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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 27 December 2021

Contents

  1. The elderly are assets, not dependents
  2. What are the head and tailwinds in the economy?

The elderly are assets, not dependents

Context:

In the past few decades, concerns about “population explosion” have given way to joy about a “demographic dividend”. The latter is expected to give a push to economic growth due to the lower dependency ratio which results from having a larger proportion of the population in the working-age group.

Relevance:

GS-I: Indian Society, GS-II: Social Justice

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Elderly in India
  2. Challenges faced by Elderly in India
  3. Indian Government Schemes for Elderly
  4. Way Forward

Elderly in India

  • People aged 65 and over make up the elderly population. The total elderly and youth population, given as a percentage of the total population, is used to compute the proportion of the dependent population.
  • India is now reaping the benefits of its demographic dividend. However, by 2050, the age group over 65 will be the fastest-growing age group.
  • The average annual growth rate of the elderly population as compared to the Population Census 2011 is 3.28 per cent.
  • In 2031, the old population as a percentage of the overall population is expected to reach 13.1%.
  • The old-age dependency ratio is expected to rise to 15.7 percent and 20.1 percent in 2021 and 2031, respectively.

Challenges faced by Elderly in India

  • Large Aging Population: India’s life expectancy has increased from 50 years (1970-75) to 70 years (2014-18), resulting in a population of 137 million elders (those aged 60 and above). It is anticipated to climb by 40% to 195 million in 2031 and 300 million by 2050.
  • Changing health-care needs: In general, the aged population need additional medical treatment from a variety of sources. The country’s main difficulty would be providing a wide range of high-quality, affordable, and accessible health and care services to the aged.
  • Lack of physical infrastructure: Physical infrastructure is a key constraint to delivering comfort to the elderly. Even in big cities, there are few facilities and professionals that can properly manage elderly health.
  • Population Explosion reaping “demographic dividend” benefits: The anxieties about “population explosion” have given way to delight about a “demographic dividend”. The “Asian Tigers,” which include South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as China, have demonstrated the advantages.
  • Financial insecurity: Many elderly individuals are capable and eager to work beyond the traditional retirement age, but there are few options. Furthermore, because so much is now done online or remotely, managing day-to-day money and planning for later life can be difficult for older generations.
  • Finding the right care provision: Many older persons require additional care when total independence is no longer possible. Family members can sometimes offer this care, but combining this with job and other family duties can put a lot of strain on the caregiver.
  • Socio Economic Challenges: Family neglect, poor education, socio-cultural attitudes and stigma, low faith in institutionalized health-care facilities, and cost aggravate the situation for the elderly. Inequity in health-care access exacerbates the challenges for the elderly As a result, the majority of them spend their lives neglected.
  • Unaffordable Healthcare: The vast majority of the seniors come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. They are unable to afford health treatment, and their health continues to deteriorate. Their inability to make a living accelerates the vicious cycle of bad health and exorbitant health bills.
  • Mental Issues: The elderly are not just economically unproductive, but also reliant on family or others for help. This exacerbates their mental and emotional difficulties. The government does offer programmes to help the elderly and address these challenges, but they are woefully inadequate.
  • Inadequate schemes: Despite the Ayushman Bharat plan, according to an NITI Aayog assessment, 400 million Indians are uninsured for medical expenditures. There is little doubt that a significant percentage of elderly are among the undiscovered. According to a status report filed by the government before the Supreme Court of India in 2019, 16 states and union territories (‘of 35’) lacked a single ward/bed dedicated to senior citizens.

Indian Government Schemes for Elderly

  • Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Scheme: This Prime Minister Senior Citizen Scheme has a ten-year policy duration and is designed for senior persons over the age of 60.
  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS): For those aged 60 to 79 years and above 80 years, the IGNOAPS provides financial assistance of up to $200 per month and $500 per month, respectively.
  • National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE): This programme was created to address the health problems that elders experience. Through the State Health Society, district-level aims include providing specialised health facilities in district hospitals, community health centres (CHC), primary health centres (PHC), and sub-centres (SC).
  • Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana: This programme gives physical assistance and assisted-living gadgets to older persons over the age of 60 who are BPL (below the poverty line).

 

Way Forward

  • We should look at elderly as a potential asset with a massive resource of experienced, knowledgeable people. Converting them from dependents to productive members of society depends on two primary factors: their health and their capabilities.
  • As senior citizens require the most diverse array of health-care services, the creation of adequate services for them will benefit all other age-groups. Considering the demographic trends, India should reimagine its entire health-care policy for the next few decades, with an elderly prioritized approach.
  • The National Digital Health Mission has tremendous potential to expand medical consultations into the interiors of the country. However, this requires a digital literacy campaign for senior citizens.
  • India needs to rapidly increase its public health-care spending, and invest heavily in the creation of well-equipped and staffed medical care facilities and home health-care and rehabilitation services.
  • We need to accelerate implementation of programmes such as the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE). The Ayushman Bharat and PM-JAY ecosystems need to be further expanded and similar, special health-care coverage schemes and services need to be created for senior citizens from the lower economic strata.

-Source: The Hindu


What are the head and tailwinds in the economy?

Context:

  • For India, the year gone by has been about rebuilding from the ravages of 2020 amid the COVID-19 storm which had pushed the already slowing economy into contraction mode.
  • The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth had dipped to a mere 3% in the fourth quarter of 2019-2020.
  • The pandemic-related lockdowns sent the stalling economy into free fall, causing output to shrink by 24.4% and 7.4% in the first two quarters of 2020-21, respectively. The resultant destruction meant that job and income losses coincided with the unfolding health crisis.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Indian Economy After Pandemic
  2. Sectors during Pandemic
  3. Way Forward

Indian Economy After Pandemic

  • An ambitious target was set for disinvestment from public sector enterprises backed by a new policy to retain a ‘bare minimum’ presence of state-owned firms even in strategic sectors.
  • The government explained that higher capital spending would trigger multiplier effects by nudging up demand in several sectors and spur job creation and consumption.
  • A K-shaped recovery is unfolding thanks to a divergence between those who needed to protect their lives and livelihoods.
  • While manufacturing and construction recovered, the economy’s overall output remained far below even the low pre-pandemic levels.
  • The recovery remains uneven and fragmented with economists also unconvinced about its sustainability.
  • Demand and investments were yet to see a meaningful and durable pick-up and any improvements were expected to be limited.
  • Gradual domestic economy had been grappling with low demand and a subdued investment climate.

Sectors during Pandemic

  • Agriculture is the only sector to record positive growth throughout the pandemic.
  • Sectors like manufacturing, mining, electricity, recovered above pre-COVID levels by September.
  • Employment-intensive sectors like construction, the contact-intensive trade and hotels industry, as well as financial services and real estate, continue to languish below their pre-pandemic levels.
  • There are some other interesting aspects of this year’s economic trajectory.
  • Wholesale price inflation has also hit an all-time high in the current series of the index, making input costs the number one worry for businesses.

Way Forward

  • Global growth is expected to fall to 4.5 percent in 2022, down from 5.6 percent this year, according to the OECD, with India’s growth forecasted to be 8.1 percent in 2022-23.
  • Returning to normal consumption patterns should boost industrial capacity utilisation rates and pave the way for a broad-based investment rebound by the end of 2022.
  • According to economists, the largest risk for the next year is greater inflation, as supply chain difficulties in essential components, unpredictable commodity and energy prices, and shipping interruptions are all expected to worsen at least in the first half of the year.

-Source: The Hindu

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