Elderly Tibetans in a sunny twilight


May 3, 2007 1:01 am

Elderly Tibetans in a sunny twilight

Thursday, 3 May 2007, 2:23 p.m.


There are about 14,000 elderly people of above 60 years old in the exile Tibetan community.

Dharamshala: Despite the growing trend from extended to nuclear family, or the absence of any old-age pension scheme, the elderly Tibetans in exile appear to have been putting up quite well–thanks to a robust family value system.

More than 800 people of above 60 years old are currently lodged at 14 elderly people’s homes run by the Department of Home.

In the year 2005-6, some 150 new elderly destitute–who are single or without anyone supporting them–were admitted in these homes across India and Nepal.

However, none of these elderly destitute are those abandoned by their family. “Such cases are almost non-existent,” says Topgyal Tsering, head of the welfare section of Home Department.

“The traditional values of fulfilling one’s filial duties still run deep in our society,” Tsering adds.

“Occasionally, we do come across families, who are too poor to look after themselves, let along look after their grown-ups.”

In such cases, the breakdown of family unit is averted by providing monthly allowance to the elderly members of a destitute family.

Under its sponsorship programme, the Department at present provides monthly allowance to nearly 3,000 elderly destitute of above 60 years of age. The monthly allowance ranges from Rs. 500 to Rs 1,000.

The Department is currently building a new home for elderly people at Chauntra Tibetan settlement in Himachal Pradesh, with funding from the England-based Help Tibet.

Expected to be functional this July, the two-storey building will accommodate about 40 to 50 elderly people, primarily from the region of Kullu and Manali.

In addition to the 14 elderly people’s homes run by the Department, about six similar homes run by non-governmental organisations in India and Nepal are accommodating some 350 people.

Various NGOs also provide monthly allowance to a significant number of elderly destitute in both India and Nepal.