Social security for the elderly inadequate in India, says UN report

Nearly half of the aged people concerned about financial security


April 20, 2019

/ By / Kolkata

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Every second elderly person is concerned about their social security

Every second elderly person is concerned about their social security

A national study conducted by Agewell Foundation, titled Status of Social Security and Social Protection Floors in India (with Special Focus on Older Persons) March-2019, revealed that every second elderly person is concerned about their social security.

According to a study conducted by Agewell Research and Advocacy Centre for the United Nations, every second elderly person in India is concerned about his or her social and financial security. The report revealed that 51.9 pc of the respondents out of the 10,000 surveyed were not satisfied with the overall status of security schemes for older people in India. According to a 2017 report by the Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) and CRISIL, by 2050 every fifth Indian would be above the age of 60, which brings forth the question that can India provide financial protection for the expected demographic.

Indian government has focused on various plans and policies for social security schemes since independence but they were mostly focused on younger generations and issues like healthcare and disability. Old age social security was considered as a family subject, as most people lived with their children in old age. The rapid increase in population of senior citizens, the fast changing socio-economic conditions have led to government prioritizing old age related social security schemes.

The government has had a few schemes developed for them like Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens (IPSrC) for providing basic amenities at old age homes; Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) for senior citizens with age related disabilities; Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY), The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PNVVY) for pension schemes and National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) for health related issues.

Condition of financial and health schemes for elderly

India’s social security schemes cover mostly the organised sector workers, but it only comprises 8 pc of its workforce. Though the government had introduced new schemes to include the unorganised sector, it was observed that most of elderly people, particularly those aged above 80, face hindrances in availing those benefits due to lack of transportation, lack of caregivers and also a lack of awareness about the schemes being run for the well-being of older persons.

The findings of the study pointed out that, “55.1 pc respondents were found to disagree with the fact that in India, there are sufficient provisions for financial security of people. Only 34.8 pc respondents believe that there is good level of financial security in India while 10 pc respondents have no idea about the financial security and governmental schemes in India.” It also highlighted the fact that more than one-fourth of the respondents (27 pc) depend on their children or close relatives for their financial needs, whereas 16 pc of the respondents were found to be dependent on others.

According to the study “58.7 pc of the respondents disagreed with the fact that old-age pension schemes are working well in India; over 36.9 pc respondents had the opinion that disability benefit schemes, particularly for the elderly, are not satisfactory in India.” On being asked about the status of health insurance schemes for older persons in India, 58 pc of respondents said that it is not satisfactory.

“Government policies and our social norms are not at par so far as social security in old age is concerned. The condition of social security schemes is very depressing. The government must focus on social security schemes keeping in view the fast changing needs of the increasing population of older persons,” said the report.

Measures to be implemented

Based on their survey findings and observations, the Agewell Foundation has recommended the government to ensure maximum coverage under existing as well as new social schemes. There needs to be stable dedicated healthcare facilities in rural and semi-urban areas. They also recommended that old age pensions should be bench-marked to the increasing living costs and there should be some tax incentives for younger people tied to looking after dependent senior citizens. There should also be some kind of financial support for setting up network of caregivers for older persons at block level to look after older people living alone.

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