Monday 2 September 2013

Are we neglecting the older generation of our country?

We've always been taught that we must respect our elders and it's of the utmost importance that we abide by what they tell us/teach us. We're privileged to be associated with a culture that treats elders as "gods" - "badon ko bhagwan ki tarah pujnaa chahiye".. These are the values that are instilled in us from a very young age. Having said that, let's focus upon a larger issue that our society is currently facing; are we neglecting our older generation?

Every other day in the news you can hear the news about crimes against older people, the news about older people being sent to old-age home and what not! Such kind of news is not only disturbing but has a huge impact on the society that we live in. It's easily understood that the example that is being set for the next generation isn't by any standards one to be proud of. We belong to a country that takes pride in respecting it's elders and treating them as gods, we're certainly forgetting our values and respect towards our elders.

A couple of days ago, I was in the market along with my father and we were coming out of a shoe shop. As I was coming out, I saw an old lady around 75 years old, walking with the help of a stick, alone and coming out of the shop. On the way out from the shop, I held the gate open for her and helped her to come out of the shop. She looked at me and said "thank you beta" and then said to my father "issne mere liye gate khole rakha, behut accha ladka hai". My father looked at me and I looked at the lady, I had no idea what to say, I just smiled. Now, consider this, is this where our society is going? Are we even hesitant to help the older generation, when they need us the most?

Having said the above, it's not that I've only seen the negatives. Take metro trains example for instance, I've often seen younger generations standing up and telling elders to please sit.. It's certainly g ood to see that we do "care". But still, it cannot be helped but talked about, what's really going wrong in the society? Sticking with metro, the previous example is a positive one but often older people stand up through their journey which certainly is very sad. Couldn't we have a separate metro train compartment for their convenience, is that asking for too much? I hope not. 

It's not like India is the only country which is having problems with the way it's older generation is getting treated. There are several other countries, in fact every country has got cases in regard to people from the older generation not being treated well or in other words, being treated with disrespect. 

We label our country as one to be "traditionally and ritually the strongest" in the world. We should abide by this, treating the older generation with respect isn't an option but must be the priority. Smallest of the things must be taken care of... 

Our laws must be changed as per the rapidly changing times. After retirement, the amount of pension given to the senior citizens must be raised as per the highly costly world that we're living in. Imagining a reasonable life in 5-10 lackh in today's world is highly unrealistic and in all fairness, a retired employee and an ethical one at that would by no means have more money than this. By this point of view, how can we rule out the possibility of one perhaps not even having a son or daughter, who would then be held responsible for them not being allowed to live a reasonable life style even after retirement? 

Going one step further and talking about facilities provided at public places. Railway stations or air ports for instance, do they have special facility for older people? My grandparents went to Bhopal last year and they were helped by the touring company from which we booked their ticket but more often than not, older people may not even be helped if they do not know how the system at air port works, I'm just pointing out an example. Similarly, railway stations as we all know in India are hugely crowded almost every month of year, in such situation it's not hard to imagine how much trouble it would be for an aged person/couple to travel alone. 

The last and the most important point is that of the health insurance. We must not overlook the fact that after retirement an average old couple might not even have sufficient money for a health insurance, in such cases, what should be done? My maternal grandfather has got health insurance provided by his company which is valid all throughout his life and is totally free, although only applicable in the city where he’s working i.e. (Bokaro). Why cannot something similar be done with all companies? These are just some genuine demands that must be fulfilled for the betterment of the older generation in our country.

Let's be a country that does not look upto other countries when it comes to treating it's older generation but is itself an example for other countries to apprehend the simple point that we are indeed a country that treats it's elders with respect and sees "god" in them. That's the kind of values we're grown up with and let's emphasize and deem with such values. 
Aditya Jha Author

Aditya Jha is 20 years old and has had a passion for writing since a young age. He has had the great honor of being published in the book "blank space", which featured his fictional short story "a writer's tale". He has also published 2 ebooks - Best.Generation.Ever. and An Iron Lady (Autobiography on his grandmother's life). He has great passion for speaking and is a Delhi University Debator - having won various laurels for his speaking.