Role of Senior Citizens in Knowledge Economy

Think tank on “Role of Senior Citizens in Knowledge Economy”

Held at Soundaryam Comfort Homes, Perur-Pachapalayam, Coimbatore on Saturday, September 18, 2010

“Change” is the only thing permanent in life:

It is inevitable, being the law of nature.  So too is the natural process of ageing, and a retired life is normally said to be ‘goodbye to tension’ and ‘hello to pension’.  Yet, the common man’s attitude towards senior citizens is that of considering them merely as hapless people, constantly in need of assistance.  This approach needs to be reversed, as senior citizens who possess vast experience are a store house of technical, practical knowledge and wisdom, all of which need to be identified, utilized, channelised and harnessed for the development of our country in diverse fields.  The twilight years in one’s life do not mean the beginning of the end – one needs to remember that when the sun disappears off the horizon, at sunset, there is still light and the colours are most beautiful, so much so that it is extremely difficult to distinguish between Dawn and Dusk.

Think Tank:

It was with this objective that two academic institutions – Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (Uttarakhand) and Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, (Tamil Nadu), with enthusiastic support from Covai Property Centre (I) Pvt. Ltd., Coimbatore, jointly organised a “Think Tank” on “The role of senior citizens in Knowledge Economy”, on Saturday, September 18, 2010 at “The Retreat”, Soundaryam – Santhosham Comfort Homes, Perur Pachapalayam, Coimbatore, under the Knowledge Economy Project funded by the Government of India, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Department of Information Technology.  The Confederation of Indian Industry (Coimbatore Zone) co-sponsored the event.

The event provided a platform to a broad spectrum of society, with representation of the government, industry, academia, NGOs and a good majority of senior citizens, to voice their opinions and hold meaningful fruitful discussions.  The event aimed at creating awareness of the necessity of a positive approach towards senior citizens through the media and fostering positive ageing with proper geriatric care as well as through corporate social responsibility.  Participants were also provided with useful information on insurance and investment schemes.

Sessions:

The event spread over three sessions: Inaugural, Plenary and Valedictory. In the Inaugural session, Col. A. Sridharan, VSM (Retd)., Managing Director of Covai Property Centre (India) Private Limited, welcomed the gathering.  Dr. S.N. Rangnekar, Assoc. Professor, Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee introduced the Knowledge Economy Project while the Chief Guest, Dr. G. Lakshmipathy, noted geriatrist and humorist delivered the Inaugural Address.  Mrs. Revathi Bhasker, erstwhile Project Manager of the Knowledge Economy Project at IIT Roorkee proposed a vote of thanks.

Plenary:

In the Plenary session, a panel discussion was held with AVM Dr. Natarajan, Former Vice-Chancellor, Pauri Garhwal University, Uttarakhand, Mr. Jayakumar Ramdas, Past Chairman CII Coimbatore Zone and Managing Director, Mahendra Submersible Pumps P. Ltd., and Mr. Pratap Gokuldas, Former Governor, Rotary International and President, NRI Parents’ Association as panelists and Prof. G. Ramasamy, Professor in Civil Engineering, EBETI, Coimbatore, as the moderator.  The discussion was followed by an inter-active session with the audience.

Valedictory:

In the post lunch Valedictory Session, a skit was performed by senior citizens on the Knowledge Economy Workshop by the residents, Mrs. Padma Varadarajan, Mrs. Rajalakshmi Venkateswaran and Mrs. Seethalakshmi Parameswaran.  Mrs. P.N. Kalyani presented a song specially composed by her for the occasion.  This was followed by a talk on ‘Wealth Management for Seniors’ by Mr. Sivaraman, Regional Head, Aditya Birla Money.  Wg. Cdr. Dinesh Bhardwaj, an Insurance Consultant, spoke on ‘Insurance for Senior Citizens’.  Mr. Shyam Vishwanathan, HR Consultant presented a Caregiver’s Perceptions on Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Retire to Begin Life:

Col. Sridharan then steered a very lively presentation of views on ‘Retire to begin life’.  Mr. M.H. Narasimhan, Founder and Managing Director of Einstitute of Executive Learning, Mumbai delivered the Valedictory Address, while Dr. Prema Rajagopalan, Asst. Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, summed up the takeaways of the workshop.  The workshop aimed at channelising the vast storehouse of knowledge vested in the senior citizens for the welfare of the society, and to evolve a thought process which will be instrumental to generate policy making and modifications in the days ahead.

Some of the tips to good living for the elderly brought up at the meet are:

  • Maintain good health
  • Consume nutritious food
  • Adhere to a time schedule for all activities
  • Indulge in regular physical activity
  • Have periodic medical check-ups
  • Never discontinue medications
  • Never heed to unsolicited advice from non-technical persons
  • Never hide symptoms from the physician
  • Never be afraid of unavoidable surgeries and
  • Avoid falls

Some of the suggestions made at the workshop are:

  • Senior Citizens can be members of Advisory Committees to monitor government funded projects to ensure proper utilization of expertise, funds and time
  • Senior Citizens having more time on their hands to be watchdogs of governance
  • Seniors can inspire the younger generation
  • They need to periodically update their knowledge and skills to be abreast with the changes
  • Database of expertise of the elders who are willing to share the knowledge will be provided to the CII to facilitate easy access to the same when needed
  • Senior citizens to be offered part-time consultancy jobs
  • Curriculum to be redesigned incorporating valuable advice from the senior citizens
  • Voluntary organizations of senior citizens to explore avenues of active collaboration with academia, industry and government
  • Impart moral education to the younger generation
  • Be role models for the youth
  • Create a senior citizens’ forum
  • Create a portal
  • Share experiences
  • Follow your heart and do what is your passion
  • Contribute individually/collectively to achieve casteless society and economic growth
  • To act as mentors for start-ups
  • Keep learning throughout life and lead a disciplined life
  • Enjoy benefits of group living
  • Be active – if you rest, you rust
  • Teach values of life to children
  • Conduct classes for children-in-need
  • Visit sick people in hospitals/homes to cheer them etc.

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