Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi
* Conducted on 26/03/2009

Key Speakers

* Mr. Vinod Sharma, National Political Editor, Hindustan Times
* Mr. Pankaj Sharma, News Views India



Agewell is a consortium of over 1500 NGOs and 5000 volunteers spread across 540 districts of India, committed to provide a voice to older persons.

The experience of recently held assembly elections shows that the Indian democracy is in the process of entering a new paradigm – the election henceforth will be contested on the basis of issues that affect people in their day to day life. Voters have been more demanding. They know, once elected the government can do anything for them or to them. Ideological issues have taken a back seat. Interest groups demand fulfillment of their own agenda.

90 million older persons of India know that the manifesto proceeds the election time. It is in this context that the Agewell Foundation is addressing the voice of millions of older persons from across the country through this letter to you.

Cutting across caste and regional lines, one of the largest and potentially influential, yet ignored group of voters today is "Older Persons".

We request you to kindly consider the following facts:

· More than 8% of the total Indian population today consists of older persons (60+).

· Presently there are approx. 74 crores voters in India. Therefore the older persons automatically constitute approx. 12.5% of the voters.

· It is a well-known fact that the older persons have far more faith in democratic system and almost of 90% of older persons assert themselves by casting their votes.

· Statistics prove that the average number of total votes cast during any election is only 55 to 60 %. It is quite obvious that the so-called minority amongst the voters (i.e. older persons) constitute 20-22% of the actual voters.

While there are a number of schemes today for other disadvantaged groups, for some reasons, this particular group has been ignored by the most governments and parties. Therefore, it is indeed a group that is waiting to be tapped in taken into fold.

It is in this context, on behalf of the 90 million+ older persons from across the country, Agewell Foundation appeals to you to include issues that specifically concern the older persons in your election manifesto for the forthcoming general elections.

As per the latest study of Agewell Foundation’s Research & Advocacy Centre (for Needs and Rights of Older Persons) on Impact of Economic Slowdown on Older Persons of India, the following are the most emphatically important issues of concerns for older persons in our country today;

· Healthy and sustained financial support system for older persons.

· Focus on gerent logical research & healthcare assistance facility.

· A secure & firm social security network for older persons.

· Older persons -friendly policies at all levels of governance.

Further, we take this opportunity to submit our proposed and recommended initiatives for the welfare of Older Persons for further consideration and inclusion in your party’s election manifesto.

o Establishment of a National Institute for Aged on the lines of AIIMS for treatment and research in age related ailments.
o Setting up of separate department of geriatrics on similar lines in each of the existing/proposed AIIMS.
o Setting up of National Fund for the Aged (on the lines of National Fund for Rural Development).
o Issue of special identity cum credit cards for the Older Persons (credit could be linked to the amount deposited or pension dues.)
o Setting up of National Commission for the Aged. (on the lines of NHRC to advice various ministries/departments on Older Persons friendly programmes and policies and protect the interest of the aged)
o Prime Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme for the aged
o Setting up of a National Institute for Promotion of Entrepreneurship amongst the Aged.
o Setting up of Foundation for revitalization of traditions and oral knowledge.
o Enactment of Older Persons’ Justice Act.
o A scheme for establishing Aged women’s Hostel on the lines of working women Hostels in each district.
o Arrangement for Temporary shelters for the aged in each district.

We are sure, you would agree, your party’s commitment for the welfare of older persons through its manifesto would not only help highlight the problems being faced by older persons today but also reassure millions of older persons of the commitment of your party.

With all the best wishes for the forthcoming elections, we look up to you for your support in recognizing the needs of older persons.

Warm regards,

Himanshu Rath


Online Coverage (Role of Older Persons in Democratic Process),+Geography/Towns,+Cities,+Counties/New+Delhi/0c4zdHhdm77je/1

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