Social Planning Policies And Geriatric Health Sociology Essay Example
Social Planning Policies And Geriatric Health Sociology Essay Example

Social Planning Policies And Geriatric Health Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1765 words)
  • Published: August 23, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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India is currently encountering two challenges - a rising population and a growing number of elderly individuals. The proportion of elderly people in the total population is approximately 8.2%, leading to challenges for both households and the elderly themselves. It is imperative for the government to develop effective planning and policies in order to safeguard the geriatric population, ensuring a satisfactory old age. Nonetheless, it remains uncertain whether adequate security measures are in place to transform longevity into a positive experience rather than a burden. This paper utilizes secondary data analysis from a psycho-social standpoint.

According to this perspective, our health and lifespan are influenced by the social and political context and levels of inequality in society. Sociologists argue that community health directly affects individual health. To fulfill needs, there must be a communal foundation for rights and needs (Kevin, 2009). Key wor


ds: Social Policy, Social Planning, Elderly, Health, Social Security.


Aging is an inevitable part of life.

In India, the elderly population is going through a period that encompasses fulfillment, marginalization, and suffering. The number of older people has grown rapidly, indicating a demographic transition. As of 2001, there were 72 million individuals aged over 60 years old in India compared to China's 127 million (Rajan, 2003). This shift in demographics occurred swiftly in India due to a substantial decrease in mortality rates. Enhancements in nutrition, sanitation, and the implementation of curative and preventive medicine have all contributed significantly to the increase in lifespan within our nation.

According to Venkateswarlu (2003), old age is often associated with disability and illness, which can be worsened by neglect, poor economic status, social deprivation, and improper dietary habits. The Prime Minister

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of Thailand, Thanis Kraivixien, emphasized the importance of prioritizing a high quality of life and the happiness of its people in his inaugural address to the 30th WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia. He stated that good health is not only fundamental for development but should also be the ultimate goal of any development effort (Goel, 2005).

Social Planning

Planning involves making decisions and choices on how to effectively utilize available resources to achieve a specific purpose or objective. As per Jawaharlal Nehru's definition from Diana (1982), planning is using intelligence to address facts and situations as they are and find solutions. Initially focused on economic growth after Independence, developmental planning now encompasses broader aspects such as social, political, environmental considerations alongside economics (ibid).

The absence of security is humanity's deadliest enemy in their vulnerable and unstable existence. Millions of people live in terrible conditions, filled with uncertain horrors such as epidemics, famines, and unemployment-induced extreme poverty (Ahmad, 1999). While developed countries have government-funded programs that provide various forms of security, developing countries like India have limited social security schemes. The disparity in coverage and effectiveness can be attributed to factors such as disagreement over policies within responsible ministries or between agencies, hindering effective planning (Diana, 1982). Planners sometimes fail to consider social and cultural factors as well as the availability of resources for the target population which slows down goal achievement (ibid).

Unnecessary political interference from powerful regional parties exacerbates the problem by diverting funds and resources away from those who truly need them (Burgess, 1999). This limitation prevents individuals in need from exerting pressure through social, legal, and political processes.

Socio-Economic Profile of Elderly in India (NSS 52nd


The sex ratio among the elderly (Number of females per 1000 males) increased from 983 in 1987-88 to 1023 in 1995-96. About 40% of the elderly in India were employed for financial support. Around 70% relied on others for their daily care. Among females, approximately 85 to 87% were economically dependent either partially or fully. Of the previously employed elderly individuals, about 79% in rural areas and 35% in urban areas did not receive any retirement benefits. The majority, consisting of 78%, resided in rural areas, while only a minority of around 22% lived in urban areas.

The economic situation has improved for older individuals in cities but worsened in rural areas compared to the past. In urban settings, elderly people are more likely to have chronic diseases (55%) compared to those in rural areas (52%). On the other hand, the rate of employment is higher in rural countries (39%) than in urban countries. Specifically, only 16 out of every 1000 individuals have regular jobs in rural nations, while around 150 out of every 1000 individuals are part of the regular workforce in urban countries.

Health Security for Older Individuals

In India, societal and cultural shifts have resulted in a faster decline in birth rates, longer working lives, and an aging population. These changes have diverse consequences such as their impact on the average age of the working population, dependency ratios, and the increasing proportion of older adults to younger ones. However, the current economic structure does not align with these demographic trends.

The elderly population in India faces several challenges, including a decline in economic engagement, an increase in nuclearization of households, a fast-paced lifestyle among younger generations,

poor health conditions, lack of specialized care for geriatric issues, and a decrease in per capita healthcare spending.

