Loksabha – Standing Committee Report – Welfare Measures available to War widows/ Families
STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE
(SEVENTEENTH LOK SABHA)
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
ASSESSMENT OF WELFARE MEASURES AVAILABLE TO WAR WIDOWS/ FAMILIES IN ARMED FORCES
LOK SABHA SECRETARIAT
December, 2022 / Agrahayana 1944 (Saka)
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMITTEE (2021-22)
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMITTEE (2022-23)
Chapter I Policy and Structure
Chapter II Delivery Mechanism for Welfare Measures
Chapter III Employment/Resettlement
Chapter IV Medical and Educational Facilities
Chapter V Pensions
Chapter VI Awareness Generation and Grievance Redressal
Chapter VII Recognition of Martyrs and Their Families
Entitlements to the NoKs of the Battle Casualties
Minutes of the Sittings of the Standing Committee on Defence held on 27.05.2022 and 14.11.2022
- The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Defence (2022-23), having been authorised by the Committee, present this Thirty-first Report (17th Lok Sabha) on the subject ‘Assessment of Welfare Measures Available to War Widows/ Families in Armed Forces.’
- The subject ‘Assessment of Welfare Measures Available to War Widows/ Families in Armed Forces’ was selected for the examination during the year 2021-22 and 2022-23. The Committee took evidence of the representatives of the Ministry of Defence on 27th May 2022. The draft Report was considered and adopted by the Committee at their Sitting held on 14th November, 2022.
- The Committee wish to express their thanks to the officers of the Ministry of Defence for appearing before the Committee and furnishing the material and information which the Committee desired in connection with examination of the subject.
- For facility of reference and convenience, Observations/Recommendations of the Committee have been printed in bold letters in Part II of the Report.
13 December, 2022
22 Agrahayana, 1944 (Saka)
Standing Committee on Defence
According to the Ministry of Defence, war-widows or ‘Veer-Naris’ are the women who have lost their husbands in war/military operation. There are several women who had lost their husbands in World War-II, Indo-Pak, Indo-China war and kargil/ Military operations at a very young age. As most women hail from rural areas and are unaware of their rights and entitlements, the department has a vision to make them aware and give necessary facilities not only to Martyred soldiers family but also of all Ex- Servicemen (ESM) and their dependents. However, the jurisdiction of this Report is limited to assessment of welfare measures to family of martyred soldiers and examine the provisions that have been so made to ensure a dignified life to the dependents of those who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The Family of martyred soldier has been addressed as ‘veer-nari/Next of Kins (NoKs)’ in this Report.
- The Committee have been given to understand that as per regulation 107 of the Pensions Regulations for Army, Part-I (2008), for the purpose, Family shall consist of the following: –
(i) Husband/wife lawfully married before or after retirement.
(ii) A judicially separated wife or husband, such separation not being granted on the ground of adultery and the person surviving was not held guilty of committing adultery.
(iii) Unmarried son/unmarried daughter actual and legitimate including posthumous/ widowed /divorced daughter.
(vi) Unmarried brother
(vii) Unmarried sister
The above provisions are applicable to three wings of Armed Forces i.e. Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
Chapter – I
Policy and Structure
The Committee have learnt that there exists a well structured institutional framework in the form of Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), and the specialized attached offices of DESW and three Services Headquarters. The Department was established in 2007 and it has nearly 15000 veer-naris. All the welfare services and support required are adequately covered through these dedicated institutions which together implement and administer wide array of schemes and interventions which are required.
1.2. The Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare formulates various policies and programmes for the welfare and resettlement of Ex-Servicemen (ESM) in the country which are implemented through its three attached offices namely, Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB), Directorate General (Resettlement) (DGR) and Central Organization, Ex- servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS). The KSB is responsible for formulating the policy and guidelines for the welfare of Ex-Servicemen and their dependents and also for the administration of welfare funds. The office of Directorate General of Resettlement implements various Policies / Schemes / Programmes on pre and post retirement training, re-employment and self-employment etc. ECHS takes care of the healthcare and medical needs of Ex-servicemen and their dependents.
