Why is India such a depressed country
Eight old women sit on plastic chairs on the terrace of Abhaya Sadan. Her colorful saris shine in the afternoon sun. It will soon be 3 p.m. They are about to have a cup of tea with plenty of milk. Later they will have dinner together around a small wooden table. Maybe they go around the house before that.
Abhaya Sadan, the house without fear, as the German translation for the Indian old people's home reads, is a peaceful place. It is located just outside of Coimbatore in southern India in the state of Tamil Nadu. The eight women who live here, most of them undocumented, were lucky in misfortune. Nobody wanted her anymore. One's daughter-in-law broke his wrist in an argument, his own son didn't care. Another lived alone in poverty after the death of her husband, the three children no longer wanted to have anything to do with her. Another lived with her grandson. When she got sick, there was not enough money to help her. One says that her husband looked for a new wife years ago and took their only son with him. Since then she has lived alone. In poverty. Left behind. All eight women had become a burden to their families in one form or another. And whoever becomes a burden, no longer functions and can no longer work, is left alone.
"When you are old, you should die, is the common way of thinking of many Indians," explains T. K. Nathan, who is the managing director of the Karl Kübel Foundation for Child and Family (KKF) in Coimbatore. Together with a local aid organization, the KKF ensures that the old people's home, which was founded in 2016, can exist for these eight women. Social security mechanisms in the form of a pension and health insurance are as good as nonexistent in India. "Only 1.6 percent of all elderly people receive a pension at all," says Mathew Cherian of Help Age India, the largest non-governmental organization on the subcontinent that looks after the needs of the elderly. And what they are paid is just enough to survive: five US dollars a month.
One fifth of India's population will be over 60 by 2050
Measured against the number of people who are now getting old in India, the 1.6 percent is a drop in the ocean: 120 million Indians have now reached the age of 60 plus. According to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), there will be 320 million people by 2050. A fifth of the total population then counts among the seniors, describes A. B. Dey, head of the geriatrics department at AIIMS. Even today, 66 percent of all men and 28 percent of all women in rural areas have to work into old age in order to survive. In the cities it is still 46 percent of men and eleven percent of women, according to a report by the Indian government on the status of the elderly.
Many old people, like the eight women in Abhaya Sadan, are abused in their homes. Be it through words or blows, Help Age India has found out through surveys. "Ten percent of the old are depressed," says Cherian. Retirement homes like the Abhaya Sadan are a rarity. There are currently only 214,000 people in homes. Since most of them are dependent on donations and have limited financial resources, the options in the homes are limited. Hospices for dying old people are a rarity, says Father Thomas.
Father Thomas is a little charismatic man. He hardly needs any sleep, he says. If he slept more, he would have less time for all the forgotten people lying on dark street corners, dusty corners of train stations or in front of the toilets of larger hospitals. "Because there," says the pastor, "they usually push the hospital staff there. Sick, old people are sorted out in a country like India. Nobody wants them anymore," says the clergyman . "
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