New Delhi, Nov 6 (IBNS) Senior citizens are likely to constitute 12.40% of the Indian population by 2026, according to a government report.
The first ever National Conference on Ageing was held by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment here on Tuesday.
Inaugurating the two-day conference, Union Minister Kumari Selja said: "During the course of this Conference, we will deliberate on important issues relating to senior citizens for further strengthening our efforts to strive for an inclusive society - a society that embraces all ages. Our Government believes that the interface between the State and the Social Institutions in the care of the elderly forms an important area of intervention and needs to be addressed comprehensively."
"It is a well-known fact that the 21st century is witnessing a gradual transition to an ageing society all over the world," she said.
"Ageing poses twin challenges. First, we need to ensure care and protection of the elderly so that they can lead a healthy, dignified and productive life. Second, the older people must be looked upon as partners in progress rather than as a burden on the society, which is the case if their existence is seen from the prism of contribution to the GDP," said the Minister.
As per the 2001 census, the total population of the Senior Citizens (60+) was 7.7 crore.
This was composed of 3.8 crore males and 3.9 crore females.
The population of the senior citizens thus constituted 7.5% of the total population in 2001. The final figures of the 2011 census on this subject are not out yet.
However, as per the Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections, constituted by the National Commission on Population in May 2006, and published by the Office of the Registrar General of India, this figure is projected to go up to 12.40% of the population by 2026.
"The social implications of this demographic shift will be profound," said Selja.
She said in order to improve the quality of life of the older persons, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is implementing a flagship scheme called the Integrated Programme for Older Persons since 1992.
Referring to challenges which need to be addressed on an urgent basis, Selja said: "The main problems faced by the senior citizens in the country are protection of their life and property, financial security, health care, protection against ill-treatment, productive engagement and care and support."
"The objectives of this Conference are to sensitize all stakeholders on the issues pertaining to ageing, review the various interventions of the Central Government and assess what more needs to be done.
"The State Governments, the UT Administrations as well as the NGOs and the Civil Society need to share the best practices and to draw up suitable recommendations for more effective implementation of the various programmes for the welfare of senior citizens," she said.