submission of BPL certificates and other documents, which has certainly been the experience with NSAP pensions.
    • The formalities can be particularly forbidding for elderly persons with low incomes or little education, who are in greatest need of a pension.
    • Moreover, even when lists of left-out, likely-eligible persons were submitted to the local administration, very few were approved for a pension, confirming that they face resilient barriers in the current scheme.
  • Stagnant Contribution:
    • The central contribution to old-age pensions under NSAP has stagnated at a tiny Rs. 200 per month since 2006, with a slightly higher but still paltry amount (Rs. 300 per month) for windows.
    • On the other hand, many States have enhanced the coverage and/or amount of social-security pensions beyond NSAP norms using their own funds and schemes.
    • Some have even achieved “near-universal” (about 75%-80%) coverage of widows and elderly persons.
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