SPARSH has become the bane of ex-servicemen and veer naris, especially those who are not computer savvy and living in remote areas
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the mobile app for SPARSH (System for Pension Administration Raksha) on October 1, 2022. Describing SPARSH as a landmark step, he said it is the government’s endeavour to provide the best services to the serving personnel, ex-servicemen and their families during the soldiers’ lifetime as well as after death. However SPARSH has become the bane of ex-servicemen and veer naris, especially those who are not computer savvy and living in remote areas.
Defence Accounts should have worked out disbursement of pensions to 33 lakh pensioners plus 60,000-70,000 pensioners added every year plus workable flow chart to cater for various categories of pensioners for both veteran pensioners and veer naris since SPARSH is intended to replace the 32 CPPCs of banks disbursing pensions in the legacy system. There are horrific glitches in SPARSH because of faulty inputs given to the software developer - Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The second major mistake by the authorities is to thrust the system on the Armed Forces without any trial.
The new Defence Secretary Giridhar Armane has acknowledged the problems in SPARSH and urged the PCDA on December 14, 2022 to make it more user friendly
The new Defence Secretary Giridhar Armane has acknowledged the problems in SPARSH and urged the PCDA on December 14, 2022 to make it more user friendly. But there are possibly scores and scores of veterans and veer naris whose pension is held up because of inadequacies in SPARSH. Pension is for old veterans and their families to live a smoother life and needs to be paid regularly without unwarranted hassles. Moreover when even officers cannot load their data in the desired manner in SPARSH, how can one expect aged veterans and illiterate veer naris living in remote areas to do so?
There are scores of veterans and veer naris whose pension is held up because of inadequacies in SPARSH
The requirement is a ‘System for Assured Pension Disbursement’ (SAPD) to pensioners. The acronym SPARSH may have been chosen for the nice sounding Hindi word but it has turned out to be that “administrators” have done their bit with little thought about how and when pension reaches the intended destination. Veteran Brigadier C.S. Vidyasagar running the voluntary organisation ‘Tri-Services Ex-servicemen Welfare Association’ (TSEWA) quotes a pathetic case as follows:
It would be grossly wrong to view the case of Devika Sekar an isolated one. Other discrepancies highlighted by Brigadier Vidyasagar are as under:
The government should seriously let the legacy system continue. This would eliminate excessive expenditure on SPARSH and avoid financial and mental harassment of veterans and veer naris
SPARSH was introduced to avoid paying yearly money to banks for disbursing pensions in the legacy system. But expenses on establishment of SPARSH Service Centres and the 4.5 lakh CSCs including pays of additional staff, cost of new premises, equipment and recurring expenses obviously id many times more than on the legacy system. This is not discussed at all – perhaps deliberately.
The government should seriously let the legacy system continue. This would eliminate excessive expenditure on SPARSH and avoid financial and mental harassment of veterans and veer naris. Also, the government should consider the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare (DESW) to be headed by a veteran as also some posts in this department manned by veterans. If a veteran can be posted as the CDS, this should not pose any problem.