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     Home > Culture and Society  >  2014-02-22 16:11:17
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An 'aging' India that does not care for its elderly



Mumbai, 22 February 2014: By 2021 India could have 140 million elderly, but not the ability (or willingness) to take care of them. The warning comes from the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) , at the conclusion of their plenary assembly on "Ageing and Disability" (20-21 February), held at Rome's Augustinian Patristic Institute. Pascoal Carvalho, a Catholic physician in Mumbai and member of the PAV told AsiaNews: "We foused on scientific, medical and ethical issues associated with aging, a problem that is extremely relevant and topical for India".

Carvalho noted that "currently, India has the second largest elderly population in the world [after China, ed.. The size of elderly population has risen from 12.1 million in 1901 to 77 million in 2001. It is predicted the number will grow 140 million in 2021. India's demographic structure is expected to shift dramatically from 'a young to an aging population' resulting in 316 million elderly persons by 2050.

The change , however, is not just a question of numbers . Indian society is progressively abandoning the traditional "extended family" - where the adult children cared for (even though they live together) all the elders of the house - while so-called "nuclear families" are proliferating. The elderly often find themselves alone, with no one to care for them, and without help from the state. This is conformed by the Global Age Watch Index (Gawi), which ranks 91 countries (from best to worst) according to the conditions of life of the elderly. India is 73rd.

"This is - Dr. Carvalho told AsiaNews - because the government always ignores the rights and needs of the elderly. Authorities should extend the right to a retirement pension, so that these people can live with dignity".
Source: AsiaNews

Joseph Paimpallikunnal


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