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Wednesday, April 8, 2009
POST RETIREMENT INSURANCE SCHEMES NEGLECTS OLD VETERANS
ARMED FORCES GROUP INSURANCE SCHEMES
POST RETIREMENT INSURANCE SCHEMES NEGLECTS OLD VETERANS
The need for providing group life insurance cover to the soldiers was felt after 1971 war. More than 3843 soldiers were killed and 9851 were wounded in the 1971 Indo Pak war which lasted for only 14 days. When the concept of Group Insurance Scheme for the armed forces was muted, even the state owned Life Insurance Corporation of India did not come forward to take up the scheme for the Armed Forces, because of the alarming death toll in the 1971 war.
Therefore, the responsibility of creating and administering a Group Insurance Scheme was entrusted to our own senior officers. The Indian Air Force and the Indian Army started their own group schemes in the year 1975 and 1976 respectively. The efficient administration with military discipline and sincerity rendered more surplus funds to start the Post Retirement Insurance Schemes to its retired members.
The Scheme which started with an amount of Rs.30,000 in the year 1976 for the serving personnel is now marching with 15 lacs in the Army and Rs.30 lacs in the Air Force and from Rs.65000 to 4 lacs for retired personnel in the Army and Rs.30,000 to 5 lacs for the Air Force personnel. Whenever a new scheme is introduced, the retired people are always neglected and forgotten. While we fight for the parity in pension (OROP) with the Government, we fail to implement the same benefits to our own elders even though we ourselves govern the entire schemes like this.
For example, a person who had contributed a lump sum amount for the Post retirement insurance scheme in the year 1981, is now out of the scheme without any benefit. General O.P.Malhotra, the then Chief of the Army Staff, whom I presume to be the first person to start and join the extended insurance scheme in the Army is now out of the scheme without any benefit. Because, the terms and conditions which was framed by our own men stipulates that the benefits are available within a period of 15 years or 70 years of age whichever is earlier, renders him ineligible for any benefit. Can we not accommodate the elders like him in the scheme, even by charging some additional contribution to the extended scheme. Nothing is impossible, if we have the will to do. After all, every one is going to die one day. The cut off age and the cut off term period framed by our own men should not come in the way for depriving any benefit. Some small amount of death benefit must be given to all the Post Retirement Scheme members irrespective of age and term.
With profound grief and tears in my eyes, I want to narrate a real life story of an Ex.Sgt.Krishnawamy, Eng. Fitt., of Indian Air Force. A decorated Airman, with a number of commendation certificates and cash awards for his dedicated work as a Engine Fitter in the Air Force, was discharged from Air Force in Aug 1989. 14 years after his discharge from Air Force, it was detected that his days are counted at a faster rate due to chest cancer. A detailed diagnosis revealed that it was an occupational hazard that had attributed to this decease. (The hard work he had to put up in the Air Force to service the 2nd world war type Air crafts such as Dakota, Fairchild Packet which had earned him Commendation certificates, but these substandard aviation machines taken his life by slowly poisoning his body.) A renowned cancer institute expressed their inability for any further treatment.
As a close associate with that family, I tried to mobilize financial assistance from wherever possible. During our search for help in his home, Sgt.Krishnasamy himself with great difficulty opened a cupboard in his house and took out the Air Force Group Insurance Society’s post retirement insurance memorandum and asked me to find out whether his family can get any thing out of that. He knows very well that the AFGIS comes into effect after his death. But he does not know that the cut off date in the memorandum is going to expire in a few days, which will make his wife ineligible for the claim of Rs.40,000/ as per the memorandum. Considering the situation my heart and soul went out of way to pray for his peaceful death within the cut off date (As it is, we all know that the death certain in few days) so that his family will get at least that amount as a last rescue from starvation. Alas ! it did not happen. The date of death succeeded in denying the insurance benefit to the family. This tragic event triggered me to make this appeal to the society, so that if possible, it could be prevented to some extent for the future generation. Let me not come across any such tragic experience any more. If not the full amount, at least some amount to meet the funeral expenses may be given by the Group insurance society to these old veterans whose contributions made these great institutions.
The Indian Armed Forces are well known for its clean administrative skills. Therefore there is nothing impossible, if there is a will to do. When we can do it Why to beg to these politicians and bureaucrats. Will the concerned authorities in the three services consider the request sympathetically and implement it immediately so that every member of the extended insurance scheme get some grant at the time of his death. This may be done with retrospective date so that no one is hurt on any cut off dates.