IBEF BLOG

INDIA ADDA – Perspectives On India

IBEF works with a network of stakeholders - domestic and international - to promote Brand India.

SEARCH

RECENT POSTS

Authors

Dikshu C. Kukreja
Dikshu C. Kukreja
Mr. V. Raman Kumar
Mr. V. Raman Kumar
Ms. Chandra Ganjoo
Ms. Chandra Ganjoo
Sanjay Bhatia
Sanjay Bhatia
Aprameya Radhakrishna
Aprameya Radhakrishna
Colin Shah
Colin Shah
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Alok Kirloskar
Alok Kirloskar
Pragati Khare
Pragati Khare
Devang Mody
Devang Mody
Vinay Kalantri
Vinay Kalantri

System for Pensions Administration – RAKSHA (SPARSH)

System for Pensions Administration – RAKSHA (SPARSH)

Overview of System for Pensions Administration – RAKSHA (SPARSH)
The System for Pension Administration – Raksha (SPARSH) is an integrated system for automating the sanction and disbursement of defence pensions. SPARSH was implemented by the Ministry of Defence in July 2021. Without relying on a third-party intermediary, this web-based system handles pension claims, and deposits pension payments into the bank accounts of defence pensioners. Pensioners have access to the Pensioner Portal, where they can check information about their pensions; access services; and file complaints to resolve grievances about their pension affairs. The vision of SPARSH is to provide a secure and dependable digital platform for all pension-related activities to the armed forces personnel.

Under SPARSH, a complete history of events and entitlements of the pensioner from the start of the pension to the date of the cessation of pension will be given with complete transparency. All pension cycle activities, including initiation and sanction, disbursement, revision, service and grievance request management, would be covered by SPARSH.

The SPARSH initiative is being executed by the Defence Accounts Department (DAD) through the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Prayagraj, which has integrated over 3,000 pension initiating, sanctioning and disbursement agencies to date. Veterans can access pension services at their doorstep, including the real-time tracking of grievance redressals and digital authentication of pensioners.

How does the SPARSH portal work?
The purpose of the SPARSH portal is to provide defence pensioners control over their pension account. This is a step in the direction of disintermediation of services. The SPARSH portal aims to be a fully automated portal that offer pensioners seamless services. SPARSH operates systematically and within a defined framework as outlined below.

  • Personnel whose pensions are due are onboarded on the portal when their pension claims are processed. Once the pension claim has been digitally audited and prepared to be sent to the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) for issuing a Pension Payment Order, the pensioner is given a unique account number. Pensioners receive the notification of their account numbers on the mobile numbers or email addresses they provide on submitting pension claims, which they can use to sign up in this portal.
  • The pension claim is made available to the pensioner on the portal for verification after it is prepared by the Service Record Holder and the associated Pay Accounts Office. The term given to this procedure is Pensioner Data Verification (PDV). PDV ensures the pensioner has the final say on information sent to Pension Sanction Authority.
  • The pensioner can submit necessary declarations, nominations and commutation requests through the portal.
  • Pensioners can enable special services through the portal to expedite the processing of their requests and signing of declarations, making the entire process fully paperless and hassle-free.

Recent reforms in SPARSH
SPARSH achieved a milestone by integrating approximately 5,000 defence pensioners into the platform in FY 2021-22. When the Government of India (GoI) recognized the need to enlarge the scope of SPARSH further, the scheme underwent significant revisions in March 2022, with the aim of achieving the goal of a Digital India.

  • A government of India included a provision that allows for the correction of "non-financial implication" data fields for migrated records in SPARSH, which will enable migrated pensioners to update their personal information, bank and family information via Profile Service Requests (PSR) on the Pensioner Portal or via functionality for data correction available to Record Offices & HOOs. When the requested changes are made, corrigendum Pension Payment Orders (PPOs) are prepared and approved by the appropriate authority.
  • The PPO sanction window has been shortened from 10 days to just 5 days, allowing for quicker sanction and improved efficiency of the pension sanctioning procedure.
  • Re-engineering the back-end process was enabled by creating payment files immediately after SPARSH approves a PPO. As a result, the verification process will be completed promptly by the disbursement agencies, and the pension will be disbursed quickly starting on the commencement date.
  • For direct entry of Indian Armed Forces Women Short Service Commission Officers (WSSCOs) with net qualifying service of greater than or equal to 20 years, SPARSH was updated to enable the timely processing of pension claims, providing them pensionary benefits.
  • Common Service Centers (CSCs) can now access SPARSH Service Center accounts using their current CSC login credentials with the introduction of the single sign-on login feature. The Ministry of Defence and CSCs e-Governance Services India Limited inked an MoU in February 2022 to provide access to SPARSH services to more than 4 lakh CSCs nationwide.

Outlook
SPARSH is one of the government's most crucial initiatives in line with the goal of Digital India. Continuous efforts have been made to promote and boost SPARSH's effectiveness since it was introduced in July 2021.

Since its launch, the Ministry of Defence inked several MoUs to boost the working of the SPARSH portal. In February 2022, an MoU was inked with Kotak Mahindra Bank, under which SPARSH will have service centres across 14 branches in areas with a high density of veterans. These centres would add to the network of almost 800 State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB) branches and more than 161 DAD offices acting as service centres to assist and facilitate pensioners to use SPARSH. Furthermore, to integrate Bank of Baroda and HDFC Bank across more than 14,000 branches in India as service centres for SPARSH, DAD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with both banks on September 21, 2022. According to Dr. Ajay Kumar, Secretary of Defence, the goal is to bring 17 lakh of the 32 lakh defence pensioners to SPARSH by the end of September 2022, and the remaining pensioners will be enrolled in SPARSH at the earliest.

SPARSH has digitally disbursed more than Rs. 3,090 crore (US$ 378.73 million) to defence pensioners in August 2022, strengthening the Digital India mission. Another significant achievement was the seamless migration of 562,946 defence pensioners to SPARSH's digital platform in August 2022. With 11 lakh beneficiaries or approximately 33% of all Indian defence pensioners, the number of pensioners onboarded to SPARSH exceeded 1 million. SPARSH has grown exponentially since its inception, with more than Rs. 11,600 crore (US$ 1.42 billion) disbursed in FY 2021-22, from just about Rs. 57 crore (US$ 6.99 million) in FY 2020-21. All of these accomplishments suggest that the SPARSH initiative of the Ministry of Defence will continue to grow rapidly in the future, helping all defence pensioners.

Partners
Loading...