A Predicament for the Future

India is the second most populous country in the world behind China. The population of India is estimated to be around 1.38 billion or 138 crore people in 2020, up from 136.6 crore people in 2019. In 2020, there were 71.7 crore males and 66.3 crore females living in India. By 2027, India will most likely over take China to become the most populous country in the world with 1.47 billion people. India’s population will peak in 2059 with 1.65 billion people according to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation (UN world population Prospectus 2019 dated 17 th May 2020).

According to a United Nations study, "The share of population world-wide over the age of 60 is projected to increase from 8 per cent to nearly 20 per cent in 2050.” Ageing of population is a direct consequence of the downward trends in fertility and mortality i.e., low birth rates coupled with long life expectancies. Even though India is among the youngest populated countries in the world we will also encounter the effects of such demographic shifts (i.e. an ageing population) over time.

This phenomenon of population ageing is becoming a major concern for policy makers all over the world, for both developed and developing countries. However, the problems arising from it will have different implications for underdeveloped, developing and developed countries. For a developing country like India, the size of the elderly population, i.e., persons above the age of 65yrs is likely to pose mounting pressures on various socio-economic fronts. This includes pension outlays, health care expenditures, fiscal discipline, savings levels etc. Additionally, this segment of population faces multiple medical and psychological problems. There is an emerging need to pay greater attention to ageing-related issues and to promote holistic policies and programmes that target solutions for our ageing society.

Puolomi Tripathi talking to economic times on April 17 th , 2019 said that as ageing is irreversible and inevitable, "we must better equip people in earlier age cohorts, so that they remain in good physical and mental health and continue their involvement in family and community throughout the ageing process. Fulfilling needs for services and social protection for senior citizens, protection of their rights and enabling them to contribute in the development process are priorities for India,"

We should learn from the experience of other countries, and focus on utilising our ageing population as a resource to resolve several societal issues. This has been proposed earlier by “encore.org”. Currently, India is experiencing a labour shortage - not enough qualified replacements are available to fill positions in manufacturing, utilities, transportation, government and agriculture, hospitality and gentle care, spirituality, culture and tradition etc.

Several surveys of HR professionals and hiring managers have found that workers over 50 or nearing age of retirement are viewed as having a number of positive qualities, including: loyalty, reliability and dedication, high levels of engagement, strong work ethic, job- related skills, including good communication skills, existing networks of professional and client contacts, broad work and life experiences. Research also shows that age is essentially unrelated to core task performance and that mature workers outperform younger workers in many areas. Seasoned employees understand the organization’s clients, internal workflows and processes, and lessons from past successes and failures. This knowledge can provide them with a competitive advantage. Having recognized this, some organizations actively recruit and hire experienced workers, including those who have retired from one of their competitors. As a shining example of this, Bhagwati Agarwal - a retired employee of encore.org – recently received an innovation purpose award for his post-retirement contributions to the Akash Ganga Project in Rajasthan. Recently Monster (an employment agency) partnered with employee review platforms to identify the top companies (rating as 4 or higher) for friendliness toward older colleagues and then highlighted the jobs they are hiring for on Monster – to attract the appropriate applicant pool. Aditi Merchant of Big & Mini, Austin, Texas, encore.org fellow is now focused on equipping people in younger age cohorts to help older employees remain engaged with the workplace. They bring older and younger people together to solve problems, bridge divides and create a better future for all. This company also helps retirees to stay in good health and involved in the community throughout the ageing process.

Dana Griffin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Eldera.ai, the global platform for wisdom sharing and intergenerational connection on a mission to tap into the time and wisdom of 1 billion elders around the world as a new natural resource for the next generation. Eldera is all about bringing back the Era of the Elders. She envisions Eldera as a virtual multigenerational village where kids benefit from social-emotional learning and increased resilience, elders benefit from a sense of purpose and expanded community, and most importantly everyone experiences more joy. Ikigai, the Japanese way of leading a purposeful and happy engaged life, principles can be adapted to Indian cultural norms, and used to enrich the lives of our aging population. The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted the lives of all of us, even more so the aging population and has adversely affected their socio, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.

There is an emerging need to pay greater attention to ageing-related issues and to promote holistic policies and programmes for dealing with an ageing society. Finding an engaging happy win-win solution for a spiritual philosophy-based country like India may set an example for other countries. Lessons from other countries around the world to engage and Honour ageing population will be discussed in the Indian context in my next article.

Director DPS and Pallavi Educational Institutions

Voluntary Counsellor Manodarpan and CBSE

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