An exceptionally self-effacing social worker who shuns publicity despite his phenomenal services to the elderly in India. He is my mentor Prof. T.K. Nair. He pioneered services for the betterment of the life of India's aged, but remains incognito without seeking any recognition of his work. At a time when the only form of service for the aged in the country was old age homes, he initiated community-based elder care services like day centres, self employment through skill upgradation, family counselling, geriatric social work in hospitals, domiciliary health care, etc.For this purpose he founded the Centre for the Welfare of the Aged (CEWA) in 1979, when I was not even born. The newly established Helpage India in 1978 extended funding support.
"We are particularly pleased to be acting in partnership with the new Centre for the Welfare of the Aged, Madras, to undertake an entirely non-residential service to the aged of that city .This project is pioneering a new field of social service which we hope others will follow "(Helpage India Annual Report, 1980). A strong advocate of "Ageing in Place", he says that institutionalisation of the aged should only be the last option when other alternatives are not available. Even before the United Nations declared October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons, CEWA used to organise Elders' Days. While the Government of India formulated the National Policy on Older Persons in 1999, CEWA formulated a national plan of action in 1985 which was referred to in the Lok Sabha by MP Mr. Basudev Acharya. Prof. Nair facilitated the formation of elders' associations in different communities which were enabled to manage the day centres. CEWA also organised the first national seminar on Elder Abuse . The first national directory of organisations caring for the elderly was also published by CEWA.
First Day centre was at MGR Colony, a slum community
Late Mrs. Tara Cherian, Chairperson of the Tamilnadu Social Welfare Advisory Board, who led a committee of the Central Social Welfare Board in January 1985 made the following observations :
"The members very much appreciated the day centres run by CEWA. They wanted to run such centres all over the country and I am very happy that the programme of yours is very much appreciated".
The Chairman of the Central Social Welfare Board (Mrs. S. Srivastava), who visited one of the day centres on 23-9-1986, observed as follows:
"More such centres are needed not only here but also all over the country so that our older citizens can contribute to the life of emerging India. The CSWB together with organisations such as CEWA will strive for it".
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