Ways to help non-pension retirees

In his letter (Feb 25), Mr Gurbachan Singh has rightly pointed out that the condition of retirees who do not get pension is very serious. In addition to their fast declining real incomes due to falling interest rates, there are a large number of such elderly people who are not covered by any medical benefit scheme. The insurance companies are not offering any health insurance cover to those above 65 years of age. The need for medical cover for such people cannot be overemphsised.

Retirees covered by superannuation schemes are also facing problems because the LIC has reduced the pension on annuity from 12 per cent to 5 per cent with no commitment to revise the rates upwards in case the interest rates start rising again in the future. There seems to be no provision to allow such retirees to invest a part of their superannuation funds in the Varisht Pension scheme meant for senior citizens. Furthermore, these pensions are not linked to the cost of living as in the case of government pensioners.

The situation in which non-pensioner retirees/senior citizens find themselves in needs immediate attention of the authorities concerned. They should get proper returns on their life-time earnings and savings.

The government should look into the possibility of providing medical cover to them.

H. SINGH, Mohali



Insult at DC’s office

During a visit to the new Mini Secretariat in Patiala recently, I had a bitter experience. When I and my son entered the office from the main roadside gate, a Head Constable chased us and shouted, “Can’t you see this gate is only meant for officers’ use?” He showed us a notice board to this effect. Though we promised to use the other gate in future, he ordered us to go back and enter the office only through the gate meant for the public.

The Deputy Commissioner was not in the office and so, I met ADC Shivdular Singh and complained about the incident. However, instead of expressing regrets over the shabby treatment accorded to us, he said, “Rule is rule. You will have to obey”. We have been informed many a time that officers like the DC and others are like people’s “servants” and that the people are the “masters”. Why, then, do these “servants” need a separate gate for themselves?

The old DC office at the Mall had three gates all of which were open to everyone — judges, officers, lawyers and general public. None faced any problem anywhere. Of course, the people know well that whenever they go inside to get their problems resolved, they will be insulted by the office staff on duty. But insult at the very entry point itself is a new phenomenon in Patiala’s new Mini Secretariat!

Dr HARPAL SINGH PANNU, Professor, Sikh Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala



Woes of ex-servicemen

Apropos of Mr V.I.K. Sharma’s letter (March 4) regarding double standards in pension of MLAs and bureaucrats, though the writer has raised a pertinent issue, he should have included the plight of ex-servicemen too.

The defence service personnel, having served in much more harsh conditions, are apolitical, disciplined and dedicated. They are forced to retire at a much younger age according to their terms of engagement. Despite six years relief provided to them, those below the officer’s rank are not able to earn full pension as most retire with a service of 15-17 years at about 35 years of age. Resettlement schemes are not enough and suitable.

This has been the condition since we became independent, and the various ex-servicemen associations and others have been crying hoarse to get the anomaly rectified. Surprisingly, however, neither politicians nor bureaucrats have ever bothered to listen to us. One only realises the pain once the shoe pinches. However, it augurs well that a retired bureaucrat has felt the need for removing double standards. I would, in fact, sincerely plead for undoing the triple standards.

Lt-Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

Replace street lights

The residents of Brahampuri Mohalla in Ludhiana have been facing a harrowing time in the nights as the authorities have not bothered to repair the street lights. Most of the tubes are fused. The authorities have not replied to our letters dated August 12, 2003, September 12, 2003, December 12, 2003 and January 9, 2004.

Will the Executive Engineer in-charge of this area and the Deputy Commissioner, who is responsible for maintaining law and order, bestow their personal attention and get the street lights repaired at the earliest?


A goodwill gesture

The Punjab Technical University Board’s approval of the 24-credit rule system (March 14) has come as a whiff of fresh air to hundreds of students of various engineering colleges in Punjab (2001 batch). They were very much upset when this system was withdrawn earlier. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should be given due credit for having implemented this system as a goodwill gesture. This will not only save the career of many students but also the hard-earned money of their parents.

As a quid pro quo, the students should reciprocate this gesture by working hard so that they can secure good marks in the examinations.


Exam dates clash

The medical/dental entrance exam of M.G. Institute of Medical Society, Wardha, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (in Karnataka) are due on April 25, 2004. Similarly, the medical entrance exam of Aligarh Muslim University and Karnataka (CET) Colleges fall on May 10 and 12 respectively. The authorities should change the dates of the exams in the larger interest of the students.

A. K. SHARMA, Panchkula

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