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Meeting of National Council for Older Persons today
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Meeting of National Council for Older Persons today

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar will chair the meeting of the National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) here this afternoon.

New Delhi, May 15 : Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar will chair the meeting of the National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) here this afternoon.

There has been a steady rise in the population of older persons in India over the past few decades.

The life expectancy, which was around 29 years in 1947, is now closer to 65 years. The same is expected to increase to 71 years by 2026.

The number of older persons in the population is expected to increase by more than double from 71 million in 2001 to 173 million in 2026 - an increase in their share to the total population from 6.9 to 12.4 percent.

Availability of advanced medical facilities, better quality of life and increased nutrition intake has contributed to this phenomenon of demographic ageing. The trend clearly reveals that ageing has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection for the older persons.

Keeping in view of the importance of this demographic ageing, the Government announced the National Policy on Older Persons which, inter-alia visualizes support for financial security, health care and nutrition, shelter, emphasis upon education, training and information needs, provision of appropriate concessions and discounts to senior citizens and special attention to protect and strengthen their legal rights such as to safeguard their life and property. It recognizes persons as 60+ as senior citizens.

The Government constituted a (NCOP) under the Chairmanship of Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment to advise and aid the Government on policies and programmes for older persons and also to provide feedback to the Government on the implementation of the National Policy on Older Persons as well as on specific programme initiatives for older persons.

The NCOP is the highest body to advice and coordinate with the Government in the formulation and implementation of policy and programmes for the welfare of the aged.

The NCOP has been reconstituted in 2005 on completion of the term of the earlier Council. At present, there are 44 members in the Council, consisting of representatives of Central Ministries, State Governments, NGOs and experts in the field of ageing.

In recent times, society is witnessing withering of the joint family system, as a result of which a large number of parents are not being looked after by their children. Many older persons, particularly widowed women are now forced to spend their twilight years all alone, having been abandoned by their children.

To address these problems being faced by the parents and the elderly, this Ministry formulated a legislation in the name of "Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill - 2007" which inter-alia contains provisions for providing maintenance to the parents and senior citizens by their families.

Providing of better health facilities, care, protection of life and property to the senior citizens are some of the other mail provisions of the Bill.

Though the above Bill contains provisions on medical facilities for senior citizens, it also important to ensure that there appropriate Health Insurance Schemes, which offers protection to the senior citizens from the exorbitant medical expenditure are available to the senior citizens.

There has been persistent demand from the senior citizens associations for formulating such insurance policies. Taking into consideration of the situation, the National Insurance Company came up with Varistha Mediclaim policy for the senior citizens last year. The other three public sector insurance companies will also offer similar products to the senior citizens.

Meeting of the National Council on Older Persons have been convened on June 15, 2007 to discuss the "Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill - 2007" and the recent budget announcements namely introduction of new financial product namely "reverse mortgage" for senior citizens and the new health insurance schemes for the older persons to be offered by the public sector insurance companies.


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