Published in Pakistan Observer (1 Oct. 2011)
Islamabad – In this era of technology, with all its advantages, the traditional values and morals are at a greater risk of fading from societies, causing generation gap. This gap is leading to breakdown of traditional values, diminishing the centuries old difference between the eastern and western societies as regard to care of elder members of the family.
Multi-generational families, distinct feature of East, are becoming a thing of the past in many modern Asian cities where today’s young people prefer to maintain their privacy and stay away from traditional united family system. To the misfortune of elder generation, the western concept of nursing homes for veterans is emerging fast in Asian society including Pakistan where young are usually advised to take personal care of their parents respectfully.
According to World Population Ageing Report 2009, in Pakistan the elder population aged 60 or over has grown to 6. 1 per cent and Pakistan ranks at 122 as compared to other countries of the world.
The seriousness of this social factor reflected the concern of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in their messages issued to mark the International Day of Older Persons.
President, in his message, pledged to promote welfare and protection of older persons and assist them in becoming useful citizens of the country. He observed that “in Pakistani society, old age is a mark of respect associated with recognition of wisdom, experience and contributions to family and society and added that “our tradition of giving value to the cause of senior citizens will continue to be reflected in state policies.”
Prime Minister, in his message on the occasion, rightly noted that “parents and grandparents are beacon of light for the younger generation who can learn a lot from their experience.” He reminded that “our religion Islam puts special emphasis on the respect and dignity of the elderly,” ordain its followers to extend extreme amount of care, respect and love to the older persons.
The threat of neglecting the older people is reported increasingly in the urban areas of Pakistan where 65.3 million population live as compare to the adherence of traditional family system in the rural areas where 111.8 million people are located.
In the past the only way of learning was to participate with the older generation, work with them – that was the only way to learn. But according to a noted intellectual and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Professor Jared Diamond, “modern literacy means that we look up things in books or on the Internet – we don’t go ask an old person.” This is how modern literacy and its ties to technology are also putting the elderly at a disadvantage.