The concept of silver economy & steps that government should take to strengthen it

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Question – Explaining the concept of silver economy, mention the steps the government should take to strengthen it. – 17 December 2021

AnswerSilver Economy: The silver economy is a system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services aimed at harnessing the purchasing power of older and senior people and meeting their consumption, living and health needs.

The elderly population in India is expected to triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050,  accounting  for  18%  of  the  total  population  in  2050.  This  ageing  population  will  need  new  and  specialized services, which can be met by promoting Silver Economy.

Initiatives for Silver Economy:

  • Government is taking various steps to promote the idea of ​​Silver Economy.
  • Based on the recommendations of the Expert Group on the Silver Economy, the SAGE initiative has been launched to promote private enterprises that bring innovation in products and processes that benefit the elderly.
  • SACRED portal was recently launched by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu to connect senior citizens with job providers in the private sector.

Initiatives for the Elderly in India:

  2. SAGE (Senior Care Aging Growth Engine)
  3. Elder Line (All India Toll Free Number for Elderly Assistance)
  4. Integrated Program for Older Persons (IPOP)
  5. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY)
  6. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
  7. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana
  8. Vayoshreshtha Samman
  9. Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007

Further, several steps are needed to be undertaken to strengthen the silver economy:

  • Addressing the health, mental health challenges once elderly retire: Due to existing socio cultural norms,  retirees in  India  tend  to go into a  shell, which  further aggravates  their  health  Thus, businesses that offer geriatric health services should be encouraged.
  • Catering to  the ‘retiree job market’ and creating opportunities: Retirees with good mental  and  physical  health  should  be  provided  re-employment  opportunities  on  favourable  working  conditions  befitting  their age. They should also be re-skilled and encouraged to take up new responsibilities in the formal sector.
  • Recognising ‘senior  care’  as  a  sector: To  attract  investment,  senior  care  needs  to  be  recognised as a sector with appropriate regulations, policy support,  tax structures, availability  of subsidised financing, and appropriate governance mechanisms.
  • Tax incentives: Expenses on senior care solutions (like home care, care homes etc.) should be exempted of any taxes to enable faster penetration of such products and services.
  • Providing access to low-cost funding: Currently, businesses find it difficult to raise funds for development of senior living communities. Lower financing costs and innovative models of finance would allow for more affordable senior living and senior care projects.
  • Preferred status for land allocation and payments: Availability of land at lower prices than market  prices  and  the  option  of  staggered  payments  at  lower  interests  would  also  help  in  keeping  the cost of living arrangements at an affordable level and will help in removing entry

As  India  is  poised  to  witness  a  surge  in  its  senior  population,  it  is  important  to  promote  social  entrepreneurship to accelerate the growth of the silver economy. Governments,  businesses,  and individuals must work  together  to  adapt  policies  and  behaviour  to  promote  the  silver  economy  and  ensure  individual  and  national  fiscal  sustainability  as  the  population starts ageing.

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