Delhi : In an attempt at improving social sector reforms, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday approved constitution of a National Council for Senior Citizens to advise the Central and state governments on issues related to the welfare of senior citizens and enhancement of their quality of life.
The Council will specially refer to policies, programmes and legislative measures, promotion of physical and financial security, health, independent, productive living and awareness generation and community mobilisation.
It will be chaired by the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister and will include the Minister of State in the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, oldest members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, representatives of five state governments (one each from the North, South, East, West and North-Eastern regions) and one union territory by rotation, five representatives each from senior citizens’ associations.
Other members include pensioners’ association, NGOs working for senior citizens and experts, and five senior citizens who have distinguished themselves in various fields.
The Council will be anchored in the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
According to 2001 census, the number of senior citizens (60 years and above) in India was 7.9 crore and the number is slated to grow substantially with better quality of life and better medical services at least in urban areas.
A study by the National Commission on Population projects that senior citizens will comprise 9.3 per cent by 2016, 10.7 per cent by 2021 and 12.40 per cent by 2026.
India today has the second largest population of senior citizens.
According to the UN, by 2050 about 20 per cent of India’s population is likely to be over 60 years.
Recognising the need for a national policy, the government launched the National Policy on Older Persons in 1999 which sought to address areas of concern like financial security, healthcare, shelter, education, welfare and protection of life and property and promote the concept of active ageing among the older population.