Dr. Amita Joseph
Director, Business & Community Foundation (BCF)
It is high time that no one is left behind, in the current interconnected world, we have to help the elderly to learn and reap the benefits of the digital era. In India, there are 106 million elderly of which 98 % of them do not use mobile phones or mobile phones or internet. Even Government of India has not included then in the new Digital India program. We are starting to believe that discrimination on the basis of age is becoming a common practice in India and now also extends to the digital world.
In 2004, the Tsunami affected lakhs of people on the coast of Tamil Nadu. Helpage realizes that the best way to rehabilitate the elderly is by organising elders into self-help groups around the coast of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam. These groups of elders have created institutions and federated them as district level federations and formed a state level federation called Elders for Elders. It has become a movement for financial inclusion. Their Chairman is Valliammal from the fishing community in Nagapattinam and the district Federation is chaired by Vishalakshi, with support from Digital Empowerment Foundation,
HelpAge India and EFE have created Digital empowerment centers for the elderly. Today, older people from these communities are building centres across the state. Fishing communities are using these digital resources, so that the natural disaster warnings and future catastrophic events can be prevented or at least can be prepared for. Elders are leading the way to enable the SDG vision of leaving no one behind.