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Longevity and social gestures
Healthy lifespan of a hundred years is our moonshot opportunity
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
With these words, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. This was July 1969. Since then, countries have sent many missions to the moon, to a point that it is so achievable that we focus on other parts of space. Regardless, this remains one of the most inspiring moments in the history of space exploration, and human achievements.
The lesser known fact is that eight years before the actual landing, the then American President Kennedy spoke directly to the public, in what is popularly known as the Moonshot Speech. Endevours where you set lotfy targets - moonshots - derive their popularity from this speech.
In the longevity space, living hundred years healthily (healthspan) has somewhat become the moonshot towards which many researchers around the world are working towards.
According to the 2015 UN world population prospects report, the number of centenarians (people living to the age of hundred) rose from 95,000 in 1990 to 451,000 in 2015, and estimated to be over 3.7 million by 2050. In short, around 24 out of 100 adults over the age of 65 years is likely to be a centenarian, in 2050.
If one were to embed longevity messaging across India, it would require us to appreciate the lingustic and cultural diversity of the land. But thankfully, I did not have to look far beyond the birthday greeting.
Tum Jiyo Hazaron Saal (तुम जियो हजारों साल), which translates to “May you live a thousand years” is a popular birthday song from the movie, Sujata. It was sung by Asha Bhosle, a legend in her own right, and the younger sister of Lata Mangeshkar, lovingly called the “Nightingale of India”. It is a wonderful example of how a popular birthday wish weaved into a song popularized it ever more, and has now become the de facto birthday song for many families. Or maybe it was the other way round?
It is likely you receive and also wish family members, friends and neighbors on occasions like birthdays, weddings, etc, in your mother tongue and songs of your choice.
In Kannada, the birthday wish ನಿಮ್ಮ ಜನ್ಮದಿನದ ಶುಭಾಶಯಗಳು. ನೀವು 100 ವರ್ಷ ಸುಖವಾಗಿ ಬಾಳಲಿ translates to “Best wishes for your birthday. May you live 100 years happily!”
In Tamil, நூறாண்டு காலம் நலமாக வாழ்க translates to “May you live a good and healthy life for a hundred years!”
While they may seem routine, and there are enough internet postcards to share, these wishes continue to be relevant and endearing. Many languages and cultures across the sub-continent, and likely outside, seem to embed longevity into social gestures and blessings.
Given we are likely to live longer than the previous generations, the question truly is, what does living a hundred years mean?
I attempted to expand this question in one of my previous essays, capturing some of the research around the world in understanding and designing for 100 year lives.
Ifyour birthday is round the corner, and when people wish you a long, healthy and happy life, remember it is doable, and also achievable.
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