Sunday, December 22, 2019

Indian law to protect rights of Seniors : Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Amendment Bill

India has a large aging population of senior citizen. There are over 135 million elderly people in India and by some accounts it has the second-largest population of senior citizens.

The Indian society is transforming at a fast pace, and joint family structure has given way to nuclear families with youngsters migrating to metros for opportunities, leaving behind their parents and elders. The traditional support systems where neighbors in a small town would keep an eye on the young and elderly has given way to large apartment complexes where neighbors hardly know each other.

Taking into account the continuously widening the gap between generations, Indian lawmakers have stepped in to ensure a conducive environment for the elderly. A “Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act” was passed in 2017.

Indian lawmakers have decided to amend the act with a proposed ‘Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Amendment Bill.’ The proposal is attempting to balance the traditional, moral responsibilities of families around a legal framework and has the following major salient features:
  1.  Definition of "children" and ‘parents’ has been expanded.
  2.   Definition of 'maintenance' and ‘welfare’ has been expanded.  
  3. Mode of submission of application for maintenance has been enlarged. 
  4. Ceiling of Rs.10,000/- as maintenance amount has been removed. 
  5. Preference to dispose of applications of senior citizens, above eighty years of age, early has been included.  
  6. Registration of Senior Citizens Care Homes/Homecare Service Agencies etc. have been included. 
  7. Minimum standards for senior citizen care homes has been included in the Bill.
  8. Appointment of Nodal Police Officers for Senior Citizens in every Police Station and District level Special Police Unit for Senior Citizens has been included.
  9. Maintenance of Helpline for Senior Citizens has been included.
Senior Citizen and those in online forums are excited about some of the amendments proposed. It is likely that the Amendment bill will pass the Indian parliament, after which some of these will be rolled out. However, it is unclear how and if the act will actually improve the plight of some of the 
135 million elderly people in India. 

I will try to blog some of the questions into a FAQ in my next post. In the meantime, you may check out some of my viewpoints on "Aging and caregiving in India" 

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