Pastime in CMIG
A rewarding experience for the elderly

Indrani Chakravarty

Paper presented at the conference Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction: Lessons From Eastern India, 25-27 September 2001
By Indrani Chakravarty, Director, Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology

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Background of Beneficiaries
Productive Program –(I)
Productive Program – (II)
Value Addition to Beneficiaries

Computer Training in CMIG
Elements of CMIG Computer Course


Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology (CMIG), is a non-profit, voluntary organisation covers Research, Publication, Training, Service programs within the domain of gerontology. Calcutta is one of the four metropolis in India and one of the most populous city in the world. There are 75,000 aged slum dwellers in the city. CMIG has 752 beneficiaries which is one percent of the total elderly populative living in slum areas under CMC area. Out of 70 million Indian elderly a majority have come from jobs that lack retirement benefits. The plight of them are also multiplied as joint family breaks down and traditional values are making a rapid exit. To provide a meaningful life to the elderly and to integrate them with the mainstream of the society, Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology (CMIG), a non-profit, secular organisation has designed and carefully evaluated number of programs for the elderly belonging to different SES.

Background of Beneficiaries

The beneficiaries have no formal education with very low physical capacity. Majority of them are females, widows and belong to 65-75 years of age. All of them live below the poverty line with avarage household income of Rs. 685 per month. They also suffer from multiple diseases along with vitamin deficiencies like A, B2, B6, C, & D.

In the approach of CMIG conditioning is very important. Beneficiaries of CMIG’s Day Care Units receive weekly ration, regular tiffin, clothes, recreational facilities, counselling for mental health. They get free medicine & free treatment from our centre. Our service is free but the  financial assistance we receive from the government is just not sufficient for us to provide any costly medicinal support to our beneficiaries. To make the service available to the elderly, professionals and experts of our organisation do resort to cost effective medicines, tapping locally available resources.

Productive Program – (I)

50 beneficiaries of Day Care Units produce paper bags. Local markets in and around our centres have demand for paper bags as the polythene packs are not ecofriendly and coloured types are banned. Paper bags generate low income in the market, therely not liked by youngsers. Basic raw material – news papers are received free from donars, well wishers and also from neighbours. It does not need any extensive vocational traings, the frail elderly can take part in the program. On the avarage they can Rs. 4 /- perday by which they earn just manage to have one meal at night.

Productive Program – (II)

CMIG runs another income generating Program for the poor which is very remunerative but needs extensive vocational training. Making stationary goods like envelopes, Files, Folder making. Papermade varieties are gaining popularity because they are eco friendly. Envelopes out of hand made papers are liked by posh book stores of the city and corporate houses. Demand for greeting cards on various occasions is sky rocketing. CMIG has resource persons for design,training,selling.

Value Addition to Beneficiaries

Computer Training in CMIG

CMIG is the only institute in eastern India which has introduced Computer Training Course for elderly and it is a pleasure to see how eagerly aged people have joined these courses and are visibly satisfied to find themselves capable of contributing to overall social productivity.

Elements of CMIG Computer Course are:

Basic concepts of micro-computer architecture and its operation; Disk operating system MS-DOS commands; Word-processing programmes; Data-base management systems; and networking between computers. Trainess also attend the popular lecture series in different areas of computer communications symbiosis.

98 senior citizens completed the course and 16 are waiting for their turn. This training program itself adds an area of confidence and achievement in the waning phase of life. CMIG acts as an opportunity centre for the aged familiar with the specially designed computer course.

Cyber Kiosk opening at faster rate in all cities needs commercial manager. Elderly person with low salary and proven record of integrity are preferred. Publihers often request CMIG for retired academician with computer background for editing texts in PC. Beyound the role of a service provider to elderly, CMIG is also a meeting place for ages wisdom and experience. Interaction and sharing of views by senior citizens at this forum on various issues of life is a rewarding pastime.


The approach & strategy of the CMIG develop a model which gives much strees on the active and productive involvement of older persons and not just their care. It recognises that by far the larger population of the elderly retain minimal physical and mental health to remain economically functional.