The pension is an indispensable source of income after the retirement of a person. It not only ensures looking after the pensioner’s needs at the advanced stage of the life but also serves as a financial backing during an emergency. In order to continue to receive the pension, a pensioner needs to provide a life certificate at the pension drawing branch of the bank or any other pension disbursing agency.
Publicise Jeevan Pramaan scheme to reach all pensioners
A life certificate is a document signed by an authorised person, who certifies that a pensioner is still alive to receive the pension. Based on the physical presence and considering an ink signed copy submitted by the pensioner, the life certificate is delivered.
Indubitably, this as a matter of course means a lot of upset for elders, who are in dire need of geriatric support. One interesting fact is — in the year 2016, Railways has claimed that it has 2, 80, 000 pensioners, who are above the age of 80 years. In addition to the age-related problems, a lot of pensioners relocate to various other places as a matter of choice or to be with their children. It makes the situation more complex when it comes to gaining access to their rightful pension amount.
However, in order to address this significant problem, as a part of the Digital India initiative, the government has taken up steps to terminate the pain of this tedious procedure. On November 10, 2014, a new initiative called Jeevan Pramaan, an Aadhar based Digital Life Certificate for Pensioners, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Through this software program, a pensioner can submit his life certificate from any place in the world.
Beyond doubt, this digital initiative is of great advantage to the pensioners as it ensures curbing of a lot of hardship and unnecessary inconvenience. Consistent with the reply to an RTI query, in India, there are a total of 8, 20, 578 pensioners in central services — without considering the number of pensioners in Railways, Banks, Defence, Posts and Telecom / BSNL. If all the pensioners are taken in light of, there are approximately 2 crore pensioners in India.
Despite the fact that the submission of life certificate through Jeevan Pramaan is very convenient, many pensioners and their caretakers are unconscious of it. The latest statistics show that as many as 173.66 lakh pensioners have already submitted Digital Life Certificates (DLC) since 2014, out of which 80.16 lakh pensioners have submitted Digital Life Certificates since November 1, 2017.
However, considering the many numbers of pensioners in India and taking into consideration of the Digital Life Certificates obtained by the pension disbursing agencies at their doorsteps to replace the manual work, the mentioned figures accounts to a trifling fraction. The reason could be accounted mainly to the lack of awareness among the pensioners.
Secondly, the UIDAI has discontinued the use of public biometric devices. At present, they allow only Registered Biometric Devices for Aadhaar enabled Authentication. For this, UIDAI has introduced a new Aadhaar Authentication Framework. Consequently, if a pensioner needs to submit the in situ Digital Life Certificate, there arises a need for a Registered Biometric Device. Registration of biometric device itself is a herculean task.
Even after registration, the device requires timely renewal for incessant services — more so, the renewal is not a free provision. Hence, the complexity involved in the registration process would, certainly, dilute the convivial drive of the Jeevan Pramaan.
In view of the above, there is a need to fuss about Jeevan Pramaan for its reach to all pensioners. For the effective implementation of submission of DLC, awareness programmes may be taken up in collaboration with all forms of media. Also, while a person retires, he may be appraised of the Jeevan Pramaan utility.
Additionally, to make this digital initiative, a grand success, the competent authorities may contemplate about the offering of the Biometric Devices at a subsidy rate to the pensioners. Besides, those devices allocated to the pensioners may be registered permanently with UIDAI, while limiting the usage of the devices only to the pensioner and family-pensioner — to curb the unsanctioned use of the device. Thus, the aim to streamline the process of DLC while making it hassle-free could be achieved.
(An Air Veteran and a mass communicator, Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi is an author of more than 10 mass media books)