Himachal Pradesh has announced to restore Old Pension Scheme ( OPS) for government employees just two days after Dehli High Court’s pronouncement for old Pension Scheme for Central Paramilitary Forces (CAPF). Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Panjab are other states which have announced OPS instead of New Pension System (NPS) recently. Such back to back significant decisions in favour of employees brought a ray of hope for government employees, of other states and UTs of the country, working under NPS, because the employees feel completely insecure and disappointed with regard to post retirement life under NPS. Government jobs have always attracted the attention of aspirants for the reason that in a government job, an employee would expect a good pension to live declining years of life independently with ease. Broadly, life comprises of two stages one is productive stage , during which an employee remains healthy, safe, sound and active. Throughout this period of life one can easily earn his livelihood wheather in government job or in private job or in business. During this period he can easily ensure economic security for himself as well for his family, hence manages to keep a balance between his income and expenses. Another stage of life starts just after the productive years of a person are over, when, due to ageing one’s health starts deteriorating gradually and begins to develop health complications, he loses the ability to work and earn. During later stage of life a person becomes completely dependent on others for every single need of life. If a person is a businessman whether a small business unit holder or big, he makes proper use of his gained experience and he manages to continue the business even through old age to some extent. However a government employee after his retirement can’t start up any kind of business through declining years, because old age is not a right time to begin a business unit. In case of Old Pension Scheme, in order to secure the post retirement life of a government employee, at the time of his appointment a presumed mutual commitment was done between the government ( employer) and the employees that during productive years of his age, an employee would serve the government/ employer and once the employee would attain old age, say sixty years, when he would begin to lack ability to work and serve, the government as employer would hold the responsibility of providing him economic support in the form of monthly pension to make retired employee’s life independent. So in this way Pension means the minimal monthly income being given to an employee after retirement , by which he or she can get social and economic security to meet the basic requirements of postretirement life.
However in January 2004, a new Pension System called NPS was introduced in Indian, still subsists in most of states and UTs of the country, which is basically a voluntary long term investment plan under the purview of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). In this Pension System an employee has to contribute 10% of his basic salary and Dearness allowance and the government contributes matching share of its 14 % during the service years of an employee. This amount is invested to share market by different companies (authorised by the government). At the end of the service of an employee the 60% of accumulated ammount is paid back to the employee, and rest 40% of the accumulated amount is spent to buy an annuity, from any insurance company, for monthly pension to an employee working under NPS. In Jammu and Kashmir erstwhile state the same Pension System was introduced in 2010. Since the government employees belong to lower middle class, hence this market based Pension System has put the future of all the NPS government employees to stake, because the share market is not to provide guaranteed returns. Those who have recently retired are up in arms as their monthly Pension under NPS has remained completely unsatisfactory with just between rupees one thousand to two thousand per month, which is very insufficient even to buy required medicines in old age. Life is too expensive to be survived unde the meager Pension under NPS. The central government as well as J&K Government should take a review of insignificant NPS and initiate workable steps for restoration of Old Pension Scheme ( OPS)
(The author is a teacher by profession. The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the authors and aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon”.)