You are currently viewing Strategy for New India at 75:Inclusion- Senior Citizens

Strategy for New India at 75:Inclusion- Senior Citizens

  • On 15th August 2022, independent India will turn 75. In the lifespan of nations, India is still young. The best is surely yet to come. India’s youthful and aspirational population deserves a rapid transformation of the economy, which can deliver double-digit growth, jobs and prosperity to all.
  • The purpose of this, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, is to define clear objectives for 2022-23 in a  diverse range of 41 areas that recognize the progress already made; and challenges that remain; identify binding constraints in specific sectors; and suggest the way forward for achieving the stated objectives. 
  • The Strategy document has disaggregated the 41 sectors under four sections: drivers, infrastructure,  inclusion, and governance. 
  • The first section on drivers focuses on the engines of economic performance – in macroeconomic terms with chapters on growth and employment.
  • The section also discusses strategies for the doubling of farmers’ incomes; boosting Make in India; upgrading the science, technology and innovation ecosystem; and promoting sunrise sectors like fintech and tourism.
  • An annual rate of growth of 9 percent by 2022-23 is essential for generating sufficient jobs and achieving prosperity for all. Four key steps, among others, have been spelled out for achieving this GDP growth rate. These are:

a. Increase the investment rate as measured by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) from present 29 percent to 36 percent of GDP by 2022. About half of this increase must come from public investment which is slated to increase from 4 percent to 7 percent of GDP. Government savings have to move into positive territory. This sharp increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio will require significantly higher resource mobilization efforts as elaborated in the chapter on Growth.

b. In agriculture, emphasis must shift to converting farmers to ‘agripreneurs’ by further expanding e-National Agriculture Markets (e-NAMs) and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee  (APMC) Act with the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act. The creation of a unified national market, a freer export regime and the abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential for boosting agricultural growth.

c. A strong push would be given to `Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) techniques that reduce costs,  improve land quality and increase farmers’ incomes. This is a tested method for putting environmental carbon back into the land. Therefore, ZBNF allows India to significantly contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint.

d. To ensure maximum employment creation, codification of labour laws must be completed and a massive effort must be made to upscale apprenticeships.

  • The second section on infrastructure deals with the physical foundations of growth. A lot of progress has been made across all infrastructure sectors. This is crucial to enhancing the competitiveness of Indian business as also ensuring the citizens’ ease of living. Three key steps, among others, are:

a. Expediting the establishment of the Rail Development Authority (RDA), which is already approved. RDA  will advise or make informed decisions on an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanism for the railways. Investment in railways will be ramped up, including by monetising existing railway assets.

b. The share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways will be doubled. Initially,  viability gap funding will be provided until the infrastructure is fully developed. An IT-enabled platform would be developed for integrating different modes of transport and promoting multi-modal and digitised mobility.

c. With the completion of the Bharat Net programme in 2019, all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats will be digitally connected. In the next phase, the last mile connectivity to the individual villages will be completed. The aim will be to deliver all government services at the state, district, and gram panchayat level digitally by  2022-23, thereby eliminating the digital divide.

  • The section on inclusion deals with the urgent task of investing in the capabilities of all of India’s citizens. The three themes in this section revolve around the various dimensions of health, education, and mainstreaming of traditionally marginalized sections of the population. While there are multiple dimensions and pathways  contained in the chapters in this section, four key steps, among others, are:

a. Successfully implementing the Ayushman Bharat programme including the establishment of 150,000  health and wellness centres across the country, and rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya  Abhiyaan.

b. Upgrading the quality of the school education system and skills, including the creation of a new innovation ecosystem at the ground level by establishing at least 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs by 2020.

c. As already done in rural areas, affordable housing in urban areas will be given a huge push to improve workers’ living conditions and ensure equity while providing a strong impetus to economic growth.

d. Implementing strategies to achieve regional equity by focusing on the North-East region and successfully rolling out the Aspirational Districts Programme.

  • The final section on governance delves deep into how the tasks/business of government can be streamlined and reformed to achieve better outcomes. It involves a sharp focus on ensuring accountability and a shift to performance-based evaluation.
  • The government will revamp its data systems and analysis so that all policy interventions and decision-making are based on evidence and real-time data. This will yield efficient and

targeted delivery of services and justice to those who need them the most.

  • Three key steps, among others, are:

a. Implementing the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission as a prelude to appointing a successor for designing reforms in the changing context of emerging technologies and the growing complexity of the economy.

b. A new autonomous body, viz., the Arbitration Council of India, may be set up to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators to make the arbitration process cost-effective and speedy, and to pre-empt the need for court intervention.

c. The scope of the Swachh Bharat Mission may be expanded to cover initiatives for landfills, plastic waste and municipal waste and generating wealth from waste.

  • To achieve the goals of New India in 2022-23, it is important for the private sector, civil society and even individuals to draw up their own strategies to complement and supplement the steps the government intends to take. With the available tools of 21st-century technology, it should be possible to truly create a mass movement for development. With the Sankalp of all Indians, India will have Siddhi.

Check out our previous blogs on the Strategy for New India at 75:

Objective

  • To ensure a life of dignity, social security and safety for senior citizens, enabling them to actively participate in economic development and the nation-building process.

Current Situation

  • As per Census 2011, India had 10.38 crore senior citizens (60 years and above). Of this, 3.8 crores were above the age of 80 years. The share of the elderly in the population increased from 5.6 percent in 1961 to 8.6 percent in 2011. It is expected to increase to 20 percent of the population by 2050.
  • Senior citizens face several challenges. They are prone to chronic illness. However, access to institutional support and specialized medical care is skewed, with most of these concentrated in urban areas and out of reach for the large number of the elderly who live in rural areas.
  • The government has taken steps to provide various tax benefits to senior citizens including raising the basic exemption limit from INR 2.5 lakh to INR. 3 lakh, increasing the deduction for health insurance from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 as well as raising the deduction for bank interest from INR 10,000 to INR 50,000. The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana has also been launched to provide a maximum pension of INR 10,000 per month with an investment of INR 15 lakh.

Constraints

  • Poverty and lack of income security make it difficult to meet even basic needs like food, housing, healthcare, etc., for a large number of senior citizens.
  • There has been a rapid emergence of nuclear families and ageing parents living away from their children.
  • There is a shortage of well-trained personnel for delivering caregiving and other services for senior citizens.

Way Forward

  • Given the changing demographics and socio-economic needs, revise the National Policy for Older Persons. The policy should cover housing, income security, pension, and access to healthcare. It should also emphasize the concept of ‘aging in place or ‘aging in own home’.
  • Bring schemes pertaining to senior citizens under the restructured Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens. An integrated implementation and monitoring plan should be developed in consultation with stakeholders and the plan should be reviewed periodically by an inter-ministerial committee headed by the Secretary.
  • Bring the necessary amendments to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Older Persons Act, 2007, currently under consideration by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE).
  • Consider establishing an old age home in every district by 2020 and ensure adherence to minimum quality standards.
  • Expand the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly to all districts following a comprehensive evaluation of the scheme.
  • Prioritize the supply of aids and assistive devices for senior citizens below the poverty line.
  • Ensure a barrier-free environment in all public buildings, parks, etc., for the elderly.
  • Strengthen the National Institute of Social Defence and Regional Resource Training Centres to meet the rising demand for quality caregivers._