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Godhūlikāla: India's forgotten elders


The following video clips are from a short interview with Kenemlam, an elder living in a government run care home in Dari, Dharamshala. Followed by short clips from this care home, a worker Madan Lal and the Head of the establishment Anil Sharma.

 

Madan Lal, video clip –

 

Anil Sharma, video clip –

 

 

 

Godhūlikāla: India's Forgotten Elders

I set out to investigate the distressing trend of elder abuse and abandonment and travelled through many villages of northern India for two months in 2014. What I found was extremely alarming. Instances and stories of elders being ill treated at home or turned out by their children were numerous. Such elders are forced to tolerate the abuse for the sake of ‘family honour’, or live on the street or, if they are fortunate, enter a ‘poor house’ or ‘old people’s home’. At one village, the local residents led me to a government run home for the aged. The conditions there were appalling. Sadly, instead of seeking to remedy the situation in that home, it appears that vested interests with a stake in maintaining the status quo had managed to conceal it.

I did, however, succeed in interviewing some of the inmates and record some of their heart rending stories both in still photographs and video clips. At one point a disabled old lady (Chanchondo Devi) grabbed hold of me and wept, “Take me away from here! Take me with you.” I learnt from interviewing her that she had endured many years of abuse at the hands of her own son who would lock her up in the cow shed along with the cows and pass food to her through the window. I met old people who are unable to afford healthcare and suffering immensely as a result. In many cases they have children who are employed but the money they make is not adequate enough for them to help their elders. As a consequence they resort to neglecting them.

My objective is to investigate and dig deeper into this pernicious practice, to document victim’s stories and shed more light on the inherent causes with the aim of initiating a discussion, creating awareness, bringing about change and helping those who need help the most.

“Godhūlikāla: India’s forgotten Elders” is an ongoing photo-documentary in northern India.