In traditional Indian society, there is an emphasis on respecting and caring for the elderly as a responsibility. However, meeting their care needs requires economically stable households, strong intergenerational relationships, and affordable institutional care.

Unfortunately, many elderly individuals in India do not receive proper medical treatment due to the absence of a comprehensive health insurance strategy. This problem particularly affects the oldest age groups.

It is important to note that the informal sector plays a significant role in the Indian economy by contributing to around two-fifths of the country's GDP and providing support for approximately 90% of households.

The workers in the informal sectors are uneducated, unfortunate, and willing to work in unclean and dangerous conditions. This makes them vulnerable to diseases and chronic illnesses. They do not have a regular employer-employee relationship, which means they are not eligible for any social security benefits (Gumber, 2006). Only 9% of the working population in India is covered by some form of health insurance. Private plans offer broader coverage compared to the Employees State Insurance Scheme, but the existing voluntary health insurance programs only cover 55 to 67% of the total hospitalization costs, which puts a burden on the elderly and unemployed (ibid).

Social Security in India

Social Security provides benefit packages in terms of financial security and healthcare, not only for the subscriber but also for their entire family.

The Social Security system aims to provide ongoing assistance to households in various situations, such as retirement, death, or disability of the main earner. Its main objective is to help individuals plan for the future by

offering insurance and support. However, the effectiveness of these programs relies on the participation of both employees and employers (Government of India). In India, the traditional Joint Family system has consistently ensured security and fulfilled the needs of all its members.

The sense of unity and shared responsibility among family members and relations has always been important in meeting the specific needs and care required by the elderly and those in poor health. However, this dynamic has changed due to increasing migration, urbanization, and demographic changes. Large families have been replaced by smaller nuclear families, and women have also entered the workforce, moving away from traditional household roles. As a result, the formal social security system plays an essential role in providing support. Nevertheless, it is crucial to spread information and raise awareness to expand the coverage of Social Security programs.

In the Indian context, Social Security is a comprehensive approach aimed at preventing poverty, ensuring a basic minimum income for individuals and their dependents, and safeguarding against uncertainties. The State is primarily responsible for creating a suitable system to provide protection and assistance to the workforce. Social Security is increasingly seen as a crucial component of the development process, fostering a more favorable outlook on globalization and its associated structural and technological changes (Govt of India).

With the advent of industrialization, larger work organizations with more pronounced hierarchies have emerged worldwide. These organizations have focused on economic growth, productivity, and the periodic replacement of skills, ensuring that older workers are replaced by younger ones (Townsend, 1980). The concept of retirement has been widely embraced as a societal achievement in capitalist, socialist, and democratic nations. However, many active

seniors lament the cessation of economic activity and the loss of status (ibid). Simultaneously, society's perception of the productivity of older individuals has been influenced by changing technology, resulting in an overemphasis on the productive capacity of younger workers and an underestimation of that of older workers. Consequently, areas such as healthcare, security, policies, etc., assign the least priority to their needs (ibid).

India's elderly population, which makes up one eighth of the global elderly population, is currently at 80 million individuals (Swarup, 2008). This group is growing at a rate of 3.8% per year, surpassing the overall population growth rate of 1.8%. Unlike many other nations, most elderly people in India lack formal security plans and instead rely on their children or other family members for support. However, societal changes have made these support systems increasingly unreliable in ensuring a safe and dignified life for older adults (Swarup, 2008).

Regrettably, India is currently facing social problems like poverty and unemployment that hinder the government from providing pensions to all senior citizens (ibid).

In India, the Pension Policy primarily involves the involvement of employers and employees, which excludes a large number of workers in the unorganized sector. Some of the laws enacted in India for social security are:

  1. The Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESI Act)
  2. The Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act
  3. The Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923
  4. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972

ESIS, maintaining the international classification of disease profiles, provides coverage for individuals with long-term diseases. The government of

India has also developed action plans to improve medical services. The growth of various informal sectors and organizations has forced uneducated and unskilled workers to participate in economic activities to meet their social needs.

The lack of support from institutions and widespread operational procedures have weakened their bargaining power and ability to fully utilize the Acts and laws established by the Government of India. In response, the government has implemented several societal security measures for them, including:

  1. Centrally funded Social Assistance Programme
  2. Social Insurance Scheme
  3. Social Assistance through Welfare Funds of Central and State Governments
  4. Public enterprises

However, doubts surround these strategies and policies. Firstly, they exclusively target individuals living in families below the poverty line. Additionally, the benefits received are insufficient to meet the basic needs of the affected population (Rajashekar, 2007).

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