Bhubaneswar, Oct 26 (LocalWire) Neglect by children and the feeling of unworthiness in old age pushed senior citizens into a sense of helplessness which called for robust implementation of legislation to safeguard their interests, speakers said at a national consultative conclave here.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act was adopted in 2007 to ensure maintenance and care of parents and senior citizens but those in authority should ensure that it was effectively implemented both in urban and rural areas, Justice M.M.Das, former Judge of Orissa High Court said yesterday while addressing the conclave on ‘Strengthening the Protection of Human Rights of Old Persons’ organized at the SOA Deemed to be University.
Justice Das said elderly couples today lived alone in apartments with their children employed in other cities or abroad causing them to fend for themselves in old age.
“Often the children even don’t turn up for the last rites when they die,” he said.
The legislation favouring the senior citizens had prescribed steps for the elderly people to approach the authorities for legal assistance without having to pay court fees while a time limit was fixed for disposal of their petitions, Justice Das said.
“However, the quantum of maintenance amount fixed was low and I hope necessary amendment should be made to fix the maintenance appropriately,” he said adding there was need for improvement in the functioning of cells set up for extending social protection to the elderly.
Justice Das said an international standard needed to be put in place for extending protection to the elderly.
The conclave was jointly organised by the SOA National Institute of Law (SNIL), faculty of legal studies of SOA, and Peoples’ Cultural Centre (PECUC). Prof. S.A.K.Azad, Dean of SNIL, also addressed the gathering as also the institute’s professors, Prof. Jayadev Pati and Prof. Prabir Patnaik.
Addressing the programme, Ranjan Kumar Mohanty, Secretary of PECUC, said it was important to guarantee old persons access to the justice system. The conclave, he said, would throw up ideas and suggestions to improve the present system.
Bharati Chakra, who represented Helpage India, said the elderly constituted 10 per cent of India’s population which was set to be doubled by 2025.
The old people, she said, were vulnerable and needed the love and care of the younger generation.
Unfortunately, the intrusion of the digital technology had greatly impaired personal relationship between the elderly and the younger generation.
“Those in the family who are digitally connected spend most part of the day with their gadgets while ignoring the elderly at a time when they badly needed the company of near and dear ones,” she said.
HelpAge India, Chakra said, was focusing on this issue and had coined a slogan “Disconnect to Connect.”
Quoting Mother Teresa, she said “Loneliness is the biggest poverty in the world” adding “we need to disconnect from the digital life to connect with the persons in our home who longed for our companionship.”
She said old people were vulnerable due to their advancing age and suffered from psychological, economic and social vulnerability.
Eminent Journalist, Sandeep Sahu, who also addressed the conclave, said time had come to examine whether the legislations enacted for the elderly were truly helping them or not.
Besides, steps should be taken to make them aware about their legal rights, he said.