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What is Kerala’s ‘Bell of Faith’?

As we deal with unpredictable times and battling crises never known before. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented fear and uncertainty, especially among the elderly population. The concept of the nuclear family has seen a rapid emergence and ageing parents away from their children. 

 The elderly population accounted for 7.4% of the total population in 2001, 8.6% in 2011 and has been projected to increase to 19% by the year 2050 in India. It is predicted that the elderly will constitute about 34% of the total population in the country by the end of the 21st century. According to some studies, India is ageing much faster than previously thought and may have nearly 20 percent of the population of 60 years and above by 2050. The government recently stated in Parliament that India will have 34 crore people above 60 years of age by 2050 which would be more than the total population of the US.

In India, the elderly people suffer from dual medical problems, i.e. both communicable as well as non-communicable diseases. It is estimated that one out of two elderly in India suffers from at least one chronic disease like diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension, COPD, thyroid disorders, heart diseases which requires life-long medication.

Senior citizens face several challenges other than degrading health and with poverty and lack of income security, it becomes manifold difficult. Even basic needs like food, housing, healthcare, etc., gets difficult for a large number of senior citizens. However, access to institutional support and specialized medical care is not uniform, while it may be easier to avail services in urban areas but a large number of the elderly who live in rural areas miss out on the services and are often unable to reach out to people for help.

There is no proper channel to meet the demand of the elderly, keeping aside the need for companionship, they often are unable to communicate for their basic needs. Furthermore, there is a shortage of well-trained personnel for delivering caregiving and other services for senior citizens. In the wake of the pandemic adding to the miseries of the elderly people, the Kerala city police have started installing wireless emergency bells covering select houses in the city.

What is the ‘Bell of Faith’ scheme all about?

  • The ‘Bell of Faith’ scheme will now be implemented for senior citizens staying alone in villages.
  • It is a safety project conceived under Kerala’s Community Policing Scheme.
  • It will help elderly citizens attract the attention of their neighbours using a loud, remote-controlled alarm in emergencies.
  • It has been under implementation in Kerala since 2018.

What is community-based policing?

  • It is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

The quality of the relationship between community groups, civilians and local security personnel — usually the police — is often the determining factor in the problem-solving of the community. 

Importance of the Project:

  • It sets an example for community participation to ensure the well-being and safety of the elderly.
  • It can be of great support for the aged during the COVID-19 pandemic as many live in fear for their health.

District Police Chief (Kozhikode City) A.V. George said the project was one of the newest schemes proposed by the community policing wing for the safety of senior citizens. The electronic bells installed free of cost with a wireless control mechanism, will help senior citizens in quickly seeking the support of neighbours during emergencies. Citizens above 70 years of age and having mobility issues would be given preference under the scheme the Hindu reported.

Previously, this scheme was successfully implemented in a number of urban households in Kerala

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