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4 years of Modi government: A post-retirement life now made easy

By Chennabasaveshwar

The four years of Modi Government has made post-retirement life of pensioners easy. There has not only been an increase in the pension amount, but the process has been simplified and time taken in processing of pension papers has been reduced from two to one year. The DoPT policies ensure respectful and active post-retired life. Retired people are no longer dependents but they are being involved in nation building activities. PM Modi must be credited for developing ANUBHAV, an online system of experience sharing by retiring government employees. The initiative helps future generations for better governance.

Narendra Modi

1. Pension Policy improvements:

  • Orders were issued on 04.08.2016 for regulating pensionary benefits of employees retired/retiring on or after 01.01.2016. The minimum pension has been increased from Rs. 3500/- p.m. to Rs. 9,000/- per month.
  • The minimum disability pension and family pension covered under CCS (EOP) Rules of a Government servant/family of the deceased Government holding a pensionable post has been enhanced to Rs. 18,000/- per month vide OM No.1/4/2016-P&PW(F) dated 2-8-2017
  • The ceiling of Retirement and Death gratuity has been increased from the existing Rs.10 lakh to Rs.20 lakhs.
  • With effect from 1.1.2016, the rates of ex-gratia lump sum compensation being paid to the families of employees who die in performance of duty has been increased from Rs. 10-15 lakhs to Rs.25-45 lakhs;
  • The Constant Attendant Allowance being paid to pensioners drawing disability pension has been increased from the existing Rs.4500/- p.m to Rs.6750/- p.m, vide OM No.1/4/2017-P&PW(F) dated 2/8/2017
  • Amount of Fixed Medical Allowance payable to the Central Government Pensioners residing in areas not covered under CGHS has been increased from Rs. 500/- per month to Rs. 1000/- per month w.e.f. 01.07.2017.
  • Orders have been issued on 26.08.2016 for extension of benefit of gratuity to NPS employees, on the same terms as applicable to employees appointed before 01.01.2004.
  • Based on 7th CPC recommendations separate order have been issued on 12.05.2017 for revision of pension of pre-2016 pensioners/family pensioners w.e.f. 1.1.2016 by notional pay fixation. This has brought the pension of past pensioners at par with that of the employees retiring on or after 1.1.2016.
  • Concordance tables for fixation of notional pay and pension/family pension of employees who retired/died in various grades during the 4th, 5th and 6th Pay Commission periods have been issued vide this Department's OM No. 38/37/2016-P&PW(A) dated 6th July, 2017.
  • Earlier, only 1/3rd of pension was being restored after 15 years in the case of employees who got absorbed in PSUs, etc. and had taken 100% lump-sum amount in lieu of pension. Orders have been issued on 23rd June, 2017 and 21st July, 2017 allowing restoration of full pension after expiry of commutation period of 15 years to all such absorbee pensioners.

2. Simplification of pension claim procedure:

  • Procedure for sanction of Pension has been simplified. Time taken in processing of pension papers has been reduced from two years to one year.
  • Earlier, a retired Government servant had to approach his pension disbursing bank for collecting his Pension Payment Order. The procedures have been simplified to enable handing over of the PPO on retirement from the office where the Government servant last served.
  • Requirement of affidavits/attestations by Gazetted officers has been dispensed with.
  • On death of a Government employee/pensioner, dependent parents and disabled child/sibling are eligible to receive family pension. Since a fresh PPO was required to be issued in their favour, they had to face a lot of difficulty in getting family pension started. The rules have been amended to allow co-authorization of disabled children/siblings and dependent parents in the PPO issued to the retiring employee. This would enable the Bank to start family pension to them without the need for a fresh PPO from the pension sanctioning authority.
  • Earlier, divorced daughter was eligible for family pension if the divorce took place during the lifetime of the parents in receipt of pension/family pension. Orders have been issued on 19th July, 2017 stating that the Family Pension to divorced daughter would be allowed even in such cases where divorce proceedings had been filed during the life time of employee/pensioner or his/her spouse but divorce took place after their death.
  • In order to claim the Fixed Medical Allowance, the retired Government employees residing in cities/areas not covered under CGHS were required to submit a certificate from the CMO/CGHS to the effect that their residence was not covered by CGHS. The requirement of this certificate has now been dispensed with for sanctioning Fixed Medical Allowance (FMA) to pensioners.

