Attitude towards elderly needs to be changed: Sibal

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New Delhi, Oct 1 (UNI) Underscoring the need for change in the attitude towards the people who are in their ''sunset years'', Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal today made an impassioned plea to the younger generation to be sensitive towards older people and realise ''what building blocks to be built'' for the future at a time when societal structure was being torn apart.

Addressing a function here marking International Day of Older Persons, Mr Sibal said, ''Old age is normally associated with disability and illness. This attitude of ours is not sensitive and needs to be changed. We must see that the dignity of older people is maintained at every cost.

''As we grow older we need not despair, we have to move on as we are sort of in the midst of a journey. By the year 2030, there will be 200 million elderly people in the country. So, it is time the younger generation realised what building blocks are to be built so that older people can be well taken care of when we reach that stage,'' he emphasised.

He said in these times families were being disintegrated not only in urban areas but also in rural ones as members of them are heading towards cities to seek better sources of livelihoods. ''So, there are no younger people at home to take care of the elderly,'' he bemoaned.

There should not be any particular policy for taking care of the elderly. Taking care of them should be part of the planning process and for that even states ought be sensitised, he implored.

''Efforts must be made that the elderly do not remain confined within the four walls of their homes just because of their disabilities and illnesses. Public places, railway stations and buses should be made in such a way so that older people can have access to them,'' suggested Mr Sibal, who himself turned 60 the other day and ''joined the club'' of senior citizens.

''Modes of entertainment should be explored for the ageing people and even though they are past their prime even they have every right to enjoy themselves and they should not get bored. Even the entertainment industry should come up with ways of providing them the kind of entertainment they seek and I assure that by that way, the industry would be making some great money,'' he noted.

The Minister demanded that those elderly who are abandoned by their family members have a quick relief procedure and for that special judges be appointed and free legal aid be given, in line of which he himself offered his free legal expertise when he was relieved of his duties from the government.

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