From 1971 to 2008

An Ageing Queen

Many developed countries in the world are now facing a race with time (not against it).  The ever-developing countries are relatively young and have different problems that come with a young population.  However, a young headache is considered better than an old one.

Queen Elizabeth II symbolizes an ageing developed world.   She represents a generation that has grown old in a developed world, when most of the developing world has grown young.  We will not go on the line of argument that she has been one of the privileged to have aged gracefully in a difficult world.  We are just looking at her as a woman who has become old over the years.

The Queen’s generation also represents the biggest group of pensioners, retired public servants, old-age benefit seekers and the group that needs constant access to health services.  Although this profile can describe any greying population, a shortage of younger population which can take care of the elderly is a serious concern, which bothers only the developed world. It so happens that most people in developed world also believe (more or less) in independent living from an early age, which can make them more vulnerable in their twilight years.  Because of their evolved life styles, now a situation has come in which the governments have to provide for both care for the elderly as well as incentives for fertility.  It appears that a life that is ‘too proud’ to go back to a shared living may be the reason behind this problem.  The shortage of younger people is just a symptom.

Now, have a look at the images I have clicked of the Queen embossed on coins since the 1970s.  I have deliberately chosen the backgrounds. Click on the image to see an enlarged version.

From 1971 to 2008
An Ageing Queen

It is refreshing to see these coins keeping up with time and updating their images once in every ten years or so.  You can also see the emphasis on the detail.  The ability of a typical western civilization to see any element in detail is tremendous. However, in that process it compromises continuity and fails to see any problem in its entirety.  It knows that the problem is here to stay.  It remembers the past but struggles (often fails) to draw important conclusions from it to understand the present and decide a future.

In India, coins and currency notes have had dead and old politicians, endangered wild life,  and an old ‘n’ stuck Mahatma Gandhi’s picture on them as long as I can remember.  Because of either economic reasons or our lifestyle that has evolved in a different direction, we are aware of better ways to deal with age.  Perhaps, it is also important to remember that we learned it long ago.  Learning from the past is different from remembering what we have learnt in the past.



3 thoughts on “An Ageing Queen”

  1. Well written Srikanta. Showing the aging queen was brilliant! Its a fact that many western countries have negative birth rates and struggling to cope with the need for able man power. We have too much of the latter and no way of controlling it. It is always a trade off and I would advise neither of the above scenarios for a stable soceity. Its not just our past that makes us do whatever we are doing, its also our present societal pressures. An Indian family which might have had two children if they were to stay in India would have one child (possibly) if they were to stay in one of the countries with low birth rates. Their past and what they have learnt from that has not changed, its their present which masks the past. Most of us live in the present and its evident from the choices we make. Our roots will remain strong as long as you have pressure on them to keep them stuck in the ground. When there is no force, if its not very deep, it will get uprooted very easily! We accept aging more gracefully than our western counterparts, but we also get old too soon! For us, 30 is quite old, but for a developed country, 30 is very young!! This irony cannot be ruled out when we talk about aging gracefully!

    Lekha, your point on aging in the 30s could be true. I would like to emphasize the fact that aging gracefully is not in the way a person looks rather in the way a person is seen (treated). Yes, it is not uncommon in the western world to see 40+ year old (first time) mothers. However, it has got nothing to do with living a lonely life in a mansion. There were many reports recently of 80+ year olds dieing in their snow trapped houses because of no-one knew of their existence.

  2. Nice…i like the way you describe ‘’
    here “com” means “community”..ofcourse “Human Community”

    Raju, you always come up with unseen ‘extensions’ of any idea. Fantastic!

  3. As the technology develops, younger generation likes to be independent, which may be good for some days but will not be true for long. To establish a good society it is necessary to have family relationships and guidance from elders. Then the future generation will be of good morals and there is no need for older people to suffer.

    Happy to see your comment Manjunath. Your worldview is time tested and will be successful. I only hope that there are many like you who understand where all of us come from.

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