Move to lessen pensioners' hardship

The Jeevan Pramaan scheme, launched by the Central government last week, will go a long way to reduce the hardship faced by many pensioners in drawing their pension. It introduces a digital life certificate in place of the present practice of pensioners producing a life certificate every year to the pension disbursing agency.

The life certificate is required to certify that the pensioner is alive and can continue to draw the pension till the time of the next certification. It is usually produced in November. While the need for it cannot be disputed, it is a recurrent hassle for most pensioners. They have to either physically present themselves before the disbursing agency or submit a certificate issued by agencies specified by the central pension accounting office. Old and infirm people, handicapped persons, women and those who live with their children in faraway places have all to go through this. The new system will make the process simple and easy.

Jeevan Pramaan uses a software application developed by the Union department of science and technology. It enables the recording of the pensioner’s Aadhaar number and biometric details from a computer or a mobile phone with a reading device.

Details about the identity of the pensioner, along with the date, time and biometric information, are then uploaded to a central data base which enables the pension disbursing agency to directly access a digital life certificate. It establishes that the pensioner is alive at the time of certification, without actual physical verification.

The software will be made available to individual pensioners and all stakeholders like banks on a large scale at no extra cost. The reading device will also be inexpensive.

The certification can even be done from homes. The facility will also be made available at all common service centres under the national e-governance plan so that people living in distant and inaccessible areas can make use of it.

At present, there are over 125 lakh pensioners in the country. There are about 50 lakh people who get pension from the Central government and about the same number of people get it from state governments. Armed forces give pension to about 25 lakh persons. There are many who get it from the public sector undertakings. All of them will benefit from the new scheme. It will reduce the workload of the pension disbursing agencies also and cut the use of paper. It is expected that the new system will be operationalised next year. Most of the pensioners are senior citizens and they will welcome the introduction of the new system.

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