General Assembly General Assembly

9th Session of the Inter-Governmental Open Ended Working Group on Ageing

 

Agenda Item 5:

“Measures to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons”

 

Statement by 

Mr. Sushil Dhobal, Second Secretary

 

23 July 2018

 

Madam Chair,

 

My delegation looks forward to participating in constructive deliberations under your able leadership on this important subject.

 

Population aging has become a global phenomenon. It is one of the most significant demographic trends of the 21st century. Today one in eight persons globally is above 60 years of age and by 2050, that number of older persons is expected to rise to almost one in four persons.

 

Increasing life expectancy, coupled with declining fertility rates is persistently increasing the proportion of older persons in total population.

 

Longer life spans  are the result of scientific and socioeconomic development, especially in areas of modern medicines, healthcare, sanitation and nutrition.

 

While an ageing world poses a set of social and economic challenges, appropriate policies and actions can help individuals, families and societies to address these challenges and to harness the benefits of enrichments that older persons bestow to the society at large.

 

The National Policy on Senior Citizens reckons that by 2050, there will be over 300 million persons in India above the age of 60 years accounting for almost 20% of the population.

 

 

Madam Chair,

 

The priority themes for this year’s meeting is of utmost significance for my delegation.

 

Respect for and promotion of older person’s rights to exercise autonomy and enjoy independence in the conduct of their life is fundamental to ensuring their effective participation in the society as valued members. We believe that based on this common understanding of the principle of autonomy and independence, formulating nuanced policies based on cultural contexts and national realities would be necessary for fruitful endeavors.

 

In most countries traditionally there has been expectation as well as practice that families provide long-term care for older family members. While this is still the reality in many societies, economic migration and urbanization leading to progressive shift towards nuclear family structure, compels us to explore viable alternatives to this non-formal social security arrangement.  

 

We look forward to fruitful deliberations and exchange of best practices in these two focus areas.

 

 

Madam Chair,

 

The well-being of senior citizens is mandated in the Constitution of India under Article 41 which enjoins the State to make effective provision for securing the right to public assistance in cases of old age. The Right to Equality is guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right.

 

Pursuant to these provisions, India has undertaken a number of steps to safeguard the dignity of older persons particularly in the context of priority areas of the Madrid International Plan of Action, through a multi-stakeholder approach involving local bodies, communities and the civil society.

 

The National Policy on Older Persons mandates state support for older persons in areas of financial security, health care, shelter, protection against abuse and exploitation. The endeavor is to strengthen integration between generations and development of a formal and informal social support system, so that the capacity of the family to take care of older persons is strengthened and they continue to live in the family.

 

The policy seeks to reach out in particular to the bulk of senior citizens living in rural areas who are dependent on family bonds. Vulnerabilities of older women especially widows and requirements of ‘oldest old’ have been given special consideration.

 

The National Programme for Health Care of Elderly provides preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative services for older persons through health care facilities.

 

The challenges of providing long-term and palliative care are being addressed through community led initiatives such as training of neighbours as caregivers. Successful models of community ownership have worked wonders even in financially poor communities and provides an exemplar model of community-based palliative care for low-resource settings worldwide.

 

Pension schemes, free legal aid services, targeted insurance coverage and other facilities such as higher rates of interest on saving, tax rebates, travel discounts and reduced banking charges and preferential banking services contribute to ensuring dignified life for older persons.

 

A pension scheme for senior citizens has been launched by our Prime Minister to ensure assured rate of interest on small savings of older persons.

 

Financial assistance is provided to public and private entities to establish and maintain old age homes, recreation centers and mental healthcare facilities.

 

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007 provides the necessary legal framework for maintenance of older persons by their children, protection of property, as well as medical facilities and setting up of old age homes.

 

 

Madam Chair,

 

We will continue to actively participate in the discussions of the working group and at other UN forums on this important issue. There is need for greater exchange of views, sharing of experience and good practices to enhance our collective understanding to ensure life of dignity and independence of older persons.

 

 

I thank you, Madam Chair.