Ranchi: Girdhar Mahato, a resident of Ranchi, retired in September 2018 from the education department. He had got the job in 2011.
When Mahato had applied in 1982 the vacancies were meant to be filled on the basis of merit. Mahato had scored high on the merit list. But, thanks to corruption, he and others like him were denied the jobs that went to others who had scored much less than them. Litigation followed. After 23 years, when the High Court gave a decision in Mahato’s favour, he was finally inducted by the education department. But by the time he got his job he was under the new pension scheme (NPS) that does not carry the benefits of the old pension scheme (OPS)
“Now I am getting a meager amount of Rs 1500 as pension. Had I got pension as per the previous scheme I would be getting Rs 40,000, which is what some of my lower rank holding colleagues are getting,” rued the science teacher.
More pension amount under government old age pension schemes than under NPS
Hazaribagh district’s 62-year-old Ashok Kumar too had to fight tooth and nail for his job. He had got the job of Halka Karamchari (field officer in the revenue department) in 1991 which, as per the usual norm, was on a temporary basis. The employees are later absorbed as permanent. That did not happen and so Kumar too had to knock at the doors of justice.
After fighting a long battle the Supreme Court gave an order in his favour and he became a permanent employee in 2007. But since 2019, when he retired, neither his pension is being given to him nor has he got any gratuity amount.
“If and when I get my pension, it will be only Rs 1700 and not Rs 20,000, which I should be getting under the old pension scheme. My last drawn salary was around 40,000,” Kumar told eNewsroom.
“Because I retired as a government employee neither I nor my wife can get the government pension for the elderly, which is rupees one thousand for each person. This means together we could get more than what I will get as pension after serving the government for 29 years. And not only the old age pension, because I’m a government pensioner I am not entitled for ration card nor the Ayushman card,” regretted Kumar.
Watch the video of journalist Ravish Kumar, speaking on New Pension Scheme
Turning insurance agent after retirement
63-year-old Umakant Sinha said, “I do not have enough money to buy medicines. Recently, I passed a test to become an LIC agent. This is what has become of former government employees. Without the pension we have lost our status in society.”
Under the new pension scheme, those who joined service after January 1, 2004 (both central and state government employees, except those from the armed forces) will not get a pension that is half of the last salary, as was the case earlier. They are also not entitled to gratuity. Though, after strong opposition, gratuity has been resumed from February 2019.
There are more than two crores government employees in India.
And there is an ongoing agitation (National Movement For Old Pension Scheme -NMOPS) demanding that the government bring back the old pension scheme.
Rajnath Singh statement on farm bill is on similar lines to what he had said before implementing NPS
“In 2003, the Pension Act- 1972 was amended and New Pension Scheme was introduced. It is now known as New Pension System. In 2013, a regularity body, PFRDA was created to monitor it,” Vikrant Singh, Jharkhand Chapter’s NMOPS President told eNewsroom
Last month Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, speaking on the demand of farmers to repeal the new farm laws, had suggested that the laws should be implemented for a year or two and then if it is found not to be beneficial then it could be scrapped.
“A similar thing was said to us when the Vajpai government was implementing the new pension scheme (NPS). Our union leaders were told that the new pension scheme will be very beneficial for us. But it turned out to be disastrous. In 2003, through NPS, the working class’ pension was corporatized and now agriculture is being handed over to the corporate world,” added Singh.
The National Movement For Old Pension Scheme has yet to come forward and express solidarity for the protesting farmers but they can see the similarities in case the new farm laws are implemented.
The ongoing movement against the NPS poses a peculiar situation for those in Jharkhand. Since the state is barely 20 years old, several state government employees who joined after the state was carved out will retire several years from now and hence fail to appreciate why the movement is so important. “Many government employees do not understand the gravity of the problem and what it means for all government employees and their future,” said President NMOPS (Giridih), Imtiyaz Ahmad.
Hemant Soren had claimed before the Jharkhand assembly polls in 2019 that if his government comes to power the Old Pension Scheme will be implemented in the state. However, Soren government is yet to fulfill this promise of theirs.