Thursday, Aug 29, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
Dr. Rangarajan was speaking at the launch of HelpAge India's `Join Hands' campaign to involve donor participants with HelpAge India's work at a function at Raj Bhavan. He underlined the need for institutional mechanisms to take care of the elderly, specially now that the traditional joint family system was breaking up. While a number of old age homes had come up in recent years, it was necessary to create an environment of care and affection in them.
He called on HelpAge India to provide the benefit of their long experience and wide ranging expertise in these matters to those who wished to set up old age homes or other services for the elderly but lacked the skills to do so.
Tracing the demographic trends in his speech, Dr. Rangarajan said that in another 14 years the number of people over the age of 60 in India would touch 113 million and by 2050 every fourth person would be over 60. This would place an `unbearable' burden on the community at large unless steps were taken to take care of them and also make them active in both the social and economic spheres.
Giving details of the work of HelpAge India, Joydeep Podder, Assistant Director-General, said that they ran a total of 500 old age homes in the country of which 11 were in Andhra Pradesh. They also had 13 income generation projects for the elderly in the State apart from conducting free cataract operations on 6,500 old people. In all, 2,900 destitute elderly were being given old age pensions under their `Adopt-a-Gran' scheme and more than a 1,000 elderly people were covered under their mobile medical units.
Mr. Podder added that the target of HelpAge India were the destitute elderly. He said that in India 73 per cent of the elderly lived below or just above the poverty line, which also implied that they were illiterate and undernourished. The only way they could earn their living was by sheer physical labour and it was this demographic section which HelpAge tried to help.
The function was followed by the Governor flagging off an `Inter-Generational Walkathon' in which school children and NCC cadets participated along with senior citizens.
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