The System for Pensions Administration – RakSHa (SPARSH) has achieved a major milestone of successfully on-boarding nearly Five Lakh Defence Pensioners onto the platform.
In keeping with the Digital India vision of the Government of India, the Ministry of Defence implemented SPARSH for pensioners of the Indian Armed Forces as well as Defence Civilians as an integrated system for automation of sanction and disbursement of defence pension. The armed forces and other organisations were onboarded to the platform in phases, beginning with the Indian Army from August 2021.
This web-based system processes pension claims and credits pension directly into the bank accounts of defence pensioners without relying on any external intermediary. SPARSH has grown exponentially since its inception, with more than Rs 11,600 Crores disbursed in the Financial Year 2021-22, from just about Rs 57 crores in FY 2020-21. The SPARSH platform underwent some major updations in the month of March 2022. Major updates are:
1. Introduction of provision for correction of ‘non-financial implication’ data fields for migrated records in SPARSH, which will allow migrated pensioners to update their personal information, bank, communication and family details either via Profile Service Requests (PSR) on Pensioner Portal or via functionality for data correction available to Record Offices & HOOs. Changes requested will reflect in corrigendum PPOs generated after approval by respective authorities.
2. The pensioner data verification (PDV) window has been reduced from 10 days to just 5 days, enabling faster Pension Payment Order (PPO) sanction and bringing in further efficiency in the pension sanctioning process.
3. Backend Process re-engineering: Generation of payment files immediately post-sanction of PPO via SPARSH. This will ensure timely completion of verification by disbursement agencies and on-time payment of Pension from the date of commencement.
4. SPARSH Updated to ensure timely processing of pension claims for direct entry Indian Armed Forces Women Short Service Commission Officers (WSSCOs) with net Qualifying Service of more than or equal to 20 years, granting them pensionary benefits.
5. Introduction of provision for single sign-on login to SPARSH for Common Service Centres (CSCs), enabling them to access SPARSH Service Center accounts using existing CSC credentials. The Ministry of Defence had signed an MoU with the CSCs e-Governance Services India Limited in February to offer SPARSH services across more than 4 lakh CSCs across the country.
The Defence Accounts Department has been the nodal implementing agency for Project SPARSH, which is envisaged on a ‘whole of the government’ approach and carefully integrates over 3000 pension initiating, sanctioning and disbursement agencies and brings pensions services right at the door step of the veterans – from digital process of pensioner verification to real time tracking of grievance redressal.
The SPARSH Portal may be accessed at: https://sparsh.defencepension.gov.in/