As the number of senior citizens increase – from 10.38 Crore in 2011 to an estimated 17.3 Crore in 2026 and 30 Crore in 2050, the government is exploring ways to promote the idea of 'Silver Economy' by developing residential and infrastructure facilities of different grades for senior citizens through public-private partnership for a dignified and safe aging experience. In this episode we will discuss all aspects of this issue.
Edited Excerpts from the Debate
Where do India stands in terms of caring for senior citizens?
India is well-known for having a demographic dividend because it is expected that the average age of the country, the population is going to be 29 in 2021-22.
The country has the glory of being one of the youngest country in the terms of young population.
However, the country needs to foresee that this population is soon going to be senior citizens.
Given this huge population, India needs to be prepared and start the preparation right now to take care of the senior citizens.
The Ministry of Social Justice has taken some serious steps regarding this. It has recently come with a National Action Plan on senior citizens.
A new senior citizens policy is being framed and some amendments in the already existing Acts have also been done.
The Union government has also asked the state to constitute or frame their own action plans and which is going to include the formation of:
Mobile medical units
Day care centres
Sg’s for senior citizens
Training for geriatric caregivers
Various other measures are being taken in this front.
Challenges and issues
India now faces great challenges related to its rapidly ageing population, such as
the lack of dedicated service and product outlets
the isolation of seniors in a changing society
Mental health issues are rarely discussed
Lack of financial support
In addition, most of the aged are not accorded the dignity of care they deserve in later life.
What reforms are required?
Economic and social innovation: The demographic changes in the country call for appropriate economic and social innovation underpinned by adequate policy reform and profound cultural transformation.
Promotion of silver economy: While the Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020 has been brought out at the right time with strong recommendations to promote the silver economy, a lot more needs to be done to drive the silver economy and to cater to the diverse needs of the senior population.
Innovative models of finance: The country needs innovative models of finance to drive the silver market and provide tailor-made services to seniors.
Social entrepreneurship: The global spending power of this generation is expected to reach $12 trillion by the end of this year. The professional service requirement, as a result, is likely to witness a manifold increase once economic activities pick up speed. With the increasing requirements, private investment can drive innovation and market growth in this segment. It is important to promote social entrepreneurship to accelerate the growth of the silver economy.
Effective public policy: Finally, effective public policy has an important role to play in creating an enabling environment for these efforts to bear fruit.
India’s demographic dividend, of being a ‘young’ country, will soon turn into a demographic nightmare if infrastructure and services are not developed quickly enough for our ageing population. The government needs to play an increasingly important role in bridging the massive gap between investments & expertise needed.
What is Silver economy?
The Silver Economy is dedicated to the elderly in our societies. As its name suggests, the Silver Economy is not a “market” but a cross “economy”.
The population ageing process is real and impacts every market and industry, such as: home accommodation, transport, food industry, insurance, robotics, health and e-health, , communications, Internet, sports and leisure.
All these markets are already adapting to ageing process.
The sectors covered include, among others, structures for the elderly, personal services, home help, housing, communication, transport, safety, leisure, hygiene, travel, Mutual insurances, provident institutions and insurers.
The rapid growth in the senior population is transforming societies across the globe.
Globally, the proportion of people over 65 years of age was 10 percent in 2012 but it is expected to jump to 22 percent by 2050, according to estimates by the World Economic Forum.
In OECD countries, the ratio is projected to increase, on average, from 23 percent in 2011 to 35 percent in 2030.
In India, the elderly population is expected to triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050, accounting for 18 percent of the total population in 2050.
Recent steps taken by Government for senior citizens
Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020: The Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020, which seeks to create a strong silver economy that caters to the new and evolving needs of seniors in the country.
Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) campaign: Besides, the government recently launched the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) campaign to offer support to seniors and ensure easy access to age-specific products and services for them.
Senior Citizens Saving Scheme (SCSS): This is a government-backed savings instrument offered to Indian residents above the age of 60.
Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY): The scheme is managed by the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).Under this scheme the beneficiary is assured of 8 per cent per annum return on the deposit.
Varishta Pension Bima Yojana: Launched by the LIC, this scheme provides its beneficiaries with a steady 8 per cent per annum interest rate for a period of 10 years.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY): Launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment of Government of India. This scheme is only available to those senior citizens who are below poverty line, that is, are BPL cardholders.
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme: Introduced in 2007 by the Ministry of Rural Development of India, this scheme is popularly known as National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS).
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is the nodal agency for subjects related to senior citizens.
The Ministry is also responsible for welfare, social justice and empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalised sections of society, including scheduled castes, Other Backward Classes, the disabled, and the victims of drug abuse.