The Hush Post: Sixty six years after it was set up, the Army Officers’ Benevolent Fund (AOBF), a contribution-based welfare scheme for widows and aged soldiers, is being shut. The scheme will cease to exist from January 1, 2018.

The fund was first started in April 1951 with the objective of offering financial help to widows or next of kin of subscribers who die in harness or after retirement. According to the news report in a regional English daily, “The scheme, when launched, was meant to be more like an insurance scheme. Over the years, the scope of the fund was enhanced to include a platinum grant and centenarian grant to all veteran officers who attained the age of 75 and 100 years, respectively.”

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Since 67 years ago when it began, there were no welfare schemes available, this was a good idea. With various welfare schemes now in place, it has been concluded that maintaining an organisation like AOFB is no more cost-effective,” a letter issued by the Ceremonials and Welfare Directorate at Army Headquarters states.

Subscription towards the AOBF is compulsory for all Army officers, including those on deputation. Right now, the Army’s officer cadre is about 41,000 against the authorised strength of 49,737 officers (excluding the medical stream), who are required to contribute Rs 120 per month.

All those who subscribe or next of kin are entitled to receive either the platinum grant or the demise grant, whichever becomes applicable earlier. For officers who die in harness, retired officer with 20 years of service and those invalided out, irrespective of the time of service in terms of period, receive a lump sum grant of Rs 50,000. This is proportionately reduced for retired officer having service less than 20 years.

Once the fund closes, the contributions made by all officers, will be refunded on a pro-rata basis, depending on the total subscription made and also depending upon the availability of funds.

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