Well, Government jobs are always in demand – for a variety of reasons! They are very competitive to get these days, as hiring is getting less and less. But once you get in, promotions are automatic, performance is incidental and there are innumerable other benefits!! But most of all people want to join, because of the pension. Few have realized that post 2006, GOI no longer has a pension scheme by which employees were entitled to full pension for life if he/she had served GOI 33 years, and proportionate amounts for lesser service. The spouse got a family pension for his/her lifetime in case of demise of the employee and unmarried daughter would continue to draw this, even after the death of the spouse.
My father joined the civil service in the early 1940s when few other avenues were open and these were the coveted jobs. I joined as a matter of course in the 1970s as research opportunities were only available in the GOI. So over time, my mother and I are now both recipients of the Government pensions, she from GOI and I from the Government of Uttar Pradesh. And following the implementation of the 6th Pay Commission, pensions fairly generous!
But I can imagine that for many families a pension may be major steady source of income, that suddenly gets halved when the pensioner dies and disappears when the spouse passes on. In such instances some may resort to ways and means to continue to draw the pension – easy to do in this vast country, where addresses are seldom static and communication can be daunting. Such frauds were common in the past and as a fall out, it was made mandatory for each pensioner to submit a physical certificate signed by a list of acceptable authorities that ‘he/she is alive’ every November to continue to receive the pension.
November came and went, and since both my mother and I are alive, it is easy to forget that it needs to get certified that we are!! My brother called to say that her bank is asking for the certificate to continue dispensing the pension. So we made the trek to the local branch of State Bank of India yesterday morning! She is 84 and although mobile within the house, slow and tentative outside. She also tires easily. So we drove to the bank, located on the second floor of a shopping complex. I hopped out to ensure that the its only lift was functioning and then helped her to the lift, a distance of about 50 meters. We reached the second floor only to find the bank closed – there was some kind of all India agitation. It was not highlighted in the morning papers – and I am a regular cover end to end newspaper reader. So, we came back with mission unaccomplished.
I also noted that if she were less mobile and needed to get to the bank in a wheel chair, it would be daunting. Although the shopping complex is designed with ramps. the main acess ramp from the road is chained across and blocked with parked 2-wheelers.
This morning I sent an advance party to ensure that the bank was open. Then we repeated the routine and reached the bank. While filling the form, I was a little apprehensive as I did not have any documentation for her – her pension issue letter no, no photo ID, no PAN card, no passport. However, I had her SBI savings account number to which pension was credited and I had got the certification done last year from the same branch. When I informed the officer that she drew her pension from the central treasury – lo and behold, he could locate the link in the database in minutes. Last year he had stamped and signed the form, which I had sent to my brother in Chennai to present to her bank. But he said that this was unnecessary, he said that the database has been updated and she was ‘live’ for another year!!
In my case, the application was stamped and signed – it has to be mailed in original to my old Institution in Lucknow from where I draw pension!! I guess that is a lot better that having to personally travel to Lucknow once a year. That is what is expected of those who draw their pensions directly from the UP Treasury; or so I was told by a gentlemen I met recently who was on his way to Lucknow to establish his ‘live status’ for 12 months!!! The UP Government definitely lives many decades behind the times.
In fact my mother may not have to make the trip to the bank next November as the GOI has recently announced the Jeevan Pramaan, a scheme for self-certification for Central Government pensioners. I do not see any such move from UP for many years to come!