In major setback to the shot service commissioned officers (SSC) of the Indian forces, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to roll back its decision to provide them post-retirement medical benefits. The MoD in a letter has clarified that the benefits would not be possible because of the "stressed" resources.
Indian defence forces recruit officers through different entries and SSC entry has a limited tenure till 14 years to fulfill the shortage of young officers. The objective of allowing this entry is to take up duties from the young blood. However, an SSC officer can also be given a permanent commission based on the past record of the officer and availability.
The news comes at a time when the tri-services especially the Indian Army is struggling to arrest the attrition rates in its young officer's cadre. It is to be noted that the UPA government had cleared cloud over the issue and has offered the medical services to the retired officers under the Employees Contributory Health Services (ECHS) scheme which the current government has decided to roll back.
The Economic Times reported that a letter from the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare under the defense ministry clearly shows that Modi-led government is finding it hard to offer the retired SSC offers with the medical facilities. The letter argued that the retired SSC officers do not draw pension hence they are not eligible for the scheme and any such change would further raise a demand from other nonpensioners in ECHS as well.
In a response to the association of ex-servicemen, the MoD said that "Any substantial increase in the number of beneficiaries will require augmentation of the already stressed resources (budget, manpower, polyclinic and allied infrastructure) of ECHS."