3. Liberalization and simplification of GPF (CS) Rules, 1960 :

  • Provisions for grant of withdrawal and advances have been simplified by allowing simple declaration by the subscriber. No further documentary evidence will be required.
  • Limits for withdrawals have been raised and procedures simplified especially for activities of house building and education of children, where the costs have gone up manifold over the last two decades.
  • Scope has been widened to include primary, secondary and higher education covering all streams and institutions, advance can be taken for travel and tourism also.
  • Maximum time limit of 15 days prescribed for sanction and payment of advance/withdrawal.

4. Initiatives towards Digitization & Reform:

  • Pensioners' Portal: Pensioners' Portal is a web-based single platform created in 2007 with the objective to disseminate pension related information, as well as to provide redressal of the pensioners' grievances at a single point. In the last four years the Portal was strengthened by adding the facility of online pension sanction process and experience sharing platform of central government retirees. It also provides the facility of self-assessment of Pensionary dues by the online pension calculator, latest updated orders, personalized road-map for retirees. In September 2017, a mobile app of the department was launched to reach out to a larger number of pensioners and the services of the Pensioners Portal was made available through this App.
  • Digital Life Certificate (DLC) implementation initiative: To ease the life certification process, DeitY has developed an on-line life certificate submission system which is based on Aadhar number. In order to ensure smooth implementation of the DLC method of submitting Life Certificate, this Department organized a tripartite coordination between UIDAI, Jeevan Pramaan team of MeitY and Banks. This Department is also promoting use of submission of Digital Life Certificate among the pensioners so that they can submit life certificate from anywhere without waiting in long queue in banks. Till date 93% of pensioners accounts have been seeded with Aadhar number which enables them to avail the digital life certificate in future.

E-Office implementation: The Department of Pensions & Pensioners' Welfare went completely paperless and 100% files are now on e-office. These efforts were recognised in an Award ceremony organised by the DARPG which is the coordinating department for e-office .

CPENGRAMS: Its is a web-based grievance redressal and monitoring system. It facilitates pensioners to register their grievance online and view the progress till disposal of their case through system. In the last four years the system achieved rising popularity which indicates the building of confidence in the system. The number of grievances registered during the last three years and disposed of during the same period are:

The average time taken for disposal of grievances in 2014 was 104 days which was brought down to 36 in 2017. The last four years average disposal time is given below:

Deep Dive Analysis of grievances for delivering quality disposal: Initiatives have also been introduced to strengthen the quality in grievance disposal. The department conducted a Root Cause Analysis of the grievances received and identified Focus Ministries as well as kinds of grievances in order to target the reforms in the right direction.

All Ministries combined Pension Adalats: Further, to strengthen the grievances redressal mechanism this department launched the new initiative of Pension Adalat wherein unresolved grievances in CPENGRAMS are listed and the petitioner along with the concerned Ministry/Department, Banks, CPAO etc. are brought at one common platform with an objective to provide on the spot resolution of grievance.

a. In the first Pension Adalat under the auspices of the Honourable MoS (PP) was conducted in September 2017, out of 29 grievances, 26 cases were resolved on the spot.

b. The second Pension Adalat was organized on February 9, 2018, again under the auspices of MOS (PP) wherein 31 cases were disposed of on-the-spot in a single sitting covering grievances of Pensioners from 17 Ministries/Departments.

BHAVISHYA: It was observed that 25% of the grievances are due to delay in initiation in pension. To make the pension sanction process transparent an online pension sanction module 'Bhavishya' was developed. In the first phase Bhavishya was implemented in the main secretariats of Ministries in 2015 and after its successful implementation it was made mandatory for all the Central Govt. Ministries/Departments w.e.f. 01.01.2017. This digitization has gone a long way in ensuring seamless and accurate Pension processing for all the Central Govt Employees on the system. It has had the following results:

  • There is complete transparency in processing a Pension case and the retiree keeps getting regular updates about the stage of his Pension processing;
  • The system is capable of giving real-time data of pension processing right up to the stage of first credit of pension into the account of the Pensioner;
  • The system has made the concept of e-PPO possible and based on the Bhavishya e-PPO was launched on 1st March, 2017. It is a landmark in digitization of Pension processing.
  • As of now 35523 cases have been processed through Bhavishya.
  • As of now 458 offices with 6508 DDOs of civil ministries/departments are on the board of Bhavishya processing 26,117 pension cases of government employees.

