by Md Tabrez Alam & Md Afroz

Elders Club

 “Elders are not liabilities, they are asset. A Banyan tree not only survives but shelters many under it shadow to grow harmoniously”

Introduction

Ageing is a natural course of development and increasing longevity has wonderful human achievement. An active secure and healthy ageing population can present enormous contribution to the society. This demographic shift has opportunities with challenges where ageing require lots of resourceful support while it has resounding contribution to the family and society. Elders are like banyan tree that provide shelters and give equal opportune to grow each in the family. Despite so much socio-economic crisis in the country, Indian family system survived it is because of elders that glued together all. Therefore, elders are blessing to the society. Active ageing policies and programmes are needed to allow people to continue working according to their capacities and preferences as they grow older and must have choices at all stages of life.

Developing Elderhood

In India 103.8 million, 8.6% populations are of senior citizens according to 2011 Census and it likely to grow 13% in 2021 Census. There is strong a concern among Senior citizens, like “What to do now” and what is the purpose of life. People get sufficient time post-retirement to take up or rekindle their socio-cultural engagement to attain age gracefully. Unfortunately very few get such chances and this has been highlighted by many researches. Elder people should have mental, physical engagement to lead a good health. Their engagement ranges from reading, writing, music, dance, yoga and social interaction must be included as a way to de-stress and lead a more active life. That can only be possible by joining a centre or senior club that facilitate such space where they socialize and engage in constructive activities. The purpose of this idea in this regard is to be inclusive and create a more coherent environment in life and society so no one is left behind.

Why think about ageing?

Can one think and envision oneself in the future when the work and activities that kept you busy are gone? It is the worst question that haunts most of the seniors’ citizens. In old age, people go through difficult phases of their lives, as they lack many aspects like physically not fit, becoming alone, and feeling useless and neglected by family and society. So, it is crucial to have recreational centres and programmes to help them find comradeship and support in their older age. In the urban setup, there are many recreational clubs established by different NGOs to offer game nights, excursions, dancing and singing sessions, etc. One of the best organisations, Help Age India, also do similar work and offer them a healthy environment and also help bridge the gap between generations (Prakash Borgaonkar).

What is Elder’s Club?

Elder’s Club is a semi home for old-age persons. It is an instructional & recreational program designed to improve the quality of life through social inclusion. It is an attempt to improve older people’s mental and social well-being. The senior citizens of the elder’s Club primarily belong to six blocks of Jamtara, a remotely backward district of Jharkhand; namely Nala, Fathepur, Jamtara, Narayanpur, Karmatand, and Kundhit. It has diverse population in terms caste and linguistic primarily tribal (30.4 percent) dominated. The major language spoken is Bengali 30%, Santhali 29% Khortha 27%, hindi 6% and Urdu 3% respectively (Census 2011). The poor public and private infrastructure limit the development course. Education is most viable durable source of emancipation from all misery. DC Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz has taken the initiative after successfully implementing a community library in 118 Panchayat of Jamtara. It has well appreciated and welcomed by all corner of people.

The initiative 

The idea struck after coming across instances of depression among certain older people due to various social issues. “There was a teacher who used to reach students even after retirement. After his wife passed away, he went into depression and wanted to die. Many such cases came to the notice of district administration, and being counselled. The idea came why not provide an opportunity to the poor and older people so as they live a dignified social life. The district administration of Jamtara decided to use the existing infrastructure to set up elder’s clubs or recreational centres for the senior citizens at the block level with minimum expenditure, and these centres are running in all six blocks of Jamtara. Like the previous initiative of the community library in 118 Panchayats. It has been initiated and taken extra effort to utilise old structures in the block offices. It formalised into reality by setting up such elders club at the block level and a committee was formed with a Block Development Officer as the ex-officio secretary to ensure proper monitoring. It is overwhelmingly welcomed by Locals. One old person Nakul Mandal from Jamtara said that “Kahiyo Na Sochle Haliye Babu Ki Humniyon Khatil Is Sab Bante U Bhi E Dehatiya Me, DC sir Badi Bes Kam Karo Hathin” never thought that DC would build such club for older people in the village, he is doing very good. Another person mentioned that it would make us more active, and I feel happy to be associated with this club. The motive of the Initiative is to motivate senior citizens to engage socially and find the path of the solution themselves.

The way forward 

Elder’s club will serve many purposes, it would enable old persons of the community to learn livelihood as well as social skills, with the mission to improve the quality of life for all at the same time contribute their resourceful knowledge for the betterment of harmonious society. Any vision meets reality only once get institutionalised support of state agency and cooperation of civil society. Therefore, to carry forward this visionary mission needs strong patronisation of the state as well political will to build an inclusive society.


Reference

  1. Schemes for senior citizens, SSEPD, GoI, https://ssepd.gov.in/system/download/Scheme%20for%20Senior%20Citizens%20-%20Final.pd
  2. Ageing in 21st Century, United Nations, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UNFPA-Exec-Summary.pdf
  3. Club for elderly, another noble initiative, The New Indian Express, https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2021/nov/17/club-for-elderly-another-noble-initiative-by-jharkhand-government-official-2384652.html

4.      Feeling blue? Jamtara plans clubs for elderly to unwind, The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/feeling-blue-jamtara-plans-clubs-for-elderly-to-unwind/articleshow/87690366.cms

5.      Second elders’ club launched in Jamtara, The Telegraph, https://www.telegraphindia.com/jharkhand/jharkhand-news-digest-second-elders-club-launched-in-jamtara/cid/1843007

  1. Jamtara District Census Handbook, Census 2011, GoI, http://censusindia.gov.in/2011census/dchb/2018_PART_B_DCHB_JAMTARA.pdf
  2. Ahmed Faiz & Alam Tabrez (2021) working paper on Elder’s Club for Enhancing Inclusive & Sustainable Development.

 

Author Details

MD Tabrez Alam, Doctoral Scholar @ Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. As a researcher, the quest for knowledge begins from the fieldwork. Currently, he is working on Urban inequality and housing segregations in newly developed township India.

For more info.

ktabrezshams@gmail.com

Follow @ktabrezshams

 

Dr Md Afroz, teaches Political science & Public Administration @MANUU. He has obtained M,Phil, PhD from Jamia Millia Islamia. His interest lies in; federalism, ethnic conflict, Nation-building, democratic decentralization and governance.

For more info.

afrozjamia@gmail.com

Follow @khwajaAfrozSidd


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