Thursday, September 12, 2013

This Office Memorandum illustrates a situation with Shri A, Smt. B and Kumari D

WHEN you read this office memorandum (OM) issued by the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare, you would be pleasantly surprised to find Shri A and Smt. B, and their daughter Kumari D in the government communication. After various ministries sought clarifications on family pensions particularly the eligibility of a daughter who became widowed or divorced after…
the death of the pensioner, the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare in its recent office memorandum, dated September 11, resorted to a school-book method to explain how the daughter would be eligible for the pension till she gets remarried or becomes a major bread earner.
Here are the excerpts of the OM containing an illustrative example: “Shri A, a pensioner, died in 1986. He was survived by his wife, Smt. B, a son Shri C and a daughter, Kumari D, the daughter being the younger. Kumari D married in 1990 and got widowed in 1996. Smt. B died in 2001. Thereafter, Shri C was getting family pension, being disabled, and died in 2003. Thereafter, the family pension was stopped as Kumari D was not eligible for it at that time. She applied for family pension on the basis of O.M., dated 30th August, 2004. Since she was a widow and had no independent source of income at the time of death of her mother and on the date her turn came, she may be granted family pension. The family pension will continue only till she remarries or starts earning her livelihood equal to or more than the sum of minimum family pension and dearness relief thereon.” The OM was signed by under secretary DK Solanki.
Significantly, the cabinet secretariat in the last few years has been emphasizing on the improvement of writing quality in government communications particularly the cabinet notes. The writing workshops, attended by director and joint secretary level officers too, are being regularly held. But carrying an illustrative example in a circular or office memorandum is even a step ahead in this direction.
BoI Take: The government must make its official communications such as circulars, office memorandums etc. as simple as possible. Many a time, a circular reads like a legal document which ordinary citizens can’t even comprehend. The use of illustrations or examples in explaining a tricky rule should be a norm rather than an exception.

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