President Ram Nath Kovind today presented the ‘Vayoshreshtha Samman’ to senior citizens and institutions working for the welfare of the elderly at an event organised by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The president said that there is a healthy tradition of respecting and taking care of the elders in our country. “According to the last census, the population of senior citizens in our country was approximately 10.5 crore, which was about 8.5 per cent of our total population. “The average life expectancy has increased in recent decades due to improvement in health services and other reasons. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of senior citizens will be approximately 19 per cent of our total population,” Kovind said.
Mentioning that elderly people sometimes face neglect and are also abandoned, he opined that the age-old Indian tradition of a joint family should continue for the betterment of the society. The elderly should not only be respected at certain events, but due respect and regard should be given to them by their family members as well, the president said. The government has taken several steps for the welfare of the elderly which include the National Programme for Healthcare of the Elderly in which specialised services are provided for their treatment, he said.
Under the National Health Insurance Scheme implemented with the help of state governments, additional health insurance is being provided. Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot called upon the people to give due respect and regard to the elderly. The ‘Vayoshreshtha Samman’ will help motivate younger generations to understand the contribution of elderly people in building the society and the nation, he said. Gehlot invited suggestions from the people for the welfare of the elderly and asked eligible senior citizens to apply for the awards.
The ministry has been celebrating International Day of Older Persons since 2005 by conferring the ‘Vayoshreshtha Sammans’. In 2013, it was upgraded to a national award and this year the ministry honoured 22 awardees under 11 categories.