The Veterans Cell was raised in April, 2013 as a single window for the redressal of veterans’ issues and aspirations at Army HQ level. Since then, its role and charter has expanded considerably, to include matters beyond the usual pension and welfare related issues. It does not only interact with the line directorates and welfare societies at the AG Branch, but also with other directorates, state governments, skilling agencies and placement partners across the country. These enhanced functions required the scaling up of the Army Veterans Cell into the Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) at the AG Branch. It now functions directly under the Adjutant General, thereby according the required importance to the management of Veteran affairs in the Indian Army.
Structure and Salient Characteristics: DIAV
1. DIAV was raised on 14 Jan 2016 at Delhi Cantt. It functions directly under the Adjutant General, thereby according the required importance to the management of Veteran affairs in the Indian Army. It provides ‘Single Window Redress and Welfare’ mechanism for all Army Veterans and Veer Naris by constantly interacting with line directorates, state governments, MoD (DESW), DGR, CGDA, banks, skilling agencies and placement partners across the country in order to provide care and support to our Veterans. The raising of Directorate of Veterans and Offices of Col Veterans at Areas and Sub Areas and Veterans Sahayata Kendra (VSKs) in every station have enabled outreach to Veterans and Veer Nari’s in an efficient manner especially, those residing in remote parts of the country.
Structure of DIAV
2. DIAV is headed by a Brigadier rk offr called Brig DIAV. It comprises of four operating sections, each headed by a Colonel rk offr. The sections are:-
(a) Policy and Outreach Section.
(b) Pension and Entitlement Section.
(c) Benefits and Services Section.
(d) Skilling and Transition Section.
3. An update on achievements of DIAV and Veterans Verticals are enumerated in succeeding paragraphs.
4. Consolidation Of Database. DIAV acts as the front face of the organisation towards handling and resolution of issues affecting our veteran’s fraternity. Tremendous efforts have been made in consolidating database of ESM, disabled soldiers, gallantry awardees, BC/PC cases, Veer Naris etc and sharing of data with fmns, Colonel of the Regts and Line Dtes for their usage. An all out effort to reach out to veterans for their registration on the Army Veterans Portal was carried out through the verticals at Area/Sub Area HQ and ESM cells at military stations. DIAV has also been able to collect data of more than two lakhs pensioners drawing disability pension and gallantry awardees in order to reach out to them. The Dte has collected data of approximately five lakhs family pensioners in order to reach out to them in the Year of NoK.
5. Creation of Post of Col Veterans. To provide a single point contact to our veterans and to receive and address their grievances across the country a new post of Col Veterans was created at all Area and Sub Area HQs. The erstwhile non institutionalized arrangements of veteran’s desks in subordinate HQs have been replaced by an exclusive office with support staff for the welfare of veterans. A total of 30 ‘Col Veterans’ have been posted to Area/Sub Area HQs.
(a) To facilitate greater connect and awareness of activities, policies and welfare schemes for the majority of Veteran population and Veer Nari’s residing in far flung areas, modern communication technology means and social media has been harnessed as the reach of existing outreach means is bound to remain limited for obvious reasons. In tune with this, a web portal and Android OS based app called Veterans Outreach Application has been launched by DIAV. The App can be downloaded from the Google play store. Major features of the application are:-
(i) Ask a question.
(ii) Locator services.
(iii) Pension calculator.
(iv) Find course-mate.
(v) Links to Veterans related websites.
(b) Social Media Handle. To further expand outreach activities DIAV has launched official social media handles on Twitter and Facebook to reach out to the target population. The official twitter handle of Indian Army Veterans Directorate is @DIAV20.
(c) Establishment of Veterans Portal. Indian Army Veterans Portal – www.indianarmyveterans.gov.in has been established by DIAV to reach out to Veterans and hosting of veteran related info. The info on DIAV portal is available to Veterans in 11 languages. Links have been provided to access Veterans related agencies of the Govt and sister services. A total of more than 26.12 Lakhs hits, have been received on the DIAV portal since establishment. More than 16.93 Lakhs veterans have registered on the DIAV portal.
(d) DIAV has printed and distributed bilingual info booklets and posters for info of Veterans.
(e) Rallies and Pension Adalats . More than 200 rallies and pension adalats were conducted Pan India by the three services. Two mega Veteran Rallies were conducted under the aegis of HQ Western Comd and HQ Southern Comd at Mamun and Pune respectively as part of the Year of Disabled Soldier In Line of Duty.
(f) Activities of DIAV were covered by WION channel on the Independence Day 2018 in their news broadcast. Two more media channel, Amar Ujala and Zee coverage activities of DIAV through news items/documentaries.
(g) Armed Forces Veterans Day Rally. Armed Forces Veterans Day rally on 14 Jan is an annual Tri-services event of HQ IDS. Indian Army was the lead service for conduct of the event at Delhi on 14 Jan 2019. The event was planned and coordinated by Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV), on behalf of AG’s Branch/IHQ of MoD (Army).
(h) Veterans Tableau for Republic Day Parade 2019. DIAV had conceptualised the Veterans Tableau for Army Day and Republic Day Parade 2019. The theme of the tableau was Armed Forces Veterans – Accelerators In Nations Growth.
