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New Delhi : The Vice President (VP) of India M Venkaiah Naidu on October 1, 2018, stressed on the need to respect and seek guidance of the elderly people. Calling them the conscious keepers of our society, he said that adequate steps must be taken to provide facilities to them. He was addressing a gathering after presenting Vayoshreshtha Samman Awards 2018 on the International Day of Elderly Persons here.

Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Ramdas Athawale, Krishan Pal Gurjar, Vijay Sampla and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President said that he would salute the wisdom and experience of the elders whose hard work and selfless sacrifices helped build this nation. I salute their struggle, their unique journeys and their success, he added. Naidu called on the authorities and all the people working for the welfare of senior citizens to avoid the use of the word ‘Old’ and replace it with ‘Senior’. He further said that there should be no ‘Old age Homes’ in India, there should only be ‘Homes for the Elderly and Senior Citizens’. The word ‘Old’ invokes a prejudice and does not do justice to the energy and youth of our veterans, he added, according to a PIB release.

Expressing concern over the rising incidents of neglect of elders, the Vice President said that rapid proliferation of nuclear families coupled with urbanisation of the society, inter-generational bonding has weakened. He stressed the need to safeguard and revive the joint family system and said that elders enjoyed a place of reverence under the system. Elders are the custodians of righteousness, traditions, family honour, samskar and wisdom and it is the responsibility of the present generation or the children of the family to play a greater role in ensuring the welfare of elderly persons, he added.

The exorbitant cost of medical expenses is a burden especially for elderly persons, said the Vice President as he suggested extending government healthcare schemes such as Ayushman Bharat to senior citizens. Quoting the 2011 Census data, he said that 8.6% of total population is above 60 year old and it is important to reach them and give them the facilities they need and the dignity they deserve. For this, the Vice President called for a special drive to include all the elderly people in affordable healthcare programmes. The processes of availing the benefits of such Government schemes should be easy and we cannot expect our elderly citizens to run around the office at that age to avail the benefits, he added.

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