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Time Bank: A Swiss Concept, Should India Adopt This Initiative?

Switzerland Allows Citizens To ‘ Save & Deposit Their Time’ In Time Banks.

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Discover the innovative concept of Time Bank in Switzerland, where individuals exchange services and skills without the need for money. Explore how this unique system promotes community building, fosters social connections, and empowers individuals to contribute their time and expertise for the benefit of others.

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Introduction

We’ve all heard the saying “Time is Money,” right? It means that time is really important, just like money. But did you know that in Switzerland, people can actually save and deposit their time in banks? They can even trade it for things they need! It might sound crazy, but it’s true.

The Time Bank Concept

The Swiss Ministry of Health came up with the idea of the Time Bank as a way to help older people. Time Bank is a cool idea where people can exchange their time to help others. It’s like a barter system, but instead of trading goods, you trade your time. When you help someone, you earn credits that you can use when you need help in return. For example, if you’re good at giving advice, babysitting, gardening, or tutoring, you can offer your time to help others. It’s all about being kind and helping each other out.

How Does It Work?

People can volunteer to take care of elderly individuals who need assistance. The hours they spend with or caring for seniors are then saved in their own social security account. The Time Bank keeps track of the hours you spend providing these services. When these volunteers become older and need help themselves, they can use the hours they saved in the Time Bank to get the support they need.

Let’s say you spend an hour helping your neighbor with gardening. That hour gets logged into your account as a credit. Later on, when you need someone to walk your dog because you’re busy, you can use that credit to ask for help. It’s a way to build a community where everyone supports each other.

Time Banks Around the World

The city of St. Gallen in Switzerland tried out the Time Bank idea, and it worked really well. They had volunteers who took care of elderly people and earned credits for their time. When those volunteers got older and needed help themselves, they could use the credits they earned to get assistance from other volunteers. It created a system of support and care.

Surprisingly, Switzerland isn’t the only country with a Time Bank. Around 34 countries have already started using this concept. The United Kingdom adopted the Time Bank plan in 2000, and other countries like the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and Greece have also joined in. Even Singapore is thinking about starting its own Time Bank.

Should India Consider the Time Bank Initiative?

India’s Time Bank

Did you know that India also has a Time Bank? In 2018, a panel of the National Human Rights Commission recommended that India adopt the Time Bank scheme. Following that, Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to open a Time Bank in 2019. And just recently, they gained 1500 new members in 2023!

Challenges to Consider

But here’s the thing: Time Bank works best when people have enough time to spare and don’t need to worry about making money. In countries where people have to work hard to support their families, it’s harder for them to give their time for free. They have more immediate concerns in their daily lives.

A Solution for India’s Seniors

India is facing a growing population of senior citizens. More and more elderly people are living alone because their children are busy with their own lives. What India needs is a solution that helps seniors live in a community where all their needs are taken care of. Senior living communities can be the answer, but the government needs to make sure these services are available and affordable for everyone.

Supporting Our Parents and Seniors

The government is taking steps to support seniors through the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019. This bill expands the definition of “children” to include adoptive children and children-in-law. It also includes grandparents in the definition of “parents.” The bill ensures that seniors have access to healthcare, safety, and security, and removes the cap on maintenance charges.

The Power of Time Bank in Senior Living Communities

In senior living communities, Time Bank can be a great tool to bring residents together and create a supportive environment. When everyone values their time and helps each other, it strengthens the community bonds.

Conclusion

Time Bank is a wonderful concept that promotes kindness and support among individuals. While it may face challenges in countries like India, it can thrive in environments where people have fulfilled their responsibilities and can dedicate their time to helping others. Senior living communities can be the perfect place to implement Time Bank and create a strong network of mutual support.