There is a necessity to create age-friendly environments. The relevance of assistive technology to depend upon in order to reduce the dependency of elderly on other individuals and human care systems are imperative.

On the occasion of the International Day for Older Persons, #IMPRI Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a webinar on The State of Cities – #CityConversations with Prof Ajith Kaliyath on Addressing Equity through Planning and Placemaking: Age-Friendly Communities.

The speaker Prof Ajith Kaliyath is the Urban Chair Professor, Centre for Urban Governance, Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), Thrissur. The program was chaired by Dr. Rumi Aijaz, Senior Fellow and Head, Urban Policy Research Initiative, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi. Prof. Ryan Woolrych, Professor, Ageing and Urban Studies; Director, The Urban Institute (TUI), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and Dr. Anagha Tendulkar, Head & Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Sophia College for Women, Mumbai joined as the discussants of the program.

Prof. Rumi explained how little we discuss about such a relevant topic. The number of publications on such an important topic is relatively very less. There exists a need to discuss more on such important topics. He added about the necessity to implement the sustainable development goals, especially housing. Kerala has the highest population of elderly population of the nation, he added.

Rumi Aijaz

Kerala is rapidly urbanizing; the very same way Kerala is ageing as per Dr. Ajith. On 14th December 1990 UN designated October 1 as International Day of Older Persons. The theme for the year is Digital Equity for all Ages. On 14th December 2020, UN General Assembly declared 2021-30 as the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. The 4 agendas of the decade include: combating ageism, age-friendly environments, integrated care, Long-Term Care

Dr. Ajith shared the American Planning Commission’s 6 guiding policies for planners which are: 

  1. Actively engage the ageing perspective in the planning process. 
  2. Provide a range of affordable housing options. 
  3. Ensure a variety of quality transport options. 
  4. Interconnection among housing, transport, healthcare, recreation, human services and community engagement. 
  5. Local economic development policies that support older adults remaining in the workforce longer. 
  6. Strengthen the community assets and support for older adults. 

Dr. Ajith explained about the cohousing communities. He insisted on the necessity to create ageing friendly environments. He emphasized the relevance of assistive technology to depend upon in order to reduce the dependency of elderly on other individuals and human care systems. He appreciated the Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana and National Action Plan for Senior Citizens.

Dr. Anagha Tendulkar explained about how elders can contribute towards urbanism. The urban population has been completely repugnant to the elderly population who have retired. They do not seem to understand the possibilities of reemployment to the workforce. Dr. Anagha explained the importance of staggered retirement. She questioned why this is not happening in urban areas like Mumbai. Mumbai has not been kind to the elderly population.

Anagha Tendulkar

Prof. Ryan Woolrych explained the case studies he had done at Hyderabad, Kolkata and Delhi. With the average life expectancy being increased from 60 to 80 there are different age cohorts, and lots of ageing experiences in that age group. According to him, in the UK, those with cognitive decline, mobility difficulties and those experiencing frailty are the ones often disconnected from the communities. 

Ryan Woolrych

The speakers as well as the discussants have unanimously agreed with each other regarding the necessity to discuss the topic more in detail and to take this issue more seriously. Dr. Ajith extended his sincere gratitude to the IMPRI for having hosted such a relevant debate. The vote of thanks was proposed by Dr. Rumi Ajias, and the webinar ended. 

YouTube Video #CityConversations | E37 | Dr Ajith Kaliyath | Addressing Equity through Planning and Placemaking

Acknowledgement: Abraham Joseph is a research intern at IMPRI.

Picture courtesy: Simply CVR/Flickr [Licensed under CC by 2.0]