Fellow Since 1991
Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology (CMIG)
This profile was prepared when Indrani Chakravarty was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
In 1982, when Indrani first visited Japan as part of her Ph.D. research on retired people, she saw something she had never seen in her own country: clubs, restaurants, and libraries exclusively for the aged. She saw an entire network of geriatric units, including the enormous Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, and nutritional support, recreational, psychological, and counseling services designed strictly for people over sixty. Having studied issues surrounding gerontology in India for over three years, she decided that India shared the need for support structures for the elderly.The Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, founded by Indrani in 1988, now serves as a base for her myriad of smaller ideas, all intended to provide a meaningful life for people over sixty. These ideas include a mobile medical care unit, medical centers located in slum areas (that would also provide food, clothes, and blankets), recreational programs, a home for the abandoned elderly, a library, an adult literacy program, a lobbying drive for special seats for the elderly on Calcutta's buses, a computer training program, and various postretirement job opportunities. She has also established the first journal in India, Aging, that covers issues specifically concerning people over sixty.One of Indrani's ideas is to train elderly people in simple computer data entry, which is the kind of work she believes many companies will be willing to contract out to elderly people. She also plans to win employment for retired people in such positions as phone managers and in various cottage industries. "Ultimately,"says Indrani,"our objective is to create an awareness by our services so that our society, government, and other public organizations recognize the problem as a social problem and can take remedial measures."