Nepalese society is built along the ancient Vedic tradition preached by the Hindu philosophy of life. Spiritualism still runs deep in the Nepalese way of life although modern day materialism has become increasingly prevalent. The global economic wave has hit the Himalayan Kingdom too, however, the God-fearing Nepalis’ faith in values they cherish is far from wavering and the temples, shrines, monasteries and divine abodes still draw throngs with the never-waning fatalistic drive.
The elderly population never poses a problem in the Himalayan Kingdom, the home of nearly 25 million people. Although impoverished and underdeveloped, the deep-seated Hindu values create a society at large that still considers the elderly pitri (divine) and reveres them. The Hindu tradition rooted in holy scriptures calls for sons to look after and take care of fathers. It is not merely a social obligation but a ritual having religious undercurrents. The ritual is supported unflinchingly among middle-class and higher Hindu families, although grinding poverty at lower levels causes more difficulty. Unfortunately, the kingdom that lived in peace and harmony for ages bleeds now. Maoist insurgency rains terror on the hills, forcing people to flee. Those putting up resistance are hacked to death or cower in their homes. The youth flee for their lives and the elders are left to their lot. The helpless elders with no more home care and support come to the urban centers where they face the ugly realities of life. The vicious cycle of conflict has driven a large number of children and elderly to a helpless status with no roof overhead.
While the conflict remains at the heart of problem, the cutthroat life brought about by the global economic system has also exacerbated the problem to some extent. The problem is further compounded by increasing poverty. These causes lie behind the problems that the aging population in Nepal faces. Nevertheless, Hindu values are still at work to manage the problem. In Nepal, there are numerous homes for the elderly run by Guthis of the religious institutions. They feed them, clothe them and inspire them to live a spiritual life exhibited by the Vedas. Such efforts by Hindu centers of religion notwithstanding, the elderly are found living under mental and psychological stress. Most of them sheltered in homes run by religious charities would prefer a life with their family at home. Equally, resources must be spent to ease the lives of the people at a lower level to enable them take care of their elderly family members. The need of the hour is to negotiate peace with the agents of blood-letting and restore peace in the kingdom, which would allow the elderly driven from homes to go back to the hills and live their remaining life in peace and tranquility. This would to a larger extent solve the problems of aging in a country that has a tradition of caring well for the elderly.