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Old Framework, New Name: Centre Redraws Policy for Senior Citizens with ‘Emerging Trends’ in Mind

New Delhi: Claiming to frame a policy different from the national policy on older persons (NPOP), the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is drawing a special scheme for senior citizens that would incorporate issues such as “financial and food security, healthcare and nutrition, safety and security, housing and welfare”.

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ratan Lal Kataria in a reply to a question by Shrimati Shanta Chhetri in the Rajya Sabha said that the National Policy for Senior Citizens is being conceptualised “keeping in mind emerging trends in demographic, social-economic, technological and other relevant fields in the country”.

The NPOP was launched in 1999 for the welfare of elderly people. A ministerial brief notes that the policy intends to highlight concerns of older persons as “national concerns”. The policy also provides for protection against “abuse and exploitation” and intends to create opportunities for “development of potential of older persons, seek their participation and provide services.”

The NPOP’s “principal areas of intervention” in financial security, health care and nutrition, shelter, education, welfare, protection of life and property is similar to what is being claimed by the Ministry in the new policy.

When asked if the new policy is being introduced as an amendment to the ‘Rashtriya Vayoshi Yojana (RVY)’, the minister begged to differ. He pointed out that the RVY is a “scheme” that provides “aids and assisted living devices” free of cost to senior citizens suffering from “age related infirmities/disabilities and belong to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category.”

The Minister said that the scheme is intended to restore “near normalcy in their bodily function” vis a vis the purpose of the broad new policy.

Kataria’s revelation of this new policy comes at a time when the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill 2019 is set to be introduced in the Parliament in this session. The Bill aims to make life easier for senior citizens by amending the existing Act.

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