New Delhi: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment organised VAYO NAMAN Programme on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today. In this programme, the Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu presented Vayoshreshtha Samman-2021 to senior citizens. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment celebrates International Day of Older Persons every year on 1st October for the cause of elderly persons.
Apart from dedicating an Elderly Line 14567 to the Nation, Shri M. Venkaiah also launched two portals – SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) and SACRED (Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity) on this occasion. While the SAGE portal, designed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, aims to encourage entrepreneurs in the area of elderly care the SACRED portal will connect the senior citizens with job providers in the private sector. The Vice President praised these portals as a timely intervention by the Ministry.
Addressing the gathering on this occasion, the Vice President lauded the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the launch of three major initiatives for the welfare of elderly. “Your consistent efforts to ensure a dignified and comfortable life for the elders are indeed laudable,” Shri Naidu said.
Lauding the institutions and individuals who have rendered outstanding services to the cause of the elderly, the Vice President said, “The recognition of their outstanding achievements in the form of Vayoshreshtha Samman will serve to motivate them for further continuance of their good efforts and will be an encouragement to others to emulate them as role models.”
The Vice President urged India’s young start-ups to come up with innovative and out-of-box solutions to the everyday problems faced by the elderly. He said that taking care of the elderly persons should not be the responsibility of the government alone and each one of us should come forward and join this noble cause.
Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said that he would prefer to call our senior citizens as ‘elders’ rather than ‘older persons’. Referring to the LASI report-2020, he said that more than 50% of senior citizens are active and therefore, it is very important to provide gainful employment opportunities to them for a happy, healthy, empowered and self-reliant life. Highlighting that our elders are the vast repository of experience and expertise, he urged the private sector to join the new SACRED portal and get benefitted from the skills and experience of our senior citizens.
Noting that our senior citizens are a highly vulnerable group, the Vice President called for an easy and efficient grievance redress mechanism to protect them. In this regard, he lauded the launch of the Elderly Line 14567. The helpline, set up by the Government in collaboration with Tata trust, will function 12 hours a day to resolve the grievances of senior citizens from across the country.
Referring to the theme for United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2021 which is ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’, the Vice President emphasized the need for increasing digital literacy among our senior citizens. He called upon the younger generation to take the lead in this regard and educate the elders in their family and neighbourhood on the use of digital devices. This will go a long way in empowering them, he added.
It may be noted that the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution to observe 1st October 1999 as the International Day of Older Persons and since then, the 1st day of October every year is celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons, worldwide. On this occasion, the Government of India confers ‘National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman’ on eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their service towards elderly persons.
Noting the COVID pandemic has severely affected everyone including the senior citizens, Shri Naidu called upon the civil society and voluntary organisations to act as a support system to the elderly and supplement the efforts of the Government and its agencies. “The civil society and voluntary organisations can play a proactive role in generating awareness on the problems of elderly people and help in strengthening intergenerational bonding,” he said.
Referring to the challenges faced by the elderly, Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the Government and Parliament are taking necessary initiatives to create the right policy framework for the care of the elderly. He emphasized the need to sensitize the society towards the challenges faced by the elderly and appealed to media and NGOs to take up sensitization drives to educate people in this regard.
In his address, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr. Virendra Kumar listed various initiatives taken by the Government for the welfare of elderly and assured that the Central Government is making every effort to ensure that the ever-increasing number of the elderly population is well taken care of by their own family and also by the society.
On this occasion, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ms. Pratima Bhaumik said that the institution of the National Award-Vayoshreshtha Samman is a major initiative taken by this Ministry to express its commitment to the cause of the elderly by giving national recognition to the distinguished institutions and individuals, who have rendered exemplary services in the field of senior citizens and to senior citizens who have made significant achievements in their life.
Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Ram Das Athawale and Shri A. Narayanaswamy, Secretary of the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri R. Subrahmanyam, Additional Secretary of the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Smt. Upma Srivastava, distinguished awardees of Vayoshreshtha Samman and others were present on the occasion.