1.3. In addition to above, all the three Service headquarters have their own specialized directorates viz Directorate of Army veterans (DIAV) of Indian Army, Directorate of Air Veterans, and Directorate of Ex-servicemen Affairs (DESA) of Indian Navy, which endeavour towards ensuring a decent life to retired personnel and their dependents, through their schemes/programmes.
1.4. The Committee were apprised by the Ministry that there is no need for a dedicated department to look exclusively after needs of veer-naris/NoKs. With regard to total number of veer-naris in the country, the Committee were informed that the total number of war widows in the country is 15021. However, State/UT wise break-up data was not available. A data about NoKs is shall also be maintained.
1.5. The Committee came to learn that the circumstances in which a soldier has died determine the differences in benefits accrued to their family members. In this connection, the Ministry of Defence had submitted a detailed note as under:
“For grant of pensionary awards to families of Armed Forces Personnel, the circumstances of death of the Armed Forces personnel has been categorized as under:
Death or disability due to natural causes neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service as determined by the competent medical authorities. Examples would be ailments of nature of constitutional diseases as assessed by medical authorities, chronic ailments like heart and renal diseases, prolonged illness, accidents while not on duty.
The cases of death due to natural causes falling under Category A entitles ordinary family pension (50% of reckonable emoluments at enhanced rate and 30% of reckonable emoluments at normal rate).
Death or disability due to causes which are accepted as attributable to or aggravated by military service as determined by the competent medical authorities. Disease contracted because of continued exposure to hostile work environments subject to extreme weather conditions or occupational hazards resulting in death or disability would be examples.
Death or disability due to accidents in the performance of duties such as:
(i) Accidents while travelling on duty in Government vehicles or public/private transport.
(ii) Accidents during air journeys.
(iii) Mishaps at sea while on duty.
(iv) Electrocution while on duty etc.
(v) Accidents during participation in organised sports events/adventure activities/ expeditions or training.
In case of death of Armed Forces personnel falling under Category B and Category C special family pension (@60% of the reckonable emoluments) may be granted to the eligible member of the family of the deceased personnel.
Death or disability due to acts of violence /attack by terrorists, anti- social elements etc. whether on duty other than operational duty or even when not on duty. Bomb blasts in public places or transport, indiscriminate shooting incidents in public etc. would be covered under this category, besides death/disability occurring while employed in aid of civil power and also while dealing with natural calamities. Unintentional killing by own troops during the course of duty in an operational area. Electrocutions/attacks by wild animals and snake bite/drowning during course of action in counter insurgency/war. Accidental death/injury sustained due to natural calamities such as flood, avalanches, landslides, cyclone, fire and lightening or drowning in river while performing operational duties/movement in action against enemy forces and armed hostilities in operational area to include deployment on international border or line of control.
Death or disability arising as a result of: –
(i) Enemy action in international war
(ii) Action during deployment with a peace keeping mission abroad
(iii) Border skirmishes
(iv) During laying or clearance of mines including enemy mines as also mine sweeping operations.
(v) On account of accidental explosions of mines while laying operationally oriented mine field or lifting or negotiating mine field laid by the enemy or own forces in operational areas near international borders or the line of control.
(vi) War like situations, including cases which are attributable to/aggravated by:-
(1) extremist acts, exploding mines etc, while on way to an operational area.
(2) battle inoculation training exercises or demonstration with live ammunition.
(3) Kidnapping by extremists while on operational duty
(vii) An act of violence/attack by extremists, anti social elements etc. while on operational duty.
(viii) Action against extremists, antisocial elements etc. death/disability while employed in the aid of civil power in quelling agitation, riots or revolt by demonstrators shall be covered under this category.
(ix) Operations specially notified by the Government from time to time
In case of death of Armed Forces personnel falling under Category D and Category E liberalized family pension equal to reckonable emoluments may be granted to the eligible member of the family of the deceased personnel.
The details of Central Ex-Gratia Amount paid.
