Caring India: An Introduction

  • S. Irudaya RajanEmail author
  • Gayathri Balagopal


Ageing is very often construed as a crisis—medical as well as social. This perception is confined not only to the media and academia, but also gets endorsed by the state, which desperately seeks to contain social welfare expenditure on the emerging constituency of elderly persons. Consequently, while making the pitch for targeted social security, the state simultaneously exhorts the family to care for the elderly, invoking Indian tradition, culture and filial piety, ignoring the fact that in the early twentieth century, life expectancy at birth was just 23 years and infectious diseases, which did not require prolonged caregiving, were the leading causes of death. An important feature that characterises social security arrangements in the Indian context is the central role played by the family and limited role of the state in acting as a safety net for the elderly in terms of various forms of support such as co-residence, economic support and caregiving. In this context, the time has come for public policy in developing countries like India to respond to the care needs of the elderly while recognizing that old age vulnerabilities are not a product of old age alone, but are the result of the superimposition of random shocks such as illness on deprivations that have been accumulated over the life course.


Population ageing Economic independence Health status Elder care Care diamond Family care Public policy 



Some parts of this chapter draws on Gayathri Balagopal’s unpublished Ph.D. Thesis entitled “Morbidity, Medical Treatment, Social Care and Economic Support of the Elderly: A Case Study among the Urban Poor in Tamil Nadu State, India” (2009) at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Development StudiesThiruvananthapuramIndia
  2. 2.ChennaiIndia

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