Is it a curse to be 70?

Prof Javed Mughal
A few days ago, a post of one of the seasoned senior citizens of this great country transported me into a state of numbness for a while. The post on his face-book timeline spoke the language of his bruised heart and the mind upset. The contents of his post sent a galvanic shock through my spine and might have aroused the emotions of all those who have human heart to feel and rational mind to think over the chronic disheartening attitude of system and society towards our predecessors. I placed myself into his state of mind just for a moment to understand the intensity of agony and exasperation he was going through. The questions that frequently flashed across my mind were: Are these senior citizens beyond 70 really a useless stuff in our country? Is their experience of life of no significance at all now? Have we made up our mind to believe that all of them are physically and mentally invalid? Can’t we benefit from their life-long wisdom and experience now? If it is true, then what some of our politicians, on the wrong side of 70, are doing in the government and why they are interfering with the state-craft? Above all, is all this happening to the respectable seniors especially in India that claims to be an abode of human values? If the complaining post of this man on social site is true, then we are worse than a beast for sure. All these questions are genuine and irrefragable of course that made me upset time and again and then I prayed to God to remove me from this planet dotted with spiritual degeneration and ethical degradation before I step into this infra-dignitary stage of life i.e. 70. How can our laws be so insensitive towards the contribution of these gray heads to the betterment of society? The people, who engineered great Scientists, Professors, Bureaucrats, Technocrats, Business Magnates and Political Stalwarts, can nowise turn into a trash so all of a sudden.
This decision to declare someone mentally and physically handicapped should be subjected to the convincing reasons and medical evidences. But we can’t take it to be a universal truth. If someone has been weighed down by the old age, even then he or she is entitled to all care and respect. This state of health of this senior citizen, who raised this issue of being a neglected entity in the society, happens to be a retired Professor and has been one of the best mentors of generations during his active service and even now he is absolutely fit and fine to guide us to a successful career ahead. Let me tell my readers with tears in my eyes and with face down-cast that these creatures above 70-category are paying handsome tax to the government exactly as we are doing but no facility is available for them what to speak of those who are contributing nothing.
I pay tax and am paid back by the system in a handsome manner but my father (e.g) paying more than I do without getting anything at all excepting humiliation and a sense of continuous insecurity. Our system has assured him that he is mentally, physically and by all other means quite invalid and a useless stuff for the society now. Nothing can be as ridiculous as this spectacle to see. This is an obnoxious state of affairs and is highly condemnable. We are an utter failure as apostles of moral and ethical principles since we have badly failed to recognize the importance of our elders. I am surprised as to why this lot has been relegated to the background despite the fact that quite a good number of big bras beyond 70 have always remained on the helm of affairs and the controllers of power and law making procedures in this very country.
It is height of selfishness if they could not do anything appreciable for their counterparts. Matter of great concern indeed. No driving license is permissible to them (who taught me how to drive) exceeding 70 years of age that too without any medical proof. This poor septuagenarian is too ill-fated to be entitled to the any kind of Medi-claim or life-insurance policy. He is not even provided a personal consumer loan by the bank which has to be liquidated within 5 years period just because we are sure that he will not survive till then and the matter worse than this is that we have instilled this fear of insecurity in the mind of this precious old man of the family. Is this the ultimate reward we are paying to those who have chiseled our life and career and shaped the destiny of the nation through all ravages of times and circumstances? It, in fact, speaks about our parochial approach making no much difference to the old boys who are dwelling on the sweet memories of their radiant past. The senior citizens constitute a precious reservoir of such human resource as is gifted with knowledge of various sorts, varied experiences and deep insights. May be they have formally retired, yet an overwhelming majority of them are physically and mentally capable of contributing to the well being of the society.
In the west when the old parents are left by their sons and daughters in lurch, the Government comes forward to rescue them against all odds of life. They provide respectable sustenance and all the basic amenities of life to these precious gems (senior citizens) but here in our country (which claims to be the soil of seers and saints and an abode of moral, human and ethical values, both heir-apparents, kith and kins, along with the system as a whole) are all bent upon degrading the lot of these lords of experience and repositories wisdom gained over the years colliding with the ups and downs of life. Role of a senior citizen in a family is substantial for proper guidance and discipline. But, in recent times, people have grown to be hesitant to take up the responsibilities of their aged parents. With modernization and westernization, individualistic thoughts paved the way for establishing nuclear families. People are choosing to live separately from their parents leaving the elderly lot in a state of hysteria and aloofness. At an age where senior citizens’ return should be in the shape of emotional support along with care and love from their beloved ones, we treat them in ways that are beyond the ken of my understanding. My blood congeals and heart sinks down in despair when I look at this tragic aspect of life. Apart from it, senior citizens in India have also faced an escalating number of physical violence incidents against them. Here the role of Government towards the issue cannot be denied.
Considering the increasing problems faced by the old aged people, it has become necessary that a robust system with the underlying laws ensuring the protection of these yesterday’s heroes at all levels should be established. Government has time and again failed to provide complete protection to this most important segment of society- the sweet 70s even though the potent laws stand instituted in the society.
This calls for clarification and effective implementation of laws both at micro and macro levels. It is time for the govt. to realize the fault of erstwhile establishments and rejuvenate the policy of care and security of old citizens, legislate stringent laws for domestic safety of senior parents, extend all medical and life insurance facilities to them with permission to have driving license also to run from Alto K10 to Mercedes Benz and Jaguars on the roads just as a young man does unless this gray stuff is mentally too weak to drive since while driving we have to take the mental strength, not muscle power, of a driver into account. All the facilities which are permitted to a man of 30 must at the same time be allowed to an old smart boy of 70 as well. It will not have any enervating impact on our economy for sure. There are hundred other issues blended with our idiocy that has left us more or less in a state of economic paralysis. Don’t forget that to respect our senior citizens is to respect our country.