Skip to main content

Precarious Lives of Older Widows in India and Legal Provisions

  • Living reference work entry
  • First Online:
Handbook of Aging, Health and Public Policy


Age, gender, and class intersect in complex ways to produce unique challenges for older women in India. The vulnerabilities of older widows may exacerbate owing to their financial dependency on kin and various disabilities in late life. Considered as a “burden,” they are often shunned by the family and discarded by society. This chapter explores the plight of older widows who are abandoned by their kin in religious places (such as the widows of Vrindavan) and discusses the limitations of various legal provisions for them.

The callous remark made by a member of the Indian Parliament in 2014 about a large number of widows who migrate to Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, vis-à-vis the social realities of their conditions reveals the dismissive attitude toward concerns of older widows. The politician’s remarks reflect the lack of (political) interest in improving the conditions of older widows in places like Vrindavan and the disconnectedness of politicians from the social reality. However, the commentator also blames the state governments from where the widows emigrate for not providing enough care to these widows. Inadvertently though, this observation has some merit to it (even though the contextual justification was grossly misplaced). There is a need not only for the state governments but for nation-wide implementation and monitoring of existing provisions. The state’s role in creating safe spaces for older widows in society and to cater to their mental and physical health needs has been underscored in this chapter.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Institutional subscriptions



  • Amruth Kumar v AN Vanitha and Ors, MANU/KA/3811/2019.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dincy Devassy v United India Insurance Co. & Ors, MANU/DE/4702/2019.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Deblina Dey .

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this entry

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Dey, D. (2022). Precarious Lives of Older Widows in India and Legal Provisions. In: Handbook of Aging, Health and Public Policy. Springer, Singapore.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-1914-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-1914-4

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Social SciencesReference Module Humanities and Social SciencesReference Module Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Publish with us

Policies and ethics