On September 18, 2016, India witnessed the deadliest attack on its security forces in almost two decades. In the Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir, four heavily armed terrorists attacked army personnel.
The attack left 18 soldiers martyred and 19 injured. This led to a wide outrage among the people of India, and the armed forces responded by conducting a surgical strike on September 29, 2016. Eight teams of 30 Indian commandos, armed with Kalashnikovs, Tavors, rocket-propelled guns and thermobaric weapons, reportedly entered the terrain of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir at 2:30 am in the morning and eliminated 35 to 50 terrorists.
The move received the adulation of the common man and the celebrations began. However, among all these celebrations, what went unnoticed was the plight of the families of those soldiers who had lost their lives 11 days ago.
The fallen heroes belonged to the states of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. They left behind mothers, sons, daughters, wives and fathers in tears across the nation.
The scary numbers
Let’s take a look at how we reward the soldiers who defend our boarders and protect us from harm. An Indian soldier who is recruited as a sepoy, which is the first stage of recruitment, is paid a salary of merely Rs.5,200. This is incremented at a super low rate of 3% per annum to a maximum limit of Rs.20,200. Yes, they do get extra benefits, such as grade pay, military service pay and dearness allowance. but even then, the salary of a newly recruited soldier comes to around Rs.15,000.
Taking into account the inflation that India has seen over the past decade, the amount our soldiers take home seems meagre. It’s in no away sufficient to meet regular expenses, let alone add to savings for the future. There is a difference in the pay scale of the same rank officer on the basis of the area of posting. So if a soldier is unable to make ends meet, he puts his life in greater risk. If you’re thinking that India has not been in war since 1999, so the number of casualties would be less, here are some facts that would change the way you think. The casualties during the Kargil war under operation Vijay in 1999 was 530. Over a period of a little over a decade since then, about 3,987 soldiers have lost their lives, while 390 individuals were driven to commit suicide.
The pressure of working in difficult situations and fear for the family are so high that between 2009 and 2012, more than 25,000 junior commissioned officers and jawans opted to take pre-mature retirement.
Children of army officers are often referred to as “army brats,” but what people fail to realize is that these kids have to live away from their father for years. Moreover, in case there’s an unfortunate event like Uri, they have to spend the rest of their lives without the loving hand of their father over their heads.
To meet their financial needs is a different story altogether. After the Uri attacks, once again voices were raised to secure the future of these kids by providing them financial security.
In one such incredibly heartwarming gesture, Mahesh Swami, a businessman from Gujarat, came forward and decided to sponsor the children of all 18 martyrs of Uri.
He was moved after watching the daughter of one of the soldiers crying on television as she revealed that her father had asked her to study hard.
The Government of India already has many provisions like 5% quota in admission for the children of the army personnel who have died during service, but sometimes all this is not enough.
Reducing the financial insecurities
There are many steps that a soldier can take, like opting for term plan or putting money into a fixed deposit, which makes the financial future of his family a little more secure after he is gone:
- Make Right Investments: Invest smartly from whatever you earn. Investing in a house is a good option, as this remains a great asset for your family long after you are gone. In the longer run, real estate prices tend north.
- Opt for a Term Plan: Every responsible parent should have insurance. A term plan allows you to get a similar cover as life insurance by paying lower premiums. You should definitely have insurance in case you know you’re going to be posted in an area where the situation is tense.
- Save as Much as You Can: Just like you have to invest smartly, you need to spend smartly too. Every penny that you save will be beneficial in the event of a crisis.
Maryada Prasad, a management student from Pune, released a petition for free education for the kids of India’s martyrs. Already 70,000 Indian citizens had signed the petition as of October 8. More such steps can ensure a better life for the families of Indian soldiers. However, it’s best to not depend fully on government schemes and to proactively safeguard the financial future of the family with a term plan.