Ex-Gratia Lump Sum Compensation of Death. The compensation is granted is granted at the following latest rates:-
1.6 The Committee were also informed by representatives of Ministry of Defence as under:
“एक लाख रुपए तक मैरिज ग्रांट मिलती है, जो डॉटर्स और विडोज रीमैरिज के लिए होती है और ऑरफन सन के लिए भी होती है। वोकेशनल ट्रेनिंग ग्रांट भी करीब-करीब 20 हजार रुपये तक होती है, जो हवलदार रैंक तक के लिए होती हीै। Concessions up to 75 per cent on railway tickets to widows and complementary card passes to Chakra awardees and their widows की भी सुविधा है। हालांकि, आजकल मोबाइल का जमाना है, लेकिन फिर भी 50 per cent concessions in rental charges to Chakra awardees and war widows को टेलिफोन कनसेशन के रूप में मिलता है। Also, financial assistance to 100 per cent disabled children of ESM, मतलब कोई डिसेबल्ड चिल्ड्रन भी हो तो उसको भी फाइनेंशियल असिस्टेंस मिलता है। पहले एक हज़ार रुपये था, हाल ही में उसको तीन हज़ार रुपये किए हैं। अंत में यह जिक्र करना चाह रहे थे कि प्राइम मिनिस्टर स्कॉलरशिप 5500 तमाम सीएपीएफ को भी है और रेलवे प्रोटेक्शन फोर्स को भी है और हमारा ज्यादा कोटा है, हमारा आर्म्ड फोर्सेज़ का। उसमें पिछले तीन साल में 43 वॉर विडोज़ को करीब-करीब 12-13 लाख रुपये मिले हैं इसका 2500 रुपेय प्रति माह लड़कों के लिए है और 3000 रुपये प्रति महीने लड़कियों के लिए है। सर, लास्ट स्लाइड में आर्म्ड फोर्सेज़ बैटल कैज़ुएलिटीज़ वैलफेयर फंड का जिक्र करना चाह रहे हैं। यह अराउंड 1098 बैटल कुज़ुएलिटीज़ और उनके किन को करीब-करीब 32 करोड़ रुपये डिस्ट्रिब्यूट किया गया है। यह उसका ईयरवाइज़ ब्रेक-अप है।
Chapter – II
Delivery Mechanism for Welfare Measures
The Committee were informed that the data of number of beneficiaries and the amount of grant given against each scheme is analysed on regular basis to measure the impact of all the schemes run by the Ministry of Defence, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW), various Service Headquarters and its attached offices. Several modifications in the existing schemes are carried out at regular intervals to ensure the desired impact. New schemes are also added depending on the requirement. The quantum of the benefits have been modified from time to time through the existing administrative channels. A detailed list of financial assistance and other concessions given to the NoK (Next of Kin)/dependents and Veer-Naris of the Battle Casualties is annexed at Annexure.
2.2. Further, the Committee were given to understand that the data of number of beneficiaries and the amount of grant given against each scheme is analysed on regular basis to measure the impact of all the schemes run by the MoD, DESW, various Service Headquarters and its attached offices. Several modifications in the existing schemes are carried out at regular intervals to ensure the desired impact. New schemes are also added depending on the requirement. The quantum of the benefits have been modified from time to time through the existing administrative channels.
Welfare Measures Delivery at the State/District level
2.3. The Ministry of Defence has informed the Committee that Kendriya Sainik Board is headed by Hon’ble Raksha Mantri and the Chief Ministers, Administrators of Union Territories are its member. It is a high level board specially created to look after the issues of ESM/dependents. There are 33 Rajya Sainik Boards (RSBs) and 403 Zila Sainik Board (ZSBs) to look after the well beings of ESM/Dependents. As per the existing composition of the ZSB, the President of each ZSB is the concerned District Magistrate/District Collector. The Secretary of ZSB is the Zila Sainik Welfare Officer who is appointed by the State Government in consultation with RSB/KSB. All the necessary help to the ESM/ BCs (Battle Casualty)/ NoK are being rendered by them.
2.4. Further, it was added by MoD that In the last 10 years, number of ZSBs have increased from 220 to 403. This is primarily based on number of ESM and families of serving/deceased service personnel in that area. A new ZSB can be set up by concerned state govt themselves if the population of ESM and families of serving /deceased service personnel is above 7500. In case if the population of ESM is less than 7500 in a district, where no other ZSB is in vicinity, the prior approval of Central Govt is required for setting of new ZSB. Recently four new ZSBs have been sanctioned in Delhi.
