Elderly Persons in Tribal Societies by Amrita Bagga

Elderly Persons in Tribal Societies by Amrita Bagga

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Research on ageing in India had rather a slow beginning. Concern for the fast ageing population has already started to emerge as a major issue, largely being documented in urban and rural populations. Studies focusing on elderly persons living in remote areas so far removed from the main stream- often not easily inaccessible have remained largely neglected by the researchers in the field as well as the policy planners. To travel to such far flung areas crossing difficult terrains could be one of the deterring factors. Nonetheless, one of the reasons for such omission that emerges is that the aged among the tribals are ‘assumed’ to be looked after well by their families (typical view of the administrators).
Unfortunately tribal realities have changed immensely in recent times. Migration of young men and women alike is taking place rampantly, leaving behind their old parents and grandparents. In last few decades the average life span of the tribals has also increased. While earlier only young men would migrate leaving their women folk behind, the agricultural phenomenon was viewed as feminization of farming, but now it is leading to geronto-farming because of the youth migrating taking their families along. Only the elderly are seen working in the fields. In times of need eg an health emergency, their dependency on the neighbors is much increased and uncertain. Understanding the situation of elderly persons in tribal societies is of immense significance today.
Against the above- stated backdrop, present research took shape to have an insight into the situation of elderly men and women in tribal societies as it prevails today seeking answers to some pertinent questions. Are they really as secure in their families’ folds today as has been generally assumed? Does their intergenerational bonding continue to be as strong as before? In other words, are they being well taken care –of?
While these questions are commonplace and obvious, the answers and methods of determining them are rather complex.
Taking a cue from Rev. Bodding (1865 – 1938) present study Elderly Persons in Tribal Societies fills the void also addressing some such questions about the health, care and the attitude of the elders about life satisfaction and death as experienced by them today.
Though not a text book, the book enriched with primary data, would serve as a useful reference document in universities and colleges teaching gerontology and geriatrics; research institutes, non government organizations working in the fields of health and welfare of the tribal communities; and policy planners in the State and Central Ministries to help them understand the magnitude of the problems of the elderly living in tribal belts, the central premise of this book.

About the Author

Amrita Bagga (b.1947) is Professor of Anthropology having received her Master’s from University of Delhi, and as an Indian Council of Medical Research Fellow, a Ph.D. from University of Pune. She joined the same department as an Assistant Professor later retiring as Chairperson of the Department of Anthropology; University of Pune (Now renamed SPPU), India.

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