Visitor to note : This is a post on submission of Life certificate by pensioners, and if the subject does not interest you. . . . .Bye
In case you are still reading, hello dear Pensioner / well wisher.
This is an account of the travails of a pensioner who would like to assert that he is alive!
In India, many categories of people receiving Pension were expected to appear before the Pension disbursing official , who will certify that he/she is alive on that day, thereby becoming eligible to receive pension until the next appearance at the specified date. The process of appearing before the official in a short window of time every year, was causing concern for some people who are immobile due to age or those who travel out of India and also those who are abroad with their relatives, as the non submission would be taken that the pensioner is not alive leading to suspension of the pension.
As part of Digital India process, the Government of India , introduced an alternate scheme of submitting this Life Certificate digitally, making use of the Unique Identification process with the Aadhaar card, dispensing with the personal appearance requirement. As is with Banks in India, initially many were reluctant to embrace this process more due to their lack of initiative to understand the process as evidenced in the stakeholders learning their lessons out of computerization late which the representative bodies of employees stoutly resisted only to realize later that it actually eases the work of their members in addition to sizeable incentives in the name of allowances.
The banks in their misplaced defiance had the audacity to drag its feet on a scheme introduced by the Prime Minister of India in 2014 and it took some legal arm twisting by some pensioners to make them fall in line.
Some banks took to the scheme reluctantly but did its best to drive the pensioners away from it and recommended physical submission ! Even now a pensioner in Karnataka lamented that the bank official there said that it is illegal to submit life certificate digitally !!!
As pressures mounted, the banks adopted the Digital Life Certificate as part of the process and started including this in their circulars giving legitimacy to DLC. But, the communication from banks to its pensioners wildly varied. While a stringent circular announced that failing to submit Life Certificate before the stipulated date will result in the stoppage of pension disbursement, the circular itself was never made to reach all the pensioners. It is time the banks realize that their formal directive of displaying the circular at the branches is not serving the purpose as the aged pensioners rarely visit branches due to Internet banking & ATM. While banks like Union Bank of India informed their pensioners with SMS and Emails, many banks did not even care to inform their pensioners about these requirements. Wonder why the banks should not use the same electronic channels to communicate to the pensioners, which they do to their advantage ?
In the meanwhile the system of Digital Life Certificate (DLC) submission through Jeevan Pramaan (https://jeevanpramaan.gov.in/) using a simple Finger Print scanner was getting more popular and had started attracting more pensioners with every passing year. The govt has done well to give a very detailed process and an unambiguous FAQ in the Jeevan Pramaan website.
I decided to try this method in 2019 and with some efforts was able to submit the DLC successfully and detailed the steps I undertook in my blogpost at: https://bankerkapali.blogspot.com/2019/11/digital-life-certificate.html for the benefit of others.
This year , based on earlier experience and egged by the confidence attempted the same and was pleasantly surprised that the DLC was generated and submitted with minimal efforts.
My assumption that the issue settled there was belied when my bank dragged its feet to recognize the submission.
We are used to adapt any process hesitantly and in line with that the yearly circular on life certificate carefully avoided mention of individual acknowledgement of DLC from the bank to pensioners. This created some anxiety for the pensioners , as even after submission one is not sure whether the same is being recognized by the banks concerned despite clear directives from the Government of India.
I submitted my DLC on 10-Nov-2020, well ahead of the stipulated deadline of 31-Dec-2020. Though Jeevan Pramaan clearly states that the pensioners need not follow-up, knowing the process in our banks and by way of abundant caution, I communicated to my Pension payment branch about the same enclosing the DLC, for their records.
Keeping with the tradition, the branch kept silent with no response and slowly I escalated the issue to the pension cell, which was also silent on the communication.
Wanting to create a more visible evidence, I chose to lodge a grievance in the Pensioner's portal of the bank, despite the discouragement of seeing my earlier grievance of 2018 in an OPEN status !!! So much for online grievance redressal system in a nationalized bank ???!!
Undeterred, I lodged a complaint and waited for a response , which was expectedly absent.
Then, I chose to lodge a 'Customer Complaint' through provision in the bank's portal , but was stonewalled with a repeated 'Run Time Error' , at the last stage of submission.
Peeved at the indifference and lack of avenues , I chose to approach a General manager of the bank , giving details of all the efforts , copying the branch. Within hours came a reply from the branch that the DLC, submitted on 10th Nov has been approved on the 15th Dec, 2020.
The question is why should the pensioner be allowed to go from pillar to post to register a compliance that has been made by him?
What prevents the branch management to update the status or acknowledge such an important action by the pensioner, as the Jeeva Pramaan clearly states that a message will be sent to the bank immediately?
What is the Accountability of the Senior Manager of the bank who failed in his duty?
Of what purpose is the online Grievance Management systems and where is the accountability for an issue that has kept open for over 18 months !!
Should an Executive be dragged and his attention drawn for making such simple updates??
Last but not the least, what is preventing the banks from communicating with the customers directly through email (whoever has), while this data is being collected every year ??
Despite all the talks of computerization and digital banking, it is sad that some banks in India still require names to dropped to shake them up from their Rip van winkle like slumber.
Greater accountability, not only in Non Performance Assets , but in every facet of official duties is the need of the hour. The erring bankers should also realize that it is futile to compare themselves with better organized corporate sectors when they do not match their service standards. Such indifference to customers in corporate sectors will be considered sacrilege and the doors will be opened for officials exhibiting such dereliction to be shown the exit path, into oblivion.
Such bankers, should realize that it is not enough to compare them with corporate sector just for the purpose of wages but should also learn to perform like them.