Every day, senior citizens are dumped on the street by their own family members because they become helpless and hence, a “burden.” However, most of these elders refrain from taking stands either because of the lack of knowledge or the emotional attachment. This research deals with the ill-treatment of the elderly in India and the legal principles that are linked with it. Sadly, India still faces the vast majority of crimes against senior citizens, who are unaware of the actions they can take forth when encountering such an issue. This study sheds light upon the grave problem of seniors being pushed out onto the streets by their own relatives after crossing a certain age limit. It also shows the various amenities and improvements provided by the state governments in favor of the elderly.
A senior citizen includes anyone who is sixty years of age or above. According to the census of India 2001, there were over a hundred million elderly people in India. However, it is shocking to find that out of six people, one does not receive proper nutrition, one in every three citizens has bad health care, and among every two people, one does not receive respect from their family members. The multiple years and time spent by the seniors on their offsprings and other members of the family go down the drain as the minute they become helpless and dependent, they are kicked out onto the curb. Hence, to protect the elderly from such heinous circumstances, India has recognized this issue as part of a fundamental right, an initiative to safeguard the interests of any citizen above the age of sixty.
As one becomes older, a variety of challenges are faced, namely, physical and physiological, economic and psychological issues. Hence, the government ensures that there is positive discrimination faced by them by providing various concessions. In hospitals, senior citizens are provided concessions for the treatment of diseases that are common among them, like cardiac-related, kidney-related, joint-related, and eye-related issues. They are also given preference in reserving the hospital beds. To enable easier travel, the elderly are provided concessions in transport means. While traveling on a train, not only do the elderly get the concession, that is, forty percent for men and fifty percent for women but also ensures a separate line for booking and canceling the tickets as well as reserving the lower berths of the trains for them. Airplanes also provide amenities to senior citizens for an easier journey. In air India, elderly people in wheelchairs board the flight first and are also provided with fifty percent concessions. However, after the spring of the deadly pandemic, the government has decided to stop the concessions to reduce the number of unnecessary travelling. Other than travel, even in post offices and private banks, various facilities are supplied to them, like the higher rates on savings plans. The government also ensures the issuing of a provision for housing structures like old age homes and centers for conducting recreational and educational activities. These activities, which are also witnessed in retirement homes, present an overall improvement in the mental and physical wellbeing of the individual.
It is estimated that by the year 2025, the elder to young ratio will exceed, and by 2050, the number will pass two billion. In India, over the span of fifty years, ranging from 1951 to 2001, the number of senior citizens increased from 2 to 7.2 crores. To calculate in terms of percentage, the elders amounted to around eight percent of the total population of the country. It is thus estimated that by the year 2025, this estimation will even pass eighteen percentage.
However, in spite of being in such large numbers, the crimes against these seniors have also increased to a large extent. According to an NGO, Agewell Foundation, around seventy-one percent of the senior citizens have faced humiliation from their other family members., relatives. According to another report brought forth by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2016, the crimes from 2014 to 2015 increased to ten percent.
Hence, noting down these rising issues, the government included added protection to the elderly by introducing it to the constitution. Articles 41 and 46 in chapter IV of the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution serve the very purpose of safeguarding any elderly victims from any mistreatment and providing assistance to lead a safe and peaceful life even after retirement. Article 41 ensures aid in situations involved with unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement. Article 46 encourages special help in the fields of education and economy and also shields the elderly from any form of social injustice and exploitation faced. However, the downfall is that as these laws are placed under the directives, they cannot be enforced by any court of law. According to article 37, the directive principles are necessary for governance, and the state is obliged to apply these principles in the law-making process. However, the government did not do any act that could directly link to the senior citizens.
To improve the situation of the senior citizens, the government, on 13th January 1999, introduced the National Council of Senior Citizens. This policy provides numerous services that prove to be beneficial to the elderly. It focuses on a few factors, namely, ensuring supplying of pension even to unorganized sectors, assisting in the construction of retirement homes, establishing resource centers and reemployment bureaus, providing concessions for transport facilities, supplying sufficient health care provisions.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment also introduced a new law, the Maintenance and Welfare Act of Parents and Senior Citizens act, 2019, which ensures that the elderly be treated with the respect that they deserve. This act is valid for the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh. It does not exempt the liability of children living abroad. Under this act, any senior who is unable to maintain himself from his earnings or the property owned by him gets relief(section 4). Any relative of the senior citizen is charged to keep an eye on the elderly. However, if the family members are not paying enough attention to the needs of these elders, they can seek aid from The Tribunal, which would help in providing relief (section 5). Abandoning elders is seen as a criminal offence, and any person who does so will either be imprisoned, maximum of three months or must pay a fine, a maximum of five thousand rupees, or will have to commit to both (section 24). however, this act also has several drawbacks. These amendments are only beneficial for those senior citizens that have children. Childless elders are disregarded in this act. This bill does not satisfy the needs of the poor as, despite the umpteen number of rest homes, the senior citizens are required to pay and stay. Another issue is that it does not look after the mental health issues that may occur as a result of the prevailing loneliness.
Materials and Methods: the data is collected through various online sites, which showed through a series of facts the grave situation that India is in. The statistics compiled helped me reach a conclusion necessary to help in the upliftment of this weaker section of society.
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