This blog is on-demand from my father, who is at present 84 years of age. It is my father’s day gift to him (though it is coming a bit late).
My father and I were chatting over the phone about how the life of people is different in London and India. I was busy putting my experiences as a relatively younger person when he suddenly turned my attention by asking, “how old people are like in London?”
Living in London for quite a sometime now, I have seen elderlies in all conditions. By conditions, I mean financial and health-wise. Fit and not-so-fit old ladies and gentlemen can be seen going around independently in Malls, Tubes ( metros of India are called tubes in London), high streets (central-local market of an area in London is called highstreet). They might be down by their deteriorating age but are high in their spirits.
It is a common sight in London to see a 90 plus man or woman come driving in their mobility scooter entering a shop and filling their attached shopping basket with all sorts of eatables & household stuff.
On the other hand, my father can barely go out on the road because he cannot take the risk of walking on the land where people are driving like crazy without any regard for traffic rules and safety of others. Also, there are no footpaths or zebra crossing on the roads.
My father is a strong man, with the highest degree in education (MA in History, Political Science and Economics & BA LLB) and lived a dignified life throughout. He is the man who has spent all his life fighting for national causes and the underprivileged section of society. In his days of struggle, he did not care about settling down with a luxury lifestyle & blossomed future over the cost of the life of oppressed people or society. He is still being regarded as a true Nationalist by senior journalists from reputed publications. He has been living his life on his terms and has a glorious past. It is not just me, but everyone is a fan of his intellect & knowledge. He is truly a man of principles who has the most generous heart in the world. With all these, he deserves a life of serenity, especially at this age point. But he is stuck with expensive health care, decade-long lawsuits, inefficient banking services and forced government policies (which are more like threats, according to him).
There are more than one comparison points when it comes to the government support to elderlies in the UK versus India.
Free Medicines for elderlies In UK
For people above 65 years of age, all medicines recommended by NHS (National Health Services) in the United Kingdom are free.
Free Flu Jabs
Before the advent of winters, the injections to prevent severe conditions of cold and flu are available to be administered to elderlies, free of cost at any pharmacy.
A minimum fixed allowances & benefits
The government lays out various minimum subsidies for people above 60 (or 65 in some cases) like Housing benefits, carer’s allowance, heating allowance for having cheaper home heating solutions during harsh winters, cold weather payment, etc. There is almost everything covered to make life a bit easier for the people you had done so much for the country when they were able to.
Free bus pass
The public transport in London is efficient enough to allow independent travel for the elderly of any age or medical condition. The ramp that slides out of the buses made it easy for self-driven mobility vehicles to get on and off the bus. Plus, they get a free bus pass to travel around the town along with concession on inter-city travel.
Every country has different economic and political status. One may argue that a developed country like the United Kingdom may afford to support such benefits and allowances for old people, but there are more challenges for developing countries like India. But my assertion is, it is not the political or economic will that is needed; it is the human rights from the side of the government that is being sought here. Isn’t our country’s political system emotional enough to lend social support to this hand-shaking population? Isn’t the court and legal system of our nation wise sufficient to solve the matters involving elderlies in the reasonable time on a priority basis? Aren’t our national leaders capable enough to fund necessary facilities for those diminishing eyes?
My point is to give them more independent life at the age where diseases and incapabilities are already trying to hold them back. The family and friends of the old people surely take care of them, but some things are restricted for them too and can only be done if the government brings some regulations for providing a comfortable life for the old people (especially for the middle and lower-middle-class elderlies).
They may not be the future of the country, but their significant role in the past has made India glorify with pride. And we haven’t thanked them enough.