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Tulsi Patel

THE GREYING OF INDIA: POPULATION AND AGEING IN THE CONTEXT OF ASIA
By Rajagopal Dhar Chakraborti
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 467, Rs. 680.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 3 March 2005

From 20.02 million (5.6%) in 1950 the aged (60 years ) in India have increased to 77.03 million (7.6%) in 2000. The number of elderly has tripled over the last 50 years and the same would happen in the next 50 years with over 21% of the population in India being the old. Demographic transition is taking place in India with a surprisingly rapid speed. ‘Rapid ageing’ in most of Asia and its socio-economic impact, especially including health and family dimensions are the causes for concern in the book. Though there are variations within Asia in terms of demographic transition, life expectancy (66 years for males and 69 for females in 2000) and a relatively low mortality and fertility is influencing population ageing. Though this kind of demographic trends of low mortality and fertility have been conventionally considered desirable, it throws up newer challenges, especially in the light of the experiences of the already grey nations. The proportion of grey people in India too is expected to grow rather rapidly over the next 50 years. It is now being called the ‘age quake’ or a ‘demographic time bomb’ states Tim Dyson, an expert demographer on India in the foreword to this book. This changing trend has led to a definite shift in the way of thinking about demographic processes, particularly towards that of high fertility since the Second World War.   Rajagopal Dhar Chakraborti’s concern in the book is along the above lines. The book has six chapters. The first two contextualize ageing in India and discuss the causes of rapid demographic transition. Japan leads the list of rapid ageing in Asia. Its fertility decline was so rapid that in 10 years its crude birth rate (CBR) was halved from 34.3 per 1000 population in 1947 to 17.2 in 1957 and is 10 at present. It has reached the final stage of demographic transition. Cross-country and regional comparisons are made through regression equations and correlation coefficients in the book. The third chapter explores what ageing is. The remaining three chapters relate ageing to development (especially with respect to labour supply, technological innovations, family care, deprivation, dependence, etc.), status of the elderly (with an insightful analysis of the complexity of migration processes and the elderly).   The last of the chapters seeks a graceful ageing. There are five appendices pertaining to legal and policy provisions, health conditions, statutory retirement age, followed by a glossary of relevant demographic terms. Chakraborti provides sufficient evidence of being on the faculty of Calcutta University’s Department of South ...


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