4 April 2016 – India
Arun Maira, Chairman of HelpAge International, gave an opinion on challenges of ageing population in India. From Maira’s point of view, older people can provide cohesion with tradition and bring together conflicting movements for ‘special causes’.
“In 1980, children (aged 0-14 years) were 39.2% of India’s population and the elderly (over 60 years) were 5.9%. By 2030, children will be 23.9% and the elderly will increase to 12.5%, i.e. 190 million people.
Further, India will have 330 million elderly people (19.4% of the population) by 2050. While India has a lot to do to catch up economically, challenges of an ageing population are already besetting India even while it is yet to adequately address other development challenges, especially adequate care of its women and children. How will the needs of increasing numbers of elderly persons be provided for when the demands of India’s youthful population are not yet met, and when there is insufficient capacity, financial and organizational, to meet them?
The solution is to see the elderly as a blessing, not a burden. The elderly are becoming the fastest growing, but underutilized resource available to humanity. Rather than putting them aside, physically (and mentally), to be cared for separately, they should be integrated into the lives of communities where they can make a substantial contribution to improving social conditions. The benefits of turning the ‘problem’ of the elderly into a ‘solution’ for other social problems is being demonstrated in several countries.”