Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Value the elderly by raising their employ-ability

By SK Nag

But the requirement is imminent with increased life expectancy resulting from modern and improved medical technology. Proclaiming the working rights of the elderly after retirement in today’s context is genuinely not a faux pas. Nevertheless, it is constitutional to reclaim the earning right, which any generation may not deny. 

At least in the distant future, a change is expected.
Social reality, our elderly population desist from taking up a second innings job out of traditional belief and practice. Thus, lack of opportunities sends them to solitude, and sometimes poignantly gets into a tormented state of life that they do not deserve and are genuinely unjust. 

Mastery in financial strategizing was effortless during regular service life and eventually became weak due to the absence of steady income. Life & livelihood would fizzle out, leaving no opportunity to leverage as the days are increasingly becoming volatile. It will lead to a paranoid state of life if inflation, price rise etc. are not taken care of duly.
Therefore the moot point should the retirement age be increased? Or do we have something called mandatory NPS contribution in regular service life, to support uncertain future post-retirement?
A debatable subject indeed. It is globally deliberated extensively also. Many economists, reformists have strongly voiced their opinion differently. Some of them showed commendable support and became the protagonist of the thought. However, unless a comprehensive thought process is drawn, this will be a sublimely critical show stopper to the idea conducive to future economic development. Post pandemic, this will be a significant need of the hour.
Monetizing every opportunity remained a coveted desire for all. This desire has been a critical driver of any development. But traditionally, what social value system we inherited is different. The young generation inherited the prejudiced belief of monetizing opportunity space should be vacated by the retired persons for them only. They think their succession opportunity is invaded if they are back in the mainstream again. 
Of course, an understandably conducive effort is needed. Otherwise, the upcoming generation may stop passage of agreement in the new normal. 

Theoretically, who will bring in this paradigm shift in our socio-economic model, may sound impossible. But paradoxically, the economic analysis may surface to have a good sense of conviction and merit. Gone are the days when retirement at 58 or 60 years of age was compatible with people’s lifestyles then. But in today’s context, the meaning of life has changed. At that age, people do not retire mentally or even physically, barring a few. 
Therefore, life does not stop there and starts living again beyond that point and tries to move forward. It gives rise to a new beginning of another phase of life, adopting a new career graph. That is how the life in changed ‘New Normal’ starts getting a new definition.

Retiring at 58 or 60 and living a reasonable standard of life for a decade thereafter is difficult if no income is planned. Subsistence and managing the wherewithal required at old age is very crucial. Opportunities ceased to exist. Moreover, Old age malaises are manifold, and life becomes a colossal load of stricture with exiguous money at disposal. 
As money fizzles out very quickly through various compulsory expenditure, especially medicine, but life cannot cede to live. A harmonious lifestyle on a platter is never possible unless thought differently. Therefore, without quashing this thinking to avoid impending imperilment in our socio-economic system, it should see some light of the day. Not an opulent experience of life; instead, they want a frugal and decent lifestyle, which should not intimidate the new generation. 
But how relevant and practical it would be in the Indian context instead of brooding, let us perceptualize in post-COVID days. This might take some time to understand how it will address agony and bring solace to those elderly who will be outliving their lives like many. The regulations which are framed during the pre-independence era are not relevant today. Therefore, this retirement age bar must be revised to bring a smile to the elderly. This will be hallowed across the country as this will welcome economic prosperity too.
Plenty of human resources are available in this country, but the shortage of critical skill sets impede our growth. This skill gap to compensate experienced workforce might pitch in and serve the country again. Hand Holding, the newcomer in the service life, might enhance their modern skill and resulting efficiency if the historical viewpoints are imbibed duly. The superannuated workforce may consequently and effectively be repurposed for overall economic development. There is no national nodal registry system to capture these critical skill sets databases, which leaves the mainstream job and becomes idle assets.

World statistics, a clear indication of human resources’ loss in the coming days, will dampen the spirit of growth if this retiring generation is not brought into mainstream development.
Germany will lose 12% of its total workforce in the coming years, which is a matter of concern. The tectonic shift in demographics- In India alone, will face the stiff pressure of growing consumer base and put pressure on employee recruitment and retention. Adding to that, the retiring of the experienced workforce will increase the woes much more. 

Of course, they cannot scuttle on the corporate ladder at this age, for sure. But their inclusion will augment our growth. Mooching the rest of life without anything in solitude is not the result the country wants. 
Therefore, cohesively pushing the thought forward is needed so that life does not become a noose of the archaic.

 (SK Nag is Chartered Engineer, Energy Expert and industry mentor. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected] )

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