The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today urged India’s young start-ups to come up with innovative and out-of-box solutions to the everyday problems faced by the elderly. He said that taking care of the elderly should not be the responsibility of the government alone and each one of us should come forward and join this noble cause.
Addressing the gathering after presenting the National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman-2021 in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi today, the Vice President said that he would prefer to call our senior citizens as ‘elders’ rather than ‘older persons’.
At the event, the Vice President launched the SACRED (Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity) portal to connect the senior citizens with job providers in the private sector. Referring to the LASI report-2020, he said that more than 50% of senior citizens are active and therefore, it is very important to provide gainful employment opportunities to them for a happy, healthy, empowered and self-reliant life. Highlighting that our elders are the vast repository of experience and expertise, he urged the private sector to join the new portal and get benefitted from the skills and experience of our senior citizens.
Shri Naidu also launched a National Helpline (Elder Line) during the award function. Noting that senior citizens are a highly vulnerable group, the Vice President lauded the helpline in bringing in an easy and efficient grievance redress mechanism to protect them. The helpline set up by the Government in collaboration with Tata trust will function 12 hours a day to resolve the grievances of senior citizens from across the country.
Shri Naidu praised the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the initiatives for the welfare of elderly. “Your consistent efforts to ensure a dignified and comfortable life for the elders are indeed laudable,” he told the officials present. He also appreciated SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) portal designed by the Ministry to encourage entrepreneurs in the area of elderly care as a timely initiative.
It may be noted that the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution to observe 1st October 1999 as the International Day of Older Persons and since then, the 1st day of October every year is celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons, worldwide. On this occasion, the Government of India confers ‘National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman’ on eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their service towards elderly persons.
Referring to the theme for United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2021 which is ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’, the Vice President emphasised the need for increasing digital literacy among our senior citizens. He called upon the younger generation to take the lead in this regard and educate the elders in their family and neighbourhood on the use of digital devices. This will go a long way in empowering them, he added.
Noting the COVID pandemic has severely affected everyone including the senior citizens, Shri Naidu called upon the civil society and voluntary organisations 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,” he said.
Observing that the elderly population in India is projected to reach about 14.9 per cent by the year 2036, Shri Naidu recalled India’s rich tradition of respecting and caring for the elderly. “Under the Joint Family System, they enjoyed a place of reverence and influence, guiding and advising the younger generations on the strength of their knowledge, wisdom and long years of experience,” he said. Noting that with changing times and erosion of the traditional values, he said that these days many of our young children do not get the privilege of enjoying the tender care, love, affection and guidance of the older generations as was available to us in our joint families.
Referring to the various challenges in the wellbeing of the elderly, Shri Naidu said that the Government and Parliament are taking necessary initiatives to create the right policy framework for the care of the elderly. He called upon state governments and local bodies to proactively follow-up and implement these programmes.
Emphasising the need to sensitize the society towards the challenges faced by the elderly, he appealed to media and NGOs to take up sensitization drives to educate people in this regard. He also suggested that wherever needed, senior citizens should be imparted training to upgrade their skills.
Congratulating all the institutions and individuals who were honoured today with ‘National Award- Vayoshreshtha Samman 2021’, the Vice President said that their work will inspire others to follow the path of service.
In his address, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar listed various initiatives taken by the Government for the welfare of elderly and assured that the Central Government is making every effort to ensure that the ever-increasing number of the elderly population is well taken care of by their own family and also by the society.
On this occasion, Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Smt. Pratima Bhaumik said that the institution of National Awards is a major initiative taken by this Ministry to express its commitment to the cause of the elderly by giving national recognition to the distinguished institutions and individuals, who have rendered exemplary services in the field of senior citizens and to senior citizens who have made significant achievements in their life.
Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar, Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Ms. Pratima Bhaumik and Shri Ram Das Athawale, Secretary of the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri R. Subrahmanyam, distinguished awardees of Vayoshreshtha Samman and others were present on the occasion.