Impact of Imperialism on India

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  The ageing of population is an obvious consequence of the process of demographic transition. While the countries of the west have already experienced and have planned for their elderly population, it is only in the last one and half decades that countries in Asia too are facing a steady growth of the elderly, as a result of the decline in fertility and mortality, better medical and health care and improvements in the overall quality of life of people. Within Asia, as India and China are the two largest countries in the region, it is expected that they would have a significant proportion of the world’s elderly because of their large population base. In fact, the situation in India presents two different scenarios with certain states grappling with curbing their high fertility rates while others, which have controlled high fertility rates, are already experiencing or are poised to experience an increase in their elderly population.             There has been a progressive increase in both the number and proportion of the aged in India over time, particularly after 1951. Between 1901 and 1951, the proportion of population over age 60 increased marginally from 5 percent to 5.4 percent, while by 2001 this had increased to 7.0 percent. When changes in the decadal growth rate in the general population are compared with those for the elderly population, it is noted that the latter grew at a relatively much faster rate than the general population, since 1951. Furthermore, the decadal percent increase in the elderly population for the period 2001-2011 is likely to be more than double the rate of increase of the general population. The size of the elderly rose in absolute terms during the last century from 12 million in 1901 to approximately 71 million in 2001 and is likely to reach 113 million in 2016. Yet another feature of ageing in India is the fact that the proportion of elderly is much higher in the rural areas than in the urban areas. The sex-wise pattern of growth of elderly population reveals that the increase is greater among women in the recent past, which indicates that elderly women will outnumber elderly men in the future.             There is therefore an urgent need to examine the various aspects of this new and fast growing population to ensure the design of appropriate policy and programmes directed to meet the varied needs of this vulnerable and dependent group. India, like many traditional societies, today faces a unique situation in providing care for its elderly as the existing old-age support structures in the form of family, kith and kin, are fast eroding and the elderly are ill-equipped to cope alone with their lives in the face of infirmity and disability. The onus of caring for the elderly is therefore now much more on the state than the family and will necessitate the creation of adequate institutional support. While the western countries have a fairly well organised network of institutions for the care of the elderly, the growth and development of these facilities in India, which began as early as 1901, still remains inadequate. As per recent statistic, there are 1018 old age homes in India today.  Out of these, 427 homes are free of cost while 153 old age homes are on pay and stay basis, 146 homes have both free as well as pay and stay facilities and detailed information is not available for 292 homes. A total of 371 old age homes all over the country are available for the sick and 118 homes are exclusive for women. A majority of the old age homes are concentrated in the developed states including Gujarat (Directory of Old Age Homes in India, Help Age India, 2002).             The concern for the elderly in the country is reflected in the adoption of a recent National Policy on Older Persons in 1999, which has identified principal areas of intervention and action strategies. These include financial security for the elderly in the formal and informal sector, health care and nutrition, shelter and housing...
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