Hindustan Times carried a feature last week on the plight of the aged and how large numbers of senior citizens were either abandoned, neglected and victims of violence and fraud by their own children, siblings and family too if I may add. Every aged person interviewed spoke about how they would never take their children to court even if any of them had the energy to do that. I wrote last time about how legislation like the bills on domestic violence and child labour were much awaited. But I am very confused about the one on protecting senior citizens. It is good that it raises the awareness of neglect that the aged population face in India, but it is like expecting the anti-dowry law to give women a better status in society. How the weaker & vulnerable sections are treated in a society, whether children, women, handicapped, the ill, aged or even animals, is the real indicator how culturally advanced the society is.
We've come a long way from the tale of Shravan Kumar in the Ramayan to the last hindi movie on the topic of filial responsibility, Baghban which took this up but the main theme got lost in the babel about how young and glamourous Hema Malini looked, her designer sarees and Amitabh singing Holi Khele Raghuveera. The story line where Amitabh as the neglected parent, has the last laugh when his memoirs become a best seller, simply took the movie into a realm of romanticism, by potraying it as an individual persons triumph over circumstances instead of a grave social issue. But it had it's heart in the right place, especially as it potrayed an adopted son and friends who do more than blood children. The plight of the aged in India only brings home the fact that the primary challenge of parenting today is teaching children values and how to make right choices.