Elderly people, especially aged 60 years and above, are known as senior citizens. In Nepal, senior citizens account for about 8.1 per cent of the total population. This group of people is a repository of experience and wisdom. The aged people’s in-depth knowledge about social and cultural values, beliefs and traditions is quite useful to one and all. The contributions made by them for the overall development of the society and the nation as a whole are immense. With their enriched experiences and knowledge, they can play an important role in the task of nation building. So, it is necessary for the responsible authorities and institutions to make congenial conditions for the diffusion of knowledge, skills, expertise and experiences gained by senior citizens. It is notable that like many countries around the world, Nepal, too, has come a long way in terms of welfare policies for senior citizens. The state provides allowances, benefits and other facilities and services under the social security scheme for senior citizens. However, much remains to be done for their good health, wellbeing and dignified life.
Senior citizens are in need of respectful treatment in the society and family. It is equally important to ensure their comfortable living through an effective implementation of the existing laws and policies. The government has decided to celebrate Poush 11th in Nepali calendar as the National Senior Citizens Day to show respect for the elderlies with the theme of ‘Respect to Senior Citizens: Identity of Civilised Citizens’. In line with this decision, the nation marked the 1st National Senior Citizens Day on Sunday with various programmes, commemorating the day when the government had first announced to give Rs. 100 per month as the social security allowance to the elders. It may be recalled here that the government led by late Manmohan Adhikari had introduced this scheme on December 26, 1994. Addressing the programmes organised by different governmental and non-governmental organisations, speakers called for the protection and promotion of the rights, interests and entitlements of senior citizens.
A host of senior citizens, including centenary man Satya Mohan Joshi, were felicitated amidst a special function organised to mark the 1st National Senior Citizens Day in the capital. Speaking at the programme, President Bidya Devi Bhandari underlined the need for acknowledging the knowledge, inspirations, experiences and skills of senior citizens and utilising them for the welfare of the society and the nation. Feted personality Joshi, who is a senior culture expert, said: “Old age is for living a more realistic, beautiful and meaningful life. I call upon fellow senior citizens to try to spend quality time.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has expressed his hope on this occasion that the day would inspire everyone to emphasise the secure and dignified living of senior citizens by increasing respect, honour and reverence towards them. It is needless to reiterate that senior citizens are prominent figures and important members of any society. They should never be taken as a burden. They are not only seniors of the society but also leading personalities, sources of inspiration and pride of the society. Deuba has said, “The government, family and the society are responsible for building atmosphere conducive for a respectful and secure life of senior citizens with guarantee of human rights, economic and social security for them.” The government needs to expand the coverage of the social security scheme and implement special service subsidy for senior citizens living across the country.