Older people in Gujarat, India take action on International Day of Older Persons
Older people in India are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society. According to the last census in India, around three quarters of the older population were unable to read and write.
One third were living below the poverty line of one dollar a day, without adequate food, clothing, healthcare, psychosocial support or shelter. And about 90% of older people had no regular source of income.
According to estimates, up to 40% of older people living with their children faced some kind of abuse, although only one in six incidents are reported.
Food prices rising
In September 2011, older people's situation worsened. An affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court, claiming that "the poverty line of Rs 25 (USD 0.49) and Rs 32 (USD 0.63) per person per day in rural and urban areas respectively ensures the adequacy of private expenditure on food, health and education".
This could not have come at a worse time when food inflation is already pushing households headed by older people further into poverty.
What is more, there are 60 million tonnes of grain in Food Corporation of India (FCI) warehouses, implying that the government is hoarding grain to increase food prices.
Pensions and social security are desperately needed
Despite legal frameworks and social security schemes, the situation of older people is often grim. Implementing a universal pension would play a vital role in allowing older people to lead dignified lives.
Gujarat is one of the most developed states in India. However, older people's situation is a matter of concern since incidents of abuse and neglect are increasing day by day.
Older people active in changing their lives
But older people are not just sitting back and doing nothing about these challenges.
On 1 October, International Day of Older Persons, a meeting was organised in Idar block of Sabarkantha district as part of the Age Demands Action campaign. Over 550 older people from various villages participated and spoke out critically about the government social security schemes provided for them.
Later, older people took part in drama, singing and dancing activities. The whole day was great for raising awareness of the issues that older people face and involving the younger generation as well. The event was a great success!
You can see more photos from Age Demands Action around the world in the photogallery below!