Armed Forces Current Affairs - 2019

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Govt. restores ‘ration in kind’ provision to military officers in peace areas

The Government of India has approved Union Ministry of Defence proposal for restoration of ‘ration in kind’ to military officers stationed in peace areas. This is one of the first major decisions taken by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh after he assumed the new portfolio role in Modi government’s 2nd term.

Key Highlights

Background: On 1 July 2017, government had taken the decision that instead of free ration in kind facility defence officers would be given certain allowance.  This decision to withdraw provision of ration in kind, a practice that was being followed since 1983 was based on a recommendation of 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC). Initially the ration in kind facility was applicable only to junior officers but was subsequently extended to all ranks. The MoD decision to cancel free ration for officers in peace postings met with criticism from several quarters within the three armed forces services.

Allowance: Defence forces had told Defence Ministry that in case if ration in kind facility was discontinued then an allowance of Rs.205.11/officer/day without tax exemptions must be paid. However, central government decided only an amount of Rs.96 as allowance. Later a cost analysis was done which revealed that in case of free ration cost came up to Rs.100 per officer per day.

Importance: Now after restoration of ration in kind facility all officers of armed forces, including those in peace stations, will be getting ration. This result of restoration is due to a lot of effort from all levels in Defence Ministry and Indian Armed Forces.

Bulletin: PM approves changes in Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on assuming his office took the very first decision of granting approval to major changes in the ‘Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme’ under the National Defence Fund. This decision is in line with PM’s vision for India’s safety, security and well-being of those who protect the nation.

Changes approved by Prime Minister

  • Scholarship Rate: The rates of scholarship have been increased from Rs.2000pm (per month) to Rs.2500pm for boys and from Rs.2250pm to Rs.3000pm for girls.
  • Scholarship Extended: The ambit of Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme is now extended to include the wards of State Police officials who are or were martyred during terror or naxal attacks. The new scholarships quota for wards of state police officials will be 500 in one year. For the implementation of it the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be the nodal Ministry.

Significance

  • The move of including police personnel wards provides recognition to the length of monumental contribution of our police personnel who performing their duties with utmost diligence.
  • The availability of scholarship under the scheme will enable more youngsters from police families to study and excel in different fields and will also have an empowering effect on several bright young minds.
  • The Prime Minister took the decision in spirit that it is country’s duty not only to express gratitude but also do things towards welfare of police personnel and their families.

About National Defence Fund

  • Background: NDF was set up in 1962. It was meant to take charge of voluntary donations (in cash and kind) received for promotion of national defence effort, and also to decide on their utilisation. National Defence Fund also accepts online voluntary contributions.
  • Purpose: NDF is used for welfare of members of Armed Forces, Para Military forces and Railway Protection Force, and their dependents.
  • Administration: An Executive Committee chaired by Prime Minister and with Defence Ministers, Finance Ministers and Home Ministers as Members administers the fund.
  • Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme’ (PMSS) is implemented under NDF.
  • PMSS: encourages technical and post-graduate education for widows and wards of deceased or ex-service personnel of Armed Forces, Para Military Forces and Railway Protection Force (RPF).
  • Scholarships under the scheme are available for education at technical institutions such as MBA, MCA, engineering, medical, dental, veterinary, or any other equivalent technical professions (with suitable AICTE/UGC approval).
  • Under PMSS new scholarships are given every year for about 5500 wards of armed forces (which is controlled by Ministry of Defence), 2000 wards of paramilitary forces (by Ministry of Home Affairs) and for 150 wards of forces (by Ministry of Railways).