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Budget: NGOs recommend creating separate ministry, special digital literacy scheme for elderly

Budget: NGOs recommend creating separate ministry, special digital literacy scheme for elderly
New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Setting up a separate ministry and creating special scheme on digital literacy for the elderly are among the recommendations made by some NGOs for the upcoming budget.

HelpAge India, a not-for-profit working for elder care, in its budgetary recommendations to the central government, sought a set of measures that should be undertaken in three core areas -- income and social security, health and geriatric care, and creating an enabling environment for elders.

In view of the consequences of the pandemic, the need for increased social and health security has been emphasised upon while adding new areas like encouraging family-based care giving and home care, and focus on digital literacy for senior citizens, it said.

Post pandemic, the digital divide has starkly increased for the elders. While all systems like banking, utility, health, and financial transactions are getting digitally-enabled under the Digital India/ eGovernance programme, the elderly are left behind struggling, it said.

There were also concerns about the isolation and neglect of elderly people in middle-class areas due to their inability to reconnect by digital means.

Considering the unique and varied needs of senior citizens, which is also the fastest growing segment of the population, the organisation has also requested for a separate ministry for elderly to address these specific immediate needs and plan a better future.

On the basis of its latest survey among 5,000 older people across the country, Agewell Foundation found that the budgetary provisions can address the issues concerning them to a larger extent.

According to its survey, 81 per cent of elderly respondents were found to be optimistic about the forthcoming budget and believed that the government will consider issues concerning them.

"On the basis of the ongoing interaction with a large number of older people, their family members, and caregivers on a daily basis, Agewell Foundation appeals to the finance minister and others concerned to make adequate elderly friendly provisions in the next budget," the foundation said in a statement.

It recommended provisions for setting up of skill training and retooling centres for the older people, providing GST exemption on services and products commonly used by them, providing nutrition kits to the those from BPL families, dedicated healthcare and online counselling services and special provisions in government schemes.

The Union Budget 2022-23 will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday. RHL


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