The Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu conferred the “Vayoshreshtha Samman-2018” on the eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their services towards the cause of the elderly persons on the occasion of ‘International Day of older Persons’ at a function organized by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment here today. International Day of Older Persons is celebrated every year on 1st October since the year 2005.Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot presided over the function. Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Shri Ram Das Athawale and Shri Vijay Sampla, Secretary, M/o Social Justice & Empowerment Smt. Neelam Sawhney, senior officers of the ministry and senior citizens in a large number were present.A short film entitled “Yeh Zindagi Sabak Hai” based on the achievements of the awardees produced by M/o Social Justice and Empowerment through NFDC was screened on the occasion.Addressing on the occasion the Vice President said that the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to observe 1st October, 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons and to promote the theme "A society for All Ages". Ever since every year, 1st October is celebrated as International Day of Older Persons. He suggested that the “Old Age Homes” should be renamed as “Elderly Home” and Old Persons should be called Elderly Persons.The Vice President said every society teaches its new generations to respect and revere elders. This finer link must be sustained from generation to generation.He said that we must appreciate that age-related issues are chronic and require prolonged treatment and post – treatment rehabilitation. Geriatric care should be a separate medical, nursing and physiotherapy discipline. He suggested that our Hospitals should have separate Geriatric Departments and Wards with specialists and paramedical staff trained in geriatric care. The Government is assisting in setting up Old age homes, Day care Homes for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, physiotherapy clinics and Mobile Health Clinics for remote areas and villages. "Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana" has been launched since 2017, for free distribution of physical aids and devices to senior citizens belonging to the BPL category.The Vice President suggested that the quality of services provided under these Government schemes must be ensured and coverage should be expanded. The processes of availing the benefits of such Government schemes should be easy. We cannot expect our elderly citizens to run around the office at that age, to avail the benefits. Concerned agencies and Hospitals must use digital technology to facilitate people to avail these schemes. Government may hire volunteers, school students to help elderly people avail the benefit of schemes.
Thaawarchand Gehlot said that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment organizes two important programmes on “International Day of Older Persons” – (a) Walkthan for Senior citizens; and (b) Conferrment of ‘Vayoshreshtha Samman’ on senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their services towards the cause of the elderly persons. India has an age old rich tradition of respecting and caring for elderly. Under Joint Family system, Older persons enjoy a place of reverence and influence, guiding and advising the younger generations. But with the gradual disintegration of the joint family, inter-generational bonding has weakened. International Day of older Persons is an occasion for young generation for their sense of responsibility towards the older persons. Not all persons are privileged to get an opportunity to serve their parents and older persons in their families. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has initiated many useful programmes and schemes for the welfare of senior citizens.He said that in the year 2017, the Ministry has started a new programme “Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana”, which aims at providing physical aids and assistive living devices viz. wheel chairs, hearing aids, spectacles, support sticks etc. to the older persons of below poverty line category. So far, more than 53000 senior citizens have been benefitted under this Yojana. Initially 305 districts have been chosen and out of these, the implementation has started in 55 districts. He called upon all senior citizens and older persons to apprise him of their suggestions for their welfare.
Vijay Sampla in his opening remarks said that the many old acts for the welfare of older persons have been amended and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is dedicated to the welfare of senior citizens.Vayoshreshtha Samman is a Scheme of National Awards instituted by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (D/o Social Justice & Empowerment) initially in 2005 and upgraded to the status of National Awards in 2013, for institutions involved in rendering distinguished service for the cause of elderly persons especially indigent senior citizens and to eminent citizens in recognition of their service/achievements. These awards are presented as part of the celebration of the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) on 1st October.The National Awards are intended to show case the Government's concern for senior citizens and its commitment towards them with the aim of strengthening their legitimate place in the society. It is also intended to provide an opportunity to the younger generation to understand the contribution of the elderly in building of the society and the nation. The awards are intended to be conferred on eminent senior citizens and institutions involved in rendering distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons especially indigent senior citizens. The recipients are drawn from diverse fields. The Awards are given to institutions/organisations/individuals from any part of the country. Nominations are invited from Governmental and Non-Governmental Agencies. As per the Scheme, nominations are invited from Ministries/Departments of the Government of India and their autonomous organisations; State Governments/UT Administrations; past recipients of Padma Award; Vayoshreshtha Samman and other National Awards in both individual and institutional categories; Members of the National Council for Senior Citizens; Renowned Apex Chambers like FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM, NASSCOM, PHDCCI etc.