A parliamentary panel has urged the Centre to raise the retirement age to 65 years, noting that growing lifespan was adding to the need for “productive ageing”.
The recommendation for increase in retirement age comes with a reminder that senior citizens would form 12.4% of the total population in 2026 from 7.5% in 2001.
“The committee feels that with the increase in life expectancy and relatively better state of health of people, the government needs to look at continuity of employment up to 65 years,” said the report of standing committee of Parliament on social justice and empowerment tabled on Friday.
It also recommended that government look at greater post-retirement opportunities for senior citizens and create greater financial support for the elderly by hiking the old age pension to Rs 1,000 per month from the present Rs 200 for those above 60 years and Rs 500 for those above 80 years.
While suggesting immediate redressal for the ageing population, the panel sought to train the government’s focus on the 60-plus group by pointing out that its growing numbers would be a serious challenge in health and social care.
Specifically, it underlined that as per population projections, the 80-plus bloc, the most-vulnerable group, would see a sharper rise in numbers.
The urgency of parliamentarians towards senior citizens comes amid growing global realization that increasing lifespan is creating a new demographic bloc requiring state intervention.
Seeking government attention, the committee noted that senior citizens comprised 7.5% of the total population in 2001 but their share is likely to increase to 12.4% in 2026. Importantly, UN projections say while India’s population will rise by 55% by 2050, that of 60-plus would increase by 326% and that of 80-plus would go up by 700%.
Given the rising challenge, the panel headed by Hemanand Biswal found the government response inadequate, noting that “issue of rapid population ageing in the country has not received due attention of the government and the community at large”.
The panel said special focus should be on the octogenarian bloc. “This age group is the most vulnerable and runs the risk of getting dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, depression in their older years,” it said, and asked the Centre to constitute an expert group of relevant government departments to devise specialized healthcare programme for them.