Are India’s elderly not being given their due?

BAPU SATYANARAYANA writes: Seventy per cent of Indians are below 35 years of age. It is a common perception that if India has achieved progress the ‘young turks’ in technical fields are behind it.

It is often derisively imputed that the elderly have lost touch with reality and have passed their prime to do anything good and the best thing they should do is retire gracefully and give way to the young.

Unfortunately, a cursory examination of those in politics reveals that those who have a say in progress are all above 65 years. Why, the scientists who met the Prime Minister recently on the nuclear deal were all over 65, as indeed is the PM himself.

Even those who fashioned the growth of giant corporate entities are elders who, no doubt, rose from their young days but probably gained wisdom well past their prime.

The following statistics may hold the key to this progress:

While in developing countries only 2% of those who are above 65 years are actively working while in India it is a whopping 60%. Also in India 20% of those who are above 80 years are active.

Of course it is the old who are suffering due to ill health. Of these only 20% are without any problem of a serious nature while 65% suffer from bad eyesight, 36% suffer difficulty in walking, 10% suffer from breathing problem, 8.5% sufer from skin disease, 7.4% suffer from nervous debility, 6.3% suffer from heart problem and 5.8% suffer from hearing impairment.

Other factors worthy of note are: While 6% live in India live without support of near and dear ones, the corresponding figure is 40% in USA. Also in rural areas, the old are looked after by youngsters, but those living in urban areas are neglected by their children and subject to severe hardship, mental and physical torure.

If India is making waves in all spheres, the question arises who are behind this progress? Is it possible that 20:80 rule is applicable? That is 20% of the old are responsible for the progress of the remaining 80% of the people?

What can we infer from the following?

A. At the age of 67 George Bernard Shaw wrote Saint John

B. Francis Chickster sails solo  across the Atlantic Ocean-4000 miles in 22 days at 69 years.

C. Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal eye-glasses at 79 years

D. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe completes his masterpiece Faust at 82

E. Betrand Russel says ‘I, personally have succeeded in living nearly 85 years without taking any trouble about my diet.

F. Mahatma Gandhi fasts at age 77  to quells religious violence

G. AT 87 Sophocles writes his play Phioctetes

H. At 98 Dimitrion Yordannidis runs  marathosn in Athens  in 7 hours and 33 minutes.

I. Ichijirou Araya climbs Mount Fuji at 100