2.5. The Committee had desired to be apprised about the accessibility of ZSB to beneficiaries residing in its area of jurisdiction. In response, the Ministry has stated that pro-active measures have been taken by the ZSBs by various means to ensure that all ESM fraternity is aware of the latest facilities and welfare measures which have been slated by the Central and the State Governments. Some of the procedures adopted are publishing booklets, radio and TV board casts in local dialects, using print and electronic media, Notice Boards/ hoardings displaying in prominent places frequented by ESM. Regular visits, rallies, meetings and interaction organized by the ZSB offices/ Welfare Organizer in remote localities which has facilitated large number of ESM and widows having applied for various facilities and welfare schemes. In addition RSB/ZSB meetings are held every year to review the progress on various welfare measures/schemes. RSB in the State are chaired by Governor/Chief Minister. In the last six months Rajya Sainik Board (RSB) and State Managing Committee (SMC) meetings were held at Rajasthan, Assam, Mizoram and Chandigarh (UT) have taken place. Similar regular meetings are also held at ZSB level.
2.6. During deliberations on the subject, the Committee learnt that in addition to ex- gratia given by Central / individual service, ex-gratia payment to veer-nari/NoKs are also being paid by respective State/UT Governments. Being a federal structure in the country, the amount varies from State to State. In this context, the Committee were informed that issue regarding uniformity in payments of ex-gratia amount to the dependents of Martyrs has already been raised and discussed in several meetings at various fora. In this connection it was further informed that, various States have recently increased the Ex-Gratia amount for ex Himachal Pradesh has increased to Rs 20 lakh and Odisha has increased to Rs 10 lakh.
2.7. The Committee were apprised about the methodologies devised for timely delivery of services/schemes channelized for the welfare of veer-nari/next to kins. The Ministry of Defence through a written reply furnished as under:
“System for payments of welfare schemes of Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF) to beneficiaries Veer-Nari/ Next of kins have been implemented through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). The payment /welfare grants are made from AFDDF which is a corpus financed by volunteer contribution from the citizenry and funded by Govt. The updated payment status is being uploaded on the KSB Portal on regular basis.”
Chapter – III
With regard to compassionate appointments, the Committee were informed that the appointments are being made by concerned Service Headquarters of Army, Navy and Air Force to widows / families of defence personnel. The Ministry had furnished the following details indicating various relaxations etc being given to veer-nari/NoKs:-
“(a) Officer Selection
(i) Widow of Defence Personnel, who have died in harness will be eligible to apply for Short Service Commission (Non- Tech) and (Tech). They are eligible even if they children but should only have not re-married. A total of 5% vacancies will be earmarked for widows both for SSC (Tech) women and SSC (Non-Tech) women entry. The upper age limit is upto 35 years of age at the time of commencement of training at OTA, Chennai.
(ii) For SSCW (Non- Tech) entry where UPSC exam is applicable, the requirement for undergoing UPSC is waived for such widows. They are selected through SSB.
(iii) 10% vacancies are available to Wards (Sons and daughters including legally adopted children) of Battle Casualty for grant of Short Service Commission (SSC) out of fixed vacancies released per course to ‘C’ Certificate holders of NCC. There is no relaxation in eligibility criteria except that condition of holding of NCC ‘C’ Certificate is not mandatory for these vacancies.
(b) JCO/ORs Enrolment.
Instant Enrolment is provided into the Army through UHQ enrolment by respective Regiment/Corps Training Centers as per policy att. Extract of policy on ‘Instant Enrolment’ is as under:-
(i) One son of fatal battle casualty/ Battle Casualty boarded out. In case underage, he may be enrolled when he attains the age required.
(ii) When Deceased was unmarried-One real brother of a Battle Casualty.
(iii) When Deceased’s Widow is Issueless or has no Male Child- One real brother of a Battle Casualty provided the real brother gets married to the deceased widow.
(iv) When Deceased’s Widow has a Male Child who has not Attained age for enrolment-One real brother of Battle Casualty provided the real brother gets married to the deceased’s widow. In this case the male child on attaining the enrolment ate will not be entitled for instant Enrolment. However, he will get the concession/relaxations for enrolment as applicable to sons of Servicemen/Ex-servicemen.
(v) When the Battle Casualty has been invalidated out of Service on Medical Grounds-One real son on attaining the age required for enrolment.”