Wednesday, January 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Health scheme for ex-servicemen

AS reported by The Tribune on December 15 the new health scheme for ex-servicemen announced by CAS-designate Gen N.C. Vij, effective from April, 2003, will cover all ex-servicemen. Those receiving pension up to Rs 3000 p.m. will become whole-life members of the scheme by merely making a one-time payment of Rs 1800 and will receive all kinds of treatment, including for any serious illness, free of cost for themselves and their dependants.

At present, the Medical Insurance Scheme, 1995, covers all ex-servicemen of the Army and MIS-1997 of the Air Force. Both schemes are more or less on the same pattern. As per the scheme, a one-time premium of Rs 5000 covers the self and wife of 50 years and below upto Rs 1 lakh each (total Rs 2 lakh). The initial one-time premium rates are different for the retirees depending upon their age. For example, for 55, 60, 65 and 70 years of age the premiums are Rs 7,205, Rs 10,088, Rs 13,598, and Rs 17,701, respectively, merely for giving a coverage of Rs 1 lakh for the self and wife. Higher coverage can be opted by paying for each lakh of cover. The rates of the existing schemes are dependent on the age of entry into the schemes, and not on the rank.



The pattern of the schemes encourage the retirees to opt for as early as possible, but the retirees prior to 1995/1997 did not have the requisite information about such schemes. As such, they could not become members. Here comes the role of the Ex-Servicemen Helpline at Chandimandir. With the help of the Press and the electronic media, it should educate the ex-servicemen. It is expected that the government will review the rates for senior-ex-servicemen which should remain the same for all ages — Rs 5,000 and not Rs 17,701 for 70 years and above. These schemes cover even the specified ailments — heart, renal (kidney), cancer and joint disorders.

It is expected that the new scheme of 2003 will cover even heart, renal, cancer and joint disorders also without any limit. It is also hoped the new scheme will be suitably extended to the Air Force and the Navy as well.


Medical allowance

THE fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 per month being paid to the Punjab Government employees and pensioners since 1-1-1998 is inadequate to meet the ever-increasing cost of medicare these days. During the last five years — since January, 1998 — the medicare cost has registered a rise of 39 per cent as per the Consumer Price Index/ medicare cost data. In view of this fact, medical allowance should be raised from Rs 250 to Rs 350 per month with immediate effect.

The Congress election manifesto released on the eve of the Punjab Assembly elections made a clear-cut promise to raise medical allowance. The Punjab Government should now honour its commitment.




Media’s role

I don’t agree with Dr Jagdish Batra’s views (Editor’s mail, December 23). I don’t think it is right to castigate the newspapers which criticised Mr Narendra Modi’s brand of administration before the Gujarat poll. Only because he has led his party to victory in the Assembly election. The role of the Press is to discern the wrong from the right and criticise the former regardless of what impact it has on the politics of the country or a state.

For a politician, as is well known, winning an election is all that matters. And to achieve this end, he sometimes resorts to undesirable practices. So, his success at the hustings does not necessarily justify his style of functioning. Unfortunately, in India, votes are often cast on the basis of caste and community affiliations rather than on the basis of party policies and programmes.

Let us not forget that the masses have been electing even notorious criminals to Parliament and state assemblies. Does it mean that the Press should stop criticising the entry of criminals into politics?

I always feel that a ruler must do justice to all without any discrimination on the basis of caste, colour or creed.

The Press, which took up the cudgels against Mr Modi’s style of functioning, must not get affected by the poll results and must keep performing its duty as before.


Irrelevant laws

This refers to the editorial “’84 riots: yet another verdict”. Some elderly man told me that in India, since we have the maximum number of laws and the maximum number of lawyers, justice stands little chance to come to the aggrieved. The rulers of all hues are well aware that the system what we inherited from the British is outdated dud and has little relevance in the changed scenario in the context of the faster modes of communication. But they are least interested in working for change simply because it insulates them.

Any person in the seat of power knows it too well that he can easily spend 15 to 20 years away from the bars even after committing the most heinous crime. The common man gets excited when he reads that the cheque-bouncing law has acquired more teeth, but the true picture comes before him when he moves the court. Procedures are so tedious that he is bound to lose patience at one stage or the other.


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