“Mother” is probably the most significant, important, and relevant word in our lives.

Kallol Kirity Singha 


“Mother” is probably the most significant, important, and relevant word in our lives. She gives birth to us, nurtures us in her womb for more than nine months, and takes utmost care of us in every step of our upbringing. She is undoubtedly the person who loves us the most in this world. The ancient scriptures of India place “Mother” on a pedestal: “Janani janmabhoomischa swargaadapi gariyasi,”  which means “Mother and Motherland are greater than heaven” from the Ramayana, is an apt Sanskrit description of this sentiment.

But the irony is that these days, there’s a vast gap between practicality and idealism. We can say this because these nurturing hands that caressed the child to sleep at night, those lips that used to sing lullabies and kiss the young ones goodbye to school, and then to college, lie forlorn in old age homes today.

Such is the disturbing trend gaining momentum in Indian society today. What might be the reasons? We can only conjecture. It could be the fast-paced urban life of today, combined with the erosion of traditional values, the increase in the number of nuclear families, etc. Surprisingly, the presence of old age homes is no longer restricted to urban areas only.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, has experienced a dramatic demographic transition in the past 50 years, entailing almost a tripling of the population over the age of 60 (i.e., the elderly) (Government of India, 2011). This pattern is poised to continue. It is projected that the proportion of Indians aged 60 and older will rise from 7.5% in 2010 to 11.1% in 2025 (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs [UNDESA], 2008). This is a small percentage point increase, but a remarkable figure in absolute terms. According to UNDESA data on the projected age structure of the population (2008), India had more than 91.6 million elderly in 2010, with an annual addition of 2.5 million elderly between 2005 and 2010. The number of elderly in India is projected to reach 158.7 million in 2025 (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2008) and is expected, by 2050, to surpass the population of children below 14 years.

As of July 2023, India had around 728 old age homes, mostly run by NGOs. About 46% of these homes are free, while the rest are pay-and-stay. On the contrary, in the United States of America, there were more than 15,300 nursing homes (old age homes are known as such in the US) in the year 2020, with facilities for more than 1.6 million elderly inhabitants, as per a report by the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), USA. This is in stark contrast to the Indian scenario today.

Nevertheless, this rising trend shouldn’t be ignored, and it is the moral responsibility of the young generation in the country today to uphold the family value system and imbibe the same love and care showered on us by our parents. Last but not least, I would like to quote a proverb I read in school: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” It is very fortunate for anyone to have a mother. Everyone isn’t as fortunate to have an ageing mother. So on this Mother’s Day, I convey my deepest reverence to all the mothers in the country and the world. Happy Mother’s Day!

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