ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Pressing Issue

The incisive article, “Ageing in India” (EPW, 2 May 2015) by Charan Singh and others reminded me of a paradoxical statement by the German psychologist Paul B Baltes, “Old age is young.” Indeed, old age is emerging as a pressing issue in contemporary societies. Nowadays, while the young are equated with the power to turn the wheels of economic development and social revolution, the old are viewed as hindrances and burdens because of their non-economic status. Even if they are well looked after, they often suffer loneliness. The current system is leaving many elderly frail and disabled.

Gaustave Flaubert, an influential French writer, once commented, “What an elder sees sitting; the young cannot see standing”. Kofi Annan, the former United Nations’ Secretary-General appropriately remarked, “Trees grow stronger over the years, rivers wider. Likewise, with age, human beings gain immeasurable depth and breadth of experience and wisdom.” Elderly persons instruct the youth how to make progress with prudence, sagacity, discernment and insight. The elderly possess a great deal of old world knowledge, and a level of expertise unknown to the younger generation.

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