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UNFPA REPORT ON ELDERLY POPULATION IN INDIA


Why is it in the news?

  • The United Nations Population Fund, India (UNFPA), predicts significant demographic changes in India’s aging population by 2050.
  • The report serves as a valuable resource for scholars, policymakers, program managers, and stakeholders involved in elder care in India.
  • Data sources for the report include the 2011 Census, the 2017-18 Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI), population projections, and various government reports.

More about the Report

  • According to the report, India’s elderly population is growing at a decadal growth rate of 41%.
  • The report suggests that by 2046, the elderly population may surpass the population of children (aged 0 to 15 years) in India and by 2050, the elderly population is projected to exceed 20% of the total population.
  • Further, over 40% of India’s elderly population falls into the poorest wealth quintile, with about 18.7% living without an income, potentially affecting their quality of life and healthcare utilization.
  • The population of people aged 80 and above is expected to grow by approximately 279% between 2022 and 2050, with a predominance of widowed and highly dependent elderly women.
  • The report highlights the feminization and ruralisation of India’s aging population and emphasizes the need for gender-specific policies to address their unique needs.
  • Inter-State variations exist in the absolute levels and growth of the elderly population, reflecting different demographic transition stages.
  • Some states in southern and northern regions have a higher share of the elderly population than the national average. Central and northeastern regions have a younger population.
  • Women in India have higher life expectancy at ages 60 and 80 compared to men, with regional variations.
  • The sex ratio among the elderly has been increasing steadily since 1991, with women outnumbering men in survival after 60 years.

Suggestions

  • The report calls for increased awareness of schemes for older persons, regulation of Old Age Homes, and facilitating in-situ aging.
  • It suggests encouraging the creation of elderly self-help groups and promoting multigenerational households.
  • The report recommends including questions related to older persons in data collection exercises to gather credible data.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, many older people felt that state aid was insufficient, and there were challenges in accessing public healthcare facilities.
  • The report calls for a special focus on older persons in disaster-preparedness plans.
  • Women in India have higher life expectancy at ages 60 and 80 compared to men, with regional variations.
  • The sex ratio among the elderly has been increasing steadily since 1991, with women outnumbering men in survival after 60 years.
Government Initiatives Related to the Welfare of Senior Citizens

National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP)

  • Introduced in 1999 to ensure the well-being of older persons.
  • Envisages state support for financial and food security, healthcare, shelter, and other needs.
  • Aims to protect against abuse and exploitation and enhance the quality of life for senior citizens.

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY)

  • A Central Sector Scheme funded by the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund.
  • Provides aids and assistive living devices to senior citizens in the BPL category or those earning less than ₹15,000 per month with age-related disabilities.

Elderline (National Helpline for Senior Citizen)

  • Established in 2021 to address the grievances of elders.
  • Offers services to senior citizens through a toll-free number (14567).

 Seniorcare Ageing Growth Engine (SAGE)

  • Launched in 2021 to support innovative startups in developing solutions for the elderly.
  • Provides equity support of up to ₹1 crore per project to eligible startups.

Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana

  • Includes awareness and sensitization programs involving school and college students to strengthen inter-generational bonding.
  • Aims to provide information and educational material about the aging process.
UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)

·       It operates as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly and functions as a sexual and reproductive health agency.

·       The mandate of UNFPA is established by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

·       It was initially established as a trust fund in 1967 and commenced operations in 1969. In 1987, it was officially renamed the United Nations Population Fund while retaining the abbreviation UNFPA.

·       UNFPA works directly to address Sustainable Development Goals related to health (SDG3), education (SDG4), and gender equality (SDG5).

·       UNFPA is not funded by the UN budget; instead, it relies entirely on voluntary contributions from donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, foundations, and individuals.

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