The National Policy on Older Persons was constituted in May 1999. The policy says that State Government will take action to provide facilities, concessions and relief to senior citizens to improve their quality of life, and also ensure that the existing public services are user-friendly to older people.
It extends support for financial security, health care, shelter, welfare and other needs of the elderly. It also provides protection against abuse and exploitation, and makes available opportunities for the development of potential of older people.
The main features of NPOP include:
- Financial Security
- Health Care and Nutrition
- Basic Facilities
- Research and Training
- The old age pension scheme, which provides 200rs per month to people aged 60-79 and 500rs to those above 80, covers all older persons below poverty line.
- Broadens pension scheme to include both public and private sectors.
- Exempts tax for medical and nursing care, transportation and support services for the elderly or the son or daughter with whom they are staying.
- The Public Distribution System that provides basic commodities at very cheap rates covers all the people above 60 and below the poverty line.
Health Care and Nutrition
- Gives a subsidy for health care needs to elderly poor. There is a graded system of user charges for others.
- Provides public health services and health insurance to ensure preventive, curative, restorative and rehabilitative needs of the older persons.
- Provides tax reliefs, grants, and land grants at concessional rates to NGOs and private hospitals to provide economical and specialized care for the older person.
- Sets up special elder care wards and runs training and orientation programs for elder care.
- Expands mental health services and counseling facilities for the elderly having mental health problems.
- Gives easy access to house loans and earmarks 10% of private and government housing schemes.
- Makes the layout of housing colonies sensitive to the needs of older people.
- Ensures the quick disposal of cases of property-transfer, mutation, property-tax etc.
- Ensures institutional care to the most vulnerable among the older persons such as poor, mentally and physically weak and those without family support.
- Sets up welfare funds for elder people with the help of Corporate Sector, trust, charities, individual donors and others.
- Provides identity cards, fare concessions, preference in reservation of seats, earmarking of seats in local public transport and priority in providing gas and telephone connections to the elderly.
- Aims to involve mass media as well as informal and traditional communication channels on ageing issues.
It supports NGOs and ensures transparency, accountability, simplification of procedures and timely release of grants for the NGOs working for elderly.
How is it helpful for elderly?
- This policy ensures the wellbeing of the elderly so that they do not become marginalized, unprotected or ignored.
- Ensures lower income tax rates for elderly, due to greater health expenditures.
- Emphasis is laid on increasing their access to quality health care services, which includes long-term management of illness as well as provision of nursing care, provision of quality affordable health services through subsidized user charges, insurance, etc.
- Ensures for the elderly an equal share in the benefits of development, as well as addresses the neglect of elderly women on age, widowhood and gender.
- Promotes an age-integrated society by adopting mechanisms for improving inter-generational ties so as to make the elderly a part and parcel of families/households.
- Considers the elderly as a resource by advocating their inclusion within the family, community and society.
- Gives specific productive roles and opportunities for the elderly.
- Views the elderly as an agency which needs to be empowered, with regard to their voice and representation in the electoral sphere.
This policy has resulted in the launch of new schemes such as:
- Strengthening of primary health care system, enabling it to meet the health care needs of older persons.
- Training and orientation to medical and paramedical personnel in health care of the elderly.
- Promotion of the concept of healthy ageing.
- Assistance to societies for production and distribution of material on elder care.
- Provision of separate queues and reservation of beds for elderly patients in hospitals.
- Extended coverage under the Antyodaya Scheme with emphasis on provision of food at subsidized rates for the benefit of older persons especially the destitute and marginalized sections.