Millions of young Indians aspire to become officers in the defence forces to serve the country. After a grueling selection process, their real test begins in training academies. The nature of the job is such that it requires a trainee officer to go through physically and mentally demanding training sessions. Unfortunately, some trainees suffer serious injuries, resulting in disability and eventually being medically boarded out of the service.
One such unfortunate case has been Shubham Gupta who has been boarded out due to a 100 percent disability during military training. He suffered a serious injury in 2012 was given a motorized wheelchair upon discharge from the Military Hospital in Kirkee, Pune after two years of the incident.
Now, as the wheelchair ran out of life, the hospital refused to issue a new wheelchair citing a rule which does not consider Shubham as an ex-serviceman and is not a member of the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS). Shubham has now been issued a motorized wheelchair by the Punjab government as per the directions given by CM Captain Amrinder Singh.
Problem with the policy on disabled trainees
Officer trainees are entitled to ex-servicemen status and a disability pension, according to some veterans. Actually, they are paid an ex-gratia monthly stipend and, in some cases, such as Shubham's, an ex-gratia disability stipend.
Jawans, on the other hand, are not subject to such restrictions. From the first day of training, a recruit who enters a training center for other ranks is deemed to be in military service. If a recruit is forced to leave training due to a disability, he is entitled to a full disability pension as well as ex-serviceman status, which includes resettlement opportunities and other benefits.
As per a report in The Indian Express, there is a huge gap between the disability ex gratia that an officer trainee gets and the disability pension of a civilian officer trainee and jawans. For instance, a trainee jawan receives a disability pension of Rs 18,000 per month at 20% disability, while a civilian officer trainee receives Rs 36,465 per month. In comparison, an officer trainee in the Army is paid just Rs 12,240 per month.