OFFICIALDOM NEEDS TO BE SENSITIVE AND EFFECTIVE IN IMPLEMENTING WELFARE MEASURES FOR FAMILIES OF MARTYRED SOLDIERS

Heightened hostilities by Pak army and border forces across the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) respectively as well as attacks by Pakistani terrorists in the Kashmir valley have over a period taken a heavy toll of fatal casualties of Indian Army and central and state police personnel. These add up to an already large number of earlier fatal and disabled casualties, all of which must be suitably compensated/rehabilitated. On 22 November 2016 in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre provided details of welfare measures taken to ameliorate the lot of families of Army personnel martyred during attacks by Pakistan’s military and the terrorists it has trained and supported. In this case the welfare measures include educational concessions, healthcare and other facilities for children of martyred soldiers.

Educational Concessions:
The following educational concessions are provided to the Children of Armed Forces Officers / Personnel Below Officer Ranks, Missing / Disabled / Killed in action:
• Tuition Fees: Full reimbursement of tuition fee (capitation fee and caution money not included) levied by the educational institutions concerned (including charges for school bus maintained by the school or actual fare paid for railway pass for students/bus fare certified by the head of institute). • Hostel Charges: Full reimbursement of hostel charges for those studying in boarding schools and colleges.
• Cost of books/ stationery: Rs.1,000/- per annum per student or the amount claimed by the student, whichever is less.
• Cost of uniform where compulsory: Rs.1,700/- maximum during first year and Rs.700/- for the subsequent years per annum per student or the amount claimed by the student, whichever is less.

• Clothing: Rs.500/- for the first year and Rs.300/- for the subsequent years per annum per student or the amount claimed by the student, whichever is less.

These educational concessions are admissible only for undertaking studies in government/ government aided schools/ educational institutes, military/ sainik schools and other schools or colleges recognised by the central or state governments including the autonomous organisations financed entirely by the central/ state governments.

Reimbursement of Children’s Education Allowance (CEA) will not be linked with the performance of the child in his/ her class, i.e., even if a child fails in a particular class, the CEA shall not be stopped.

Central Organisation, Ex- Servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) provides for free healthcare to all dependents of martyred soldiers.The dependents of martyred soldiers are also exempted from payment of one time contribution for becoming ECHS members.

The wards of Defence/ Coast Guard personnel killed in action are the first priority for award of Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme under which 5500 Scholarships are awarded annually to the wards of ex-servicemen / widows in order to support their higher technical / professional education.The wards of Defence personnel killed in action are the first priority for MBBS/ BDS seats (normally 20-24 MBBS and 2-3 BDS seats annually) reserved for Defence personnel.

Recurring grant of Rs.1350/-p.m. is provided to War Memorial Hostels for the children of war widows / war-disabled.
There is an institutionalised mechanism at all levels down to the unit at Services’ HQs. to ensure that families/ dependents of martyred soldiers are provided with uniform and adequate financial assistance.The Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat, an attached office of Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare implements other facilities/ welfare measures for ex-servicemen including martyred soldiers.However the process needs to be relentlessly pursued/ monitored as there have been cases of laxity and apathy in implementation of welfare/ rehabilitation measures. While the BJP government has no doubt tried to create consciousness about the dedication of armed forces and central armed police forces personnel, despite the risks and the losses of lives or limbs that they face, at the bureaucratic and clerical levels matters often tend to get dragged. While units of the deceased or disabled personnel are a great support base, but the steady pace of their pursuance cannot be indefinitely sustained owing to their operational commitments. Officialdom must do its due and maintain sensitivity to become reliable and relentless in implementation of welfare measures for martyrs and seriously injured/disabled personnel.

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