Friday, May 27, 2011

Tall Promises for the Welfare of Ex Service Personnel

Union Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju on Sunday 06 feb 2011 at Tadepalligudem said pensions, resettlement and the healthcare of ex-servicemen and widows were on the top of the Defence Ministry's agenda.

Speaking at an Army Mela here, he informed that the government had streamlined the pension payment system. A software was introduced in the Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB) office to check errors in effecting hikes in pensions in line with the Pay Revision Commission (PRC) recommendations. Similar software would be introduced in the State Sainik Board and District Sainik Board Offices across the country, he added.

Mr. Raju said the government had recently sanctioned an additional 300 polyclinics as part of the endeavour to provide better health care to the ex-servicemen. Efforts were also underway to help the ex-servicemen have an access to the corporate hospitals. Resettlement courses for the ex-servicemen were getting fine-tuned in a bid to promote skill upgradation among them. The idea was aimed at preparing the ex-servicemen, who were used to do the conventional jobs associated with the refilling stations, toll plazas on the highways and security agencies, to take up the emerging and new generation employments like software as their second career. The Minister said the Centre had decided to increase its share of funds from 50 to 75 per cent for running the State Sainik Boards in a bid to provide more focus on the welfare of ex-servicemen and widows. The State-level boards are funded by the State and Central governments in a 50:50 ratio till now.
Welfare of ex-servicemen priority of Defence Ministry

Tall promises on paper- mission blunted by bureaucrats
Welfare of Ex-Servicemen and Their Resettlement by Sangeeta Agarwal
1. Introduction
Having given the best years of their lives to the country, it becomes a national obligation to resettle and rehabilitate the ex-servicemen.
An ex-serviceman is a person who has served in any rank, whether as a combatant or as non-combatant, in the Armed Forces of the Union of India, including the Armed forces of former Indian States, but excluding the Assam Rifles, Defence Security Corps, General Reserve Engineer?ing Force, Lok Sahayak Sena and Territorial Army, for a continuous period of not less than 6 months after attes?tation and has been released, otherwise than by way of dismissal or discharge on account of misconduct or inef?ficiency or has been transferred to the reserve pending such release or has to serve for not more than 6 months for completing the period of service requisite for becoming entitled to be released or transferred to the reserve.
2. Administrative Responsibility and Organisation
The Central and states/UTs are jointly responsible for the resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen. The Kendriya Sainik Board, whose designation was introduced in 1951 for the earlier organization i.e. the District Soldiers' Sailors' and Airmen's Board, is the apex body at the Central Government level.
At the state level, the subject of resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen is allocated to one of the ministers in the state governments and Secretary of the Department concerned oversees the work of the Rajya Sainik Board.
The welfare funds administered by the Kendriya Sainik Board are: Flag Day Fund, Armed Forces Benevolent Fund, Armed Forces Reconstruction Fund, Special Fund for Re?construction and Rehabilitation of Ex-servicemen, War Bereaved and Disabled Servicemen Special Relief Fund, India Solders', Sailors' and Airmen's Board Fund, Services Welfare Fund and Indian Gorkha Ex-Servicemen Welfare Fund.
3. Necessity of Resettlement Assistance
The releases from Armed Forces create a reservoir of trained manpower which can profitably be made use of in various skills; are a national asset and should be utilized as such. They should be merged in the mainstream of national life so that they continue to contribute their skills for national advantage. It is felt that any delay in resettling them will only cause dissatisfaction and frustration amongst them.
Resettlement on Land
The bulk of our Jawans come from rural areas with agricultural backgrounds. Resettlement on land, however, on a major scale is no longer feasible as land is increasingly becoming scarce. Effort is, however, made to persuade state governments to accord high priority to ex-servicemen for the allocation of surplus land.
A large number of ex-servicemen have found avenues of self-employment by securing agencies of public sector undertakings in tea, fertilizers, cement, steel, salt, machine- tools, cloth, bakery products, petroleum items, photo-ma?terial, papers, transportation of scooters, milk-booths, elec?tronic goods etc.
In the field of transport, ex-servicemen are helped through provision of tractors, discarded vehicles, and bus, taxi and truck routes including allocation of national permits for transportation of goods. For those interested in starting small scale units, consultancy services are provided in preparing project reports. Assistance is given in securing finances from banks and in marketing of products.
Dissemination of Information
Dissemination of information in regard to benefits and concessions available to ex-servicemen and their families is of paramount importance. Apart from projection of resettlement and welfare activities pertaining to ex-service- men through different media of publicity, the Directorate General Resettlement, Ministry of Defense, has brought out a comprehensive guide to Resettlement of Ex-servicemen both in English and Hindi.

Comment. Very laudable goals. The welfare funds administered by the Kendriya Sainik Board are the Flag Day Fund, Armed Forces Benevolent Fund, Armed Forces Reconstruction Fund, Special Fund for Re?construction and Rehabilitation of Ex-servicemen, War Bereaved and Disabled Servicemen Special Relief Fund, India Solders', Sailors' and Airmen's Board Fund, Services Welfare Fund and Indian Gorkha Ex-Servicemen Welfare Fund. The utilisation of these funds are questionable and really not audited to ensure they benefit the deserving Ex Service Personnel. Only a small percent of the funds reaches the beneficiaries!

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