(j) Publication and Release of Veterans Magazine. Samman Magazine published by DIAV was released on Armed Forces Veterans Day. The magazine covers a wide canvas of issues concerning the veterans. The articles contributed by eminent veterans in various fields both civil and military have been received positively. The magazine also covers recent notifications, government orders and advisories concerning veterans.
7. Grievance Redressal
(a) DIAV has a robust and responsive grievance monitoring and resolution mechanism. A total of 3698 grievances were received by various modes and over e mail by DIAV. 1825 of these grievances were resolved and closed. Balance 1873 grievances are being pursued with concerned agencies. DIAV has also been made responsible to receive grievances of Army Veterans over CP GRAMS. A total of 6586 grievances were received on CP GRAMS upto 31 Jan 2019, of which 6533 have been processed and closed. Balance 53 is being processed with various agencies.
(b) In addition to the petitions received directly and on CP GRAMS, DIAV is also the nominated agency for dealing with grievances received through CAB Sectt, AWWA Sectt, ADG PI, President Sectt, PMO, Office of RM, Def Secy and DESW amongst others.
(d) Call Centre Services. The IT cell at DIAV has now been equipped with required infrastructure and communication means for receiving grievances from veterans through email/telephone /SMS besides letters. At the call centre, the queries and grievances are immediately responded by trained staff and if required, by connecting the veterans to the dealing section. Any pending / follow-up are noted and acted upon till logical closure of cases.
(e) Complaints Received on Whats App. A separate cell has been opened at DIAV for receiving and resolving grievances of veterans received on Whats App platform.
8. Redressal of Pension and Entitlement Arrears. Pension and Entitlement cases of Veterans are acknowledged and monitored till logical conclusion of cases by concerned agencies. Due to proactive follow up by DIAV a No of long outstanding complex cases were resolved and arrears of pension amounting to more than Four Crores released and credited to the accounts of various pensioners.
9. Release of Ex Gratia and Welfare Grants
(a) Ex Gratia. A total of 4157 beneficiaries: both Battle Casualties (BCs) and Physical Casualties (PCs) were provided ex- gratia amounting to Rs. 33.316 Cr.
(b) Welfare Grants. There was an increase in beneficiary base by 1563 for various schemes. 4926 beneficiaries were granted disbursals from various welfare schemes amounting to Rs. 6.19 Cr.
10. Skilling of Prospective Retirees. DIAV in concert with NSDC has undertaken skilling of prospective retirees of Army in order to provide them with second career options. 36 Regimental Centres have registered for skilling courses with NSDC. The prospective retirees undergo a 14 day Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) course at regimental centres and are awarded with National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) certificates accredited by the NSDC. These certificates are recognised across the country and will soon become acceptable qualification by the Industry and the Corporate Sector for placements. Skilling of spouses and wards has also been undertaken by DIAV with the purpose of enhancing their self worth in sync with the Govt’s ‘Beti-Bachao-Beti-Padhao’ initiative. The spouses and wards undergo short courses of 2-3 months duration at Army Skill Trg Centres (ASTCs). Presently 31 such skill centres are functional at various mil stns/cantts.
11. Assistance in Providing Jobs. Dte is actively involved in placement of Veterans through DGR and Tri Service Job seminars. Job connects for skilled prospective retirees are being pursued by DIAV through Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO). Over three thousand skilled veterans have been placed by AWPO and these numbers are steadily increasing. Endeavour is to formalise job connects for skilled prospective retirees.
12. E-Lobby and Facilitation Centres. State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB) have opened an electronic lobby at DIAV. The lobby has direct interface with CPPCs and are connected to main bank servers, thereby providing real time solutions to queries on pension matters. The lobby also has ATMs, pass book printers, cash deposit machine and information kiosk. The facilitation centre at DIAV is manned by bank reps of SBI, PNB and Bank of India to monitor and redress grievances of their banks. Similar E Lobby’s are operational in 15 stations pan India.
13. Setting Up of E Jeevan Praman System. DIAV and Veterans Vertical have commenced operations of E Praman verification centres, thus, obviating physical visits by Veterans to banks.
14. Release of Pensioners Guide. The experience indicates that families and NOKs are at loss with respect to actions to be taken on the demise of the pensioner. Dte and Veterans Branches have released Pensioners Guide for NOKs, which contains actions to be taken, various performa, pre-filled details and other valuable information.
15. Online Verification of ECHS Smart Card. DIAV and Veterans Branches have created facilities for undertaking online verification of ECHS applications at their Dte/Branch.
16. Liaison With State Govts. Issues were taken up through Comds/Area HQ for pursuing welfare related matters with state Govts during CLMC mtgs. Three states i.e Sikkim, Telangana and Kerala have increased their grants after CLMC mtgs. The case is under progress for Delhi. Bihar has reserved the post of Registrars of all universities for Retd Army offrs.
17. Project Studies. Project ‘SAKSHAM’ sponsored by DIAV has been taken up by CDM for HDMC-14 project study.
18. Automation. An upgraded Software Application for Disbursement of Funds to Entitled Personnel has been processed by DIAV through IT grants. This will increase the capacity to hold greater database and simultaneously facilitate timely reminders and periodic disbursement of allocated funds along with auto-updation of the records.