According the 2014 World Fact Book, 5.8% of India's 1.2 billion population is above the age of 65 years. In terms of absolute numbers, that is 7,19,43,774 people. A vast majority of these individuals have retired from active employment. Many of them suffer from health issues, but somehow keep going through the rain and shine. What other options do many of them really have?
I observe and converse with many of these men and women at various occasions -- be it a social gathering, at the apartment community events, at the supermarket. They are (extended) family, friends of my parents/in-laws, my friends' parents or my children's friends' grandparents. They are diverse in terms of what they did in their past avatars in life -- from corporate executives to scientists to bankers to teachers to members of the armed forces to entrepreneurs to merchants to hoteliers...
As I ponder about this group of people, I consider some of the defining characteristics that are unique to this generation. One, they have time at hand in an otherwise time-deficit economy. Two, they have real-life experiences and wisdom, which is invaluable. Three, they've completed most of their key life responsibilities in terms of their children and family.
"They want to do something more meaningful and constructive with their time and life. They just don't know what and how."
Yet, many of them lack a purpose in life.
Purpose is that one thing which makes you want to get out of bed every day. Purpose is that fuel which energises you. Purpose is what keeps you going when all the cards are stacked against you. Purpose is that catalyst which helps you cross the chasm. The minute purpose goes out of your life equation, there is a void.
I sense this void in them too.
They want to do something more meaningful and constructive with their time and life. They just don't know what and how.
They want to share their knowledge, experience and wisdom of life. They just don't know who will listen and how to get them to listen.
They want to make a positive difference in their sphere of influence. They just don't know how to go about it.
Many of them expect very basic "compensation" for their time, advice and guidance. For starters, some respect, attentiveness and warmth. They also tend to value simplicity in transactions and operations - for example, they'd rather do what they have to do from within the confines of their homes.
On the other hand, I see younger generations, who believe they are somewhat cool and hot in very many things. Yet they seem to be missing a warmth?
I see nuclear families (with mothers that work and not) that are struggling to raise their children, are torn between the traditional and modern because there is so much to do and so little time at hand. But missing out on an well-meaning guidance and support on a daily basis?
I see a vibrant start-up community and ecosystem in India. They have ideas, dreams, aspirations, passion, an appetite to try and take risks. But missing in experience, mentorship, practical wisdom and foresight?
When I look at the younger and older generations, I think they beautifully complement and supplement each other. What one has the other does not. What one gives the other desires to get.
All that is needed is to bring these worlds together. How? With the power of technology. The answer is really a marketplace ecosystem which brings potential opportunities to the retired workforce. So what does this mean?
For the retired workforce
Step 1: Register with your profile/skills.
Step 2: Search for any opportunity where you think you can/are keen to help.
Step 3: Help in whatever way you can.
On the other side, to post opportunities
Step 1: Register with your profile.
Step 2: Post an opportunity description with what exactly you need.
Sounds simple right? In reality, I know it is way more complicated. Things like background check, validity of the person/group, trust, etc. will need to be addressed.
But here's the thing -- there is an opportunity, be it for businesses, government or even innovative technology solutions. Right?
And whoever addresses this opportunity will be sure to amass the goodwill and blessings of very many. Is good karma lucrative enough? I don't know.
What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know!
Dedicated to D and all those men and women who continue to live their purpose irrespective of age.