5. Awareness campaigns for Pensioners and Officials dealing with pension cases: To reduce the pensioners grievances, which are approximately, 2500 per month, Department of Pension& PW organized the following:

  • Pre-retirement Counselling: It is observed that pension grievances arise due to ignorance of updated rule position amongst dealing staff or unawareness of their entitlement procedures for claim amongst the retirees/pensioners. To address the above issue this department started conducting Pre-Retirement Counselling for the retirees, specially those of CAPFs living in far-flung areas, deployed at the frontiers including Shillong, Jaisalmer etc.
  • Training of Trainers workshops: 11 Training of Trainers workshops were conducted and a pool of 670 Master trainers was created.
  • Pensioners' Awareness camps: For the benefit of pensioners, awareness camps were organized at Shillong, Aizwal, Kohima, Guwhati, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Agartala for creating awareness on updated entitlements of pensioners/family pensioners.
  • Training to Dealing staff w.r.t. pension cases of Ministries/ Department: A total number of 543 officials from all Ministries/Departments were trained on latest Rules/Regulations for Pension settlement, specially issues arising out of Family Pension and Disability Pension.
  • Awareness through Print Media: To reach out to the pensioners, especially family pensioners, in far flung regions of the country, the Department brought out an Information bulletin in 159 newspapers including national and regional newspapers covering all states and UTs. This bulletin was on useful and updated provisions on pension related entitlements and about CPENGRAM.
  • Awareness through Visual Media: The department made extensive use of Radio and Television to spread awareness among Pensioners about Life Certificate and DLCs. Scroll messages and Video clips were telecast on Door darshan (DD) and other private TV channels.
  • Awareness through internet/ Social Media: Department website has been revamped comprehensively and it became user friendly as well as "Divyang friendly". This Department also made its presence felt in Social Media platforms like Facebook and twitter.

6. SANKALP initiative: This is a unique initiative launched in 2014 in order to reorient retired people towards an active post-retired life. The stake-holders in this scheme includes Pensioners & their Associations, Employees approaching retirement age, organisations involved in social welfare projects & companies both public and private conducting activities under CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

  • In order to gainfully utilize the skill and experience of retired employees towards nation-building activities and social work, a new initiative was undertaken, wherein certain NGOs listed on the 'Darpan' website of Niti Aayog were called for an interactive session with retiring government employees. These sessions were held in the month of January 2018 in Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Tamil Nadu Pensioners' Association helped some 500 people in restoration of their eyes through cataract surgeries;
  • Adoption of 11 MCD schools by 16 pensioners for improving the quality of education and environment in the schools;
  • 1224 Pensioners engaged by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) as Inspecting Officers/Members of the Flying Squad during examinations in various cities etc.

7. ANUBHAV initiative: At the direction of Prime Minister, the Department of Pensions has developed ANUBHAV, an online system of experience sharing by retiring government employees. ANUBHAV portal gives retiring officials an opportunity to record their experiences in the government and create a wealth of institutional memory for future generations for better governance. To encourage retirees to submit quality write ups, an award scheme has also been instituted. In 2017, contributors of 16 write ups were awarded by the Hon'ble MOS(PP). As on 31.3.2018, 4941 write-ups have been published.

8. Swachh Bharat initiative: Pensioners are also roped in to ensure success of the Swachh Bharat campaign. Pensioners Associations were motivated to organize Swachh Bharat movement in their localities. Several cleaning campaigns were organized by the associations in Guwahati, Bengaluru, Allahabad, Vadodara, Assam and Bihar.

  • An abandoned store lying unused for the last one decade was modernised and a Facilitation centre for the pensioners was carved out on the ground floor of Lok Nayak Bhawan, in the Department of Pension & PW.
  • Similarly, an unused dilapidated space, measuring some 2000 sq.ft. in Janpath Bhawan was modernized for creating a special CPENGRAM cell and call center for handling Pensioners' grievances.

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