July 17, 2009

Agewell's Symposium "NEEDS & RIGHTS OF OLDER WOMEN"

23rd JULY 2009






July 16, 2009

If 50 is equal to 60, what would be 60 plus?

- A note by Agewell Volunteer (Mr. A H Krishnan)

If 50 is equal to 60, what would be 60 plus?

This is not a question meant for an elementary class. It is addressed to a larger audience of matured people. The question is imaginary. The numbers are not mere numerically. It needs a wider life span to experience the answer.

I recall the day when I was initiated to a similar question. It happened 40 years ago when I was an young man of 30 years. During my conversation with a cousin of mine whom I met at a family function asked her what her age was. She said she was forty, but people treat her as if she was much older, perhaps as old as her husband, who was fifty then. The reason being that she was the mother of two children, a fifteen year old grown up daughter and an eleven year old son. Her name was Rugmani. She was good looking, resonantly educated, intelligent, and she hailed from a small township Alleppey in Kerala. I told her I just could not understand the equation of 40 with 50.

The time-wheel kept rolling fast and always and after a decade gap we met once again at a family get-together. Rugmani was fifty then and had become a grandmother. Her husband had retired on superannuation at sixty. She asked me whether I knew how people referred them as – retired couple!

She further said that ever since her husband retired, her outings were mostly to temples and she had made it a habit to attend regular satsangs along with older women. Knowingly or unknowingly she was thus losing her ability to introspect and find out her own individuality.

I argued with her that it was her husband only who had retired and not she. ”How could 50 be equal to go? I queried her. “You can not get the status of a senior citizen at the age of 50, can you?” I questioned her. When Rugmani was in her sixties, she lost her husband. I went and met her to offer my condolences. She was looking much older then. She was quite withdrawn and lonely. Bother children were abroad. They wanted her to sell the house and stay with either o them, turn by turn (as and when they needed her?)

She was unable to take a decision of her own since she had never done so at any time in her life. When she was an unmarried girl, her parents were deciding what she should be doing. When she got married, her husband joined the team. When her children grew, they also started giving opinions in her matters. The society used to draw the guidelines. The social norms were different for men and women. Social norms were more generous to men. Women were made to lose their individuality much earlier in life compared to men. When women grew older, the controls on them were almost more, so much so that the society had even a dress code for them at each stage.

I told Rugmani that I was happy to see that she did not have any financial problems. There are many elderly women who are dependent on others. Her reply was “Yes, I am rich, but not in reality!” the house in which she was staying was in her name only and there were some more properties. But she could not sell any of them of her own if she needed money. Her children had told her not to take any such action without taking their opinions. Now that she was old, she would not like to oppose and antagonize them for the sake of money.

On the first day of April this year, Rugmani passed away. She was 81 years then. The final rites were performed by her children. I also visited the bereaved family to offer my condolence. Everyone was saying that Rugmani was lucky to have a peaceful death and she had lived a full life.

While returning, I was wondering whether Rugmani had ay unfulfilled desires. She never felt independent in her life. Her childhood, womanhood and old age were all ruled by external forces. Society was always pushing her forward, never allowing her to halt, relax and inhale the fragrance of independence at any stage. People treated her as a fifty year old when she was only 40, as sixty years when she was only 50 and declared her as an older persons when she was not so in reality.

It is our tradition to respect our elders. But our concerns for older persons look more theatrical now rather than genuine.

We want to empower our women. We have taken many steps towards this and have been successful to some extent, but there is still a long way to go, especially in the case of older women. Empowering women is possible if only we make them more independent. Give them proper education, provide them opportunities to grow and utilize their wisdom and experience when they are old.


July 6, 2009

Agewell Foundation on Budget 2009-10

“This is really a welcome budget for Older Persons” – Agewell

New Delhi, 6th July, 2009: Agewell Foundation an NGO working for the welfare of older persons across the country since 1999, appreciated the budget 2009-10 presented by the Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. The Foundation has especially welcomed the centre’s approval for long-standing demand of One-Rank-One-Pension Scheme for Ex-servicemen. Raising income tax exemption limit from Rs. 2.25 lakh to Rs. 2.40 lakh will benefit millions of middle class older persons.

Needless to say, Agewell Foundation had been struggling for One-Rank-One-Pension Scheme for Ex-servicemen for a long period. Advocating for this issue and garnering support for this cause, Agewell Foundation had also organized a Symposium on Role of Older Persons in Democratic Process – with special focus on One-Rank-One-Pension for Ex-servicemen in the month of April 2009, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi under its project Research & Advocacy Centre for Needs & Rights of Older Persons. In addition, Agewell had also submitted representations to concerned ministries and departments of Government of India regarding Older Persons friendly policies and schemes.

Appreciating the budget announcements, Mr. Himanshu Rath, Chairman, Agewell Foundation, said, “So far is older persons is concerned, this is laudable budget. Every section of older persons will certainly get something from this budget. With the provisions like One-Rank-One-Pension scheme financial security will be ensured for lakhs of ex-servicemen and their family members. In view of ever-increasing population of older persons in the country, government should make more older persons-friendly policies.”

Research & Advocacy Centre for Needs and Rights of Older Persons

Centre is committed to bringing in a dynamic change for the Older Persons in terms of social participation & integration, economic security, macro societal change and development, healthy ageing, enhancing the physical and mental quality of life. Recently Agewell has conducted surveys on Impact of Recession on Older Persons of India and Role of Older Persons in Democratic Process. While advocating for issues pertaining old age, Agewell has organized several symposiums over the years under the series of “Needs & Rights of Older Persons” at India Habitat Centre and India International Centre.

Agewell Foundation

Agewell is a consortium of over 1500 NGOs and 6300+ volunteers spread across 540 districts of India, committed to provide a voice to older persons. For more information, please visit our website www.agewellfoundation.org