WELFARE IN NEPALESE ARMY
Soldiering is a full time job and is extremely demanding. The Nepalese Army helps its soldiers by making their family life easier by sound management of the limited resources at its disposal. Schooling of the children, health services for family members are all part of the welfare activities carried out by the Army. The relationship continues even after retirement as veterans also benefit from Army support. In the context of the current challenges that affect the soldier and his family alike, the NA has sought to revitalize the welfare schemes for all ranks. Some of the welfare schemes in practice are - schools and scholarships for service children, medical coverage for soldiers and families, housing schemes, legal assistance, insurance schemes, Army postal facility, special programs for war widows and families and facilities for the purchases of various items on installment basis.
A unique feature of NA welfare scheme is that it is funded by contributions from serving personnel. In most other countries, this burden is shouldered through the tax payers. Personnel on deployment to Peace Support Operations under the UN mandate, contribute to the Welfare Fund. This fund was created in 1975. In light of the recent employment of the Nepalese Army in counter insurgency operations and the high numbers of casualties taken, this fund is critical to the maintenance of the welfare schemes. It also helps lessen the burden on the government in this vital aspect, which is so crucial for the maintenance of morale of soldiers who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if so demanded.
In 1973 Army personnel participating in United Nations operations were provided a monthly allowance of US$ 500 per person. This allowance was steadily increased to US$ 988 by 1991 and now stands at US$1028 per person per month. Out of this allowance, each soldier contributes 22 percent (US$ 226.16) to the welfare fund. Besides this source, the income made from provision of medical facilities to civilians, interest from banks and financial institutions, income from Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahabidhyalaya and income from various other sources go into
this fund. As of 1st March 2010, the welfare fund amounted to Rs. 13,520,688,000(to be audited). The Prime Minister is the patron of this welfare scheme. The fund is managed by a board as per Chapter 6 of the Military Act 2063, consisting of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) as chair person, two members consisting of one ex serviceman and one active serviceman appointed by the patron, two members consisting of one ex serviceman and one active serviceman appointed by the COAS, one first class gazetted officer from the Finance Ministry as member and one first class gazetted officer from the Defence Ministry as member. Since its establishment the fund has been annually audited by the Office of the Auditor General. The interest the Welfare Fund receives from this amount runs various welfare activities as outlined below:
- Medical Treatment: The Welfare Fund has been financing the expenditure incurred in providing medical facilities to veterans and the families of both servicemen and veterans. Such facilities are provided through the Birendra Military Hospital and through the medical units located outside Kathmandu valley.
- Accommodation: The fund provides Rs 200 per person per month to be deposited into each serving personnel's account in the Military Accommodation Project. The balance is drawable on retirement. The construction of family quarters for serving personnel is another priority area. A total of 1785 family accommodations have been constructed to date from this fund. 171 accommodations for the families of service personnel displaced when the Nepalese Army was called upon to counter insurgency have also been financed by this fund. Temporary accommodation has also been made available for the families of the martyred when they come to Kathmandu for documentation.
- Rehabilitation center: The welfare fund runs a rehabilitation center for those disabled during military operations. The center provides artificial limbs and vocational training.
- Allowance for widows/widowers: The fund provides a monthly allowance of Rs 200 per person for life to widows or widowers of those martyred in service.
- Scholarships: Birendra Aishwariya scholarship scheme was established in 1975 and it is available to the children of service personnel in pursuit of higher education outside Nepal or for high school education in Nepal. The COAS scholarship scheme was also established in 1975 for the children of service personnel martyred in the line of duty.
- Education: The Welfare fund has been running several schools including a higher secondary boarding school in Bhaktapur for the children of service personnel since 1978. Cash benefits to those wounded or martyred during military operations: The Welfare Fund provides cash benefits for various purposes to the service personnel disabled in the line of duty or to the next of kin of those martyred. Insurance: The welfare fund pays the monthly and annual subscription charges for the various insurance schemes that all service personnel are entitled to.
- Hire-Purchase schemes: The Army through the welfare fund, makes available to the servicemen, various household appliances on easy installments. This helps raise the living standard of the service personnel to a certain
- Cash loans: The Welfare Fund also provides cash loans on easy terms to service personnel having completed 10 years of service.
The Welfare Fund also provides the servicemen for celebration of important national functions and religious festivals. The Fund provides annual cash benefits to Nepal Rashtriya Bhutpurva Sainik Sangathan, an association of ex servicemen.
Besides the welfare schemes run by the Welfare Fund, service personnel also contribute 10 percent of their monthly allowance to the Provident Fund. The contributions are doubled and deposited into the respective account of the contributor. This amount is collectable with interest on retirement or as cash advances during the service period. The Provident Fund also provides home loans and other similar consumption loans on relatively easy terms.
It would be only fair to claim that the Nepalese Army takes its responsibilities of the welfare of all service personnel very seriously. In fact the Nepalese Army is a pioneer in the country in setting up such welfare schemes using internal resources. The success of such welfare schemes can be measured by the fact that a number of other organizations have emulated this example of the Army. The resources available for this purpose may be limited, but the benefits have been maximized by sound management.
Welfare Nepali PDF (73 KB)