Social activists say that creating proper awareness among the students of the rights of senior citizens is essential, since they will be able to uphold their rights in the future.

At a time when the number of senior citizens being abandoned and the number of old-age homes are on the rise, a government order directing formation of “Patti Thatha Manavar Kuzhu” in all educational institutions in Madurai is seen as a laudable initiative.

Social activists say that creating proper awareness among the students of the rights of senior citizens is essential, since they will be able to uphold their rights in the future as responsible citizens.

“In the past few years, I noticed that there was an alarming trend of the number of deserted senior citizens going up. Several old-age homes have made business out of this,” says K. Ram Prabhu, secretary of Indiram Educational and Social Welfare Trust.

The government order on formation of the Manavar Kuzhu was issued based on an order passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on a public interest litigation petition filed by Mr. Prabhu seeking effective implementation of the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, by forming and nurturing students’ associations.

“On getting proper awareness of the Act, the students will protect the rights of the elders in their families. It will be even better if such students’ associations are created in educational institutions across India,” he adds.

N. Rajasekar, Registrar of Madurai Kamaraj University, says that works are already on to form the “Manavar Kuzhu” at the University.

“We will be finalising it soon,” he says.

As per the government order, the “Manavar Kuzhu” could be modelled on Red Ribbon Club and Youth Red Cross Society, and also involving social activists and non-governmental organisations. Separate marks for project work should be given to the students to encourage and involve them, the GO says.

“Schools and colleges focus only on making students score good marks. Not much time is allocated for value education to students. Such initiatives will help students become socially responsible,” says B. Udayakumar, project officer of HelpAge India.

According to him, a large number of youths unintentionally abuse elders because of lack of awareness. “We have so far involved students in creating awareness among the public, assisting the senior citizens in old-age homes and taking surveys of elder abuse. Through the association, we can involve them in more such activities,” Mr. Udayakumar says.

G.R. Sivakumar, director of the welfare of aged and destitute wing at Indian Red Cross, says they are planning to involve students in an elaborate way in creating awareness of rights of senior citizens.

“Elder abuse can be abolished only through awareness. Students should realise that sitting and talking to their grandparents itself will keep them happy,” he concludes.

Read more here – http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/protection-of-senior-citizens-rights-awareness-is-the-first-step/article6263232.ece