New Delhi: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday launched a national helpline and portal for the senior citizens at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday.
The Elder Line at 14567 helpline was set up by the government of India in collaboration with Tata trust and will function 12 hours a day to resolve the grievances of senior citizens from across the country. Meanwhile, the Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity (SACRED) portal will enable the senior citizens to connect with job providers in the private sector.
Referring to the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) report-2020, Naidu said that more than 50% of senior citizens are active and therefore, it is very important to provide gainful employment opportunities to them for a happy, healthy, empowered and self-reliant life.
Highlighting that our elders have a vast repository of experience and expertise, he urged the private sector to join the new portal and get benefitted from the skills and experience of our senior citizens.
The Vice President also urged India's young start-ups to come up with innovative and out-of-box solutions to the everyday problems faced by the elderly. "Taking care of the elderly should not be the responsibility of the government alone and each one of us should come forward and join this noble cause," he said.
International Day of Older Persons
Notably, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution to observe October 1, 1999 as the International Day of Older Persons and since then, the 1st day of October every year is celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons, worldwide.
Naidu conferred the Vayoshreshtha Samman-2021 on the eminent senior citizens in recognition of their services towards the cause of the elderly persons on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons. Congratulating all the institutions and individuals who were honoured yesterday with the 'National Award- Vayoshreshtha Samman 2021', Naidu said that their work will inspire others to follow the path of service.
United Nations International Day of Older Persons theme for 2021 was 'Digital Equity for All Ages'. Referring to the theme, the Vice President emphasised the need for increasing digital literacy among our senior citizens. He called upon the younger generation to take the lead in this regard and educate the elders in their family and neighbourhood on the use of digital devices. This will go a long way in empowering them, he added.
Effects of COVID-19 pandemic
Noting the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected everyone including the senior citizens, Naidu called upon the civil society and voluntary organisations to act as a support system to the elderly and supplement the efforts of the Government and its agencies. "They can play a proactive role in generating awareness on the problems of elderly people and help in strengthening intergenerational bonding," he said.
Observing that the elderly population in India is projected to reach about 14.9 per cent by the year 2036, Naidu recalled India's rich tradition of respecting and caring for the elderly.
"Under the Joint Family System, they enjoyed a place of reverence and influence, guiding and advising the younger generations on the strength of their knowledge, wisdom and long years of experience," he said.
Noting that with changing times and erosion of the traditional values, he said that these days many of our young children do not get the privilege of enjoying the tender care, love, affection and guidance of the older generations as was available to us in our joint families.
Referring to the various challenges in the wellbeing of the elderly, Naidu said that the Government and Parliament are taking necessary initiatives to create the right policy framework for the care of the elderly. He called upon state governments and local bodies to proactively follow up and implement these programmes.
Emphasising the need to sensitize society towards the challenges faced by the elderly, he appealed to media and NGOs to take up sensitization drives to educate people in this regard. He also suggested that wherever needed, senior citizens should be imparted training to upgrade their skills.