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Karma Foundation, Parichay Foundation and Rays Foundation organised an International webinar to discuss the impact of COVID 19 on senior citizens.
The agenda of the webinar was to discuss and deliberate on the challenges faced by the silver generation during the current pandemic and to look for a way forward to mitigate the crisis.
Shri Shriniwas Rai, Former Member of Parliament- Singapore joined the discussion as the Guest Speaker from Singapore.
Shri Amarendra Khatua, Former Secretary (Special Assignment) Ministry of External Affairs was the Chief Speaker.
Shri Khatua stressed on the importance of right information to the right segment from genuine sources and suggested to provide literature in regional languages to the elderly in different parts of the country. He also pointed out that the major problems faced by elderly are psychological, socio-economic & financial and medical. Mr Khatua focused on the role of Central and State governments as well as NGOs, families and every individual to provide special support to the elders. He spoke about the need to provide accessibility to good and competent hospitals for elderly, availability of beds, availability of quarantine facilities, especially in rural areas. He believes that best practices from each country should be learned by each one of us.
Shri Shriniwas Rai pointed out the stark reality that even in a developed nation like Singapore, the elderly are not adequately equipped with the knowledge of computers. He shared how the government, social workers and students are teaching the elders to operate laptops and smart phones. He also emphasised on the situation of senior citizens facing depression due to staying in high rise buildings, extreme urbanisation and nuclear families. He also spoke about the Parents Act of Singapore which entitles the parents to claim maintenance from their children and stressed on the responsibility/duty of the family to look after the elderly. He focused on the importance of inculcating values in children from young age and reconnecting with the basic humanitarian principles to become a better human being.
Ms Deepti Devi ji, from the royal family of Odisha who has been helping the elder people through her music therapy believes that supporting and protecting the older people is the duty of each and every person. She emphasised that during these trying times, the senior citizens must be treated with respect and dignity. She also spoke about small acts of generosity to help the elderly and rightly differentiated between physical distancing and social distancing.
Ms. Deepti ji also spoke about the importance of music therapy in the process of healing through spreading positivity and happiness.
Ms Vaishali Makkar, Founder Trustee - Arushi, shared her journey of serving the senior citizens from the underprivileged background. She focused on the specific problems of senior citizens from different socio-economic status.
She pointed out that the senior citizens from the middle class and lower middle class are worst hit during this pandemic.
She also spoke about the importance of positivity and will power to fight the pandemic and the emotional and mental strength.
During the discussion, all panelists agreed on the importance of reaching out to the most marginalised during this crisis and later.
The panel of experts also recommended compulsory voluntary services like NSS or serving in NGOs to be made mandatory, for every student in school and college as a way forward to provide additional support to the silver generation.
A special thanks to Ms Rosalin Patasani Mishra, Founder President - Parichay Foundation for initiating this discussion. She has been organising a series of such webinars to understand the problems faced by different social groups and to look out for solutions to mitigate the present crisis.
The session was moderated by Ms Dhwani Jain, Founder - Karma Foundation. She pointed out that though the invisible corona virus doesn’t differentiate on the basis of socio-economic status, religious dogmas, political ideologies or any other form of discrimination, it is particularly detrimental to members of certain social groups and therefore it is responsibility of the society to provide additional support to the vulnerable groups.
Parichay, Rays and Karma resolved to strengthen social inclusion and solidarity during physical distancing. They pledged to stand for the elderly during this crisis and to be strength to the silver generation.