THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 27 August 2020 Let’s Not Shut Out the Old(Indian Express)

Let’s Not Shut Out the Old(Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level: Not much 
Mains level: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections


  • The most vulnerable persons during the COVID pandemic are the elderly. If infected, their odds of survival are the lowest.
  • When shut away to save them from infection, they are likely to suffer from neglect — from lack of care for other ailments, and loneliness.
  • The pandemic has highlighted humanity’s dilemmaof what to do with older people.

Elderly population:

  • Globally, the population aged 65 and over is growing faster than other age groups. Life spans are increasing with better healthcare, nutrition and sanitation.
  • In 2018, for the first time in history, people aged 65 or above outnumbered children. Children are our future, no doubt.
  • However, the changing shape of populations threatens to bankrupt economies.
  • How will fewer young people provide for the care of larger numbers of older persons if the latter no longer contribute to communities?
  • Across the rich world, nearly half of all deaths from COVID-19 have happened in care and nursing homes, even though less than 1 per cent of people live in them.
  • Countries with fewer care homes have had fewer COVID-19 deaths, all else being equal.


  • Older people want to add more life to their years, not more years to their life.
  • As well as exposing fragile business models, the pandemic has highlighted the tension between keeping old people safe and keeping them well.
  • All things must be considered before prescribing strong medicines.
  • Indeed, this is why we are so careful about testing new medicines for COVID-19 before releasing them for public use.
  • The pandemic has revealed many factors that contribute to human well-being.
  • Lockdowns — a strong medicine to prevent COVID-19 deaths — have harmed human well-being in many ways, by other medical problems that could not be attended to and even by starvation in poorer countries due to disruptions of the economy.
  • In India, as elsewhere, attention is focused every day on counting the deaths caused by COVID-19.
  • The other tragedies, though not counted, are visible in heart-rending images of migrants struggling to find succour, and people denied healthcare for other diseases.

Local systems solutions:

  • What we have learned from the pandemic is that local systems solutions, developed and implemented by communities, are necessary to solve complex problems.
  • Communities understand their needs and their capabilities better than experts, who are distant from them.
  • Collaboration on the ground has enabled many communities to prevent the spread of the pandemic, as well as taken care of other needs of their members.
  • In India, Kerala, with its systems of local, collaborative action, seems to have done much better than other states. Internationally, countries with strong local systems have done better.
  • Vietnam seems to have survived the pandemic better than most countries. One reason is the strength of the OPA (Older Persons’ Associations) movement which the government has supported for many years.
  • OPAs operate in all districts of the country. They are adding younger members and transforming themselves into Inter-Generational Self-Help Groups.
  • They take responsibility for the most vulnerable people in their communities — most of whom are older people.
  • They also work with local officials to improve local services and infrastructure for the benefit of the whole community.
  • They are “nodes” in networks of actors who know what is required and who can, working together, improve services for everyone.
  • The older members of these groups are proving to be valuable assets for the community.
  • Moreover, because they are active and they feel valued, they add more good life to their remaining years.


  • Older people have an invaluable role to play in our collective future. We must keep older people engaged, not shut them out to protect their bodies from the virus.
  • Unfortunately, the generic medicine of “physical distancing” to fight the pandemic has been branded as “social distancing”.
  • We need “social cohesion”, not “social distancing”, in communities, and in humanity as a whole, to fight this pandemic and also improve human well-being.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Draft e-pharmacy regulations, consider the following statements:

1. It proposed to define e-pharmacies in a way that would allow them to distribute, sell and stock medicines.
2. The proposed regulations prevent them from selling habit-forming drugs like cough syrups specified in Schedule X of the Indian drug regulations.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1)How COIVD 19 affected older persons? What are the steps need to be taken to resolve this?