Population of elderly in India (60 plus) is continuously on rise. In the first decade of the 21st Century (2001 to 2011), number of elderly has gone up from 77 Mn to 104 Mn comprising around 8.6 per cent of total population. Life expectancy has also substantially risen to around 70 years compared to about 63 about a decade ago. Better medical facilities, care, increased longevity, less fertility rates make elderly population fastest growing segment in India. During decade from 1991 to 2001, rate of decadal growth of elderly population was around 26 per cent compared to 22 per cent of other segments. However, this variation became much wider in subsequent decade 2001-2011, growth of elderly people being around 36 per cent compared to 18 per cent in other sectors. It is estimated that population of elderly people in India by 2050 will reach a stupendous figure of 300 million.Further, retirement age in India is at relatively low compared to average life expectancy, pegged usually at 60; at some places, it is even lower at 58 or 55. Million-dollar question often arises what one should do having retired at such an age; this is more so when energy is still there, or liabilities are still not extinguished or one has retired from a non-pensionable job and savings are not adequate. As per reports, hardly 10 per cent of Indian population have pensions from a government source. Therefore, for a large number of retirees, even financial planning for 15 to 20 years post-retirement is a big issue.
Under the above scenario, many Indians, post retirement, have to search for certain options for either meeting finances or keeping them busy. Keeping oneself busy is important as a mind without activity might become storehouse of negative energies that might have serious medical implications. Some of these options could be:
- Becoming an Advisor / Consultant in areas of expertise of the person. In current scenario of work from home and demand for specialized skills, there is an opportunity to become an Advisor / Consultant on an adjunct basis. One needs to look out for opportunities by being in network with like-minded people and also be in social media like LinkedIn.
- Starting own Consultancy. We see many retired people launching their own consultancy ventures and offering specialized services in different domain including engineering, technology, marketing, finance, HR, etc. There is also a great demand for specialized skills like dispute resolution consultants or insolvency practitioners, etc. where age is not a bar. There is not much financial risk involved in such a venture as operations can be done from home itself.
- Getting involved in Social Work / NGO Activities. There are lots of opportunities available: one can become geriatric counsellor, career counsellor, part-time teachers or doing voluntary service with NGOs involved in different types of social activities. One can chose activity and banner of NGO.
- Developing a Passion to keep oneself fruitfully busy. It could be a physical hobby like gardening, cycling or a mental hobby like drawing / painting, learning a new language. The hobby chosen should be in alignment with passion of the individual along with time and money one can commit for pursuance of the same.
Our studies show there are a good number of elderly people particularly between the age of 60 to 70 who do look for an avocation beyond formal age of retirement. Unfortunately, in India, there is no formal mechanism of support to such elderly people looking for alternative sources of employment. Employers as of today, both in public as well as private sector, are resistant to idea of providing jobs to retired seniors. Of late, there have been some opportunities of Work from Home for senior citizens but they are few and far between. It is suggested that both public as well as private sectors players should seriously consider some percentage of jobs needing at least few hours of service per week (part-time positions) be reserved for senior citizens. We also recommend for setting up dedicated head hunters / employment search agencies who can help senior citizens get jobs. Preference should also be given to individuals or self-help groups of seniors to avail of Mudra Loan, if they are entering entrepreneurship. Reskilling of the elderly people should be done at subsidised cost.
We suggest that the above should be the top priority of the Central as well as State Governments when they formulate policies for elderly people. Allowing elderly people to live a life of dignity is one issue. The more important aspect is that they should be given a chance to contribute to society till the time they can. It will be a win-win situation for both: elderly can spend time fruitfully and country will gain from their experience.
Dr A K Sen Gupta is the Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). This article has been published in Free Press Journal (FPJ) on 5th June, 2021, where he is a regular contributor. Dr Sen Gupta was the Director of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai and Director & Mentor at SIES College of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai. He was a World Bank Consultant and instrumental in setting up National Banking College in Ghana, Africa and Professor at National Institute of Bank Management, Pune.