The System for Pensions Administration – RakSHa (SPARSH) has reached a major milestone with the successful onboarding of nearly 500,000 Defence Pensioners.
The Ministry of Defence implemented System for Pensions Administration – RakSHa for retirees of the Indian Armed Forces as well as Defense Civilians as an integrated system for automating the sanction and disbursement of defense pensions, in line with the Government of India’s Digital India vision. The platform was gradually rolled out to the armed forces and other organizations, starting with the Indian Army in August 2021.
This web-based system processes pension claims and deposits pensions directly into defense pensioners’ bank accounts, eliminating the need for an external intermediary. SPARSH has grown at an exponential rate since its inception, with over Rs 11,600 crores disbursed in FY 2021-22, up from around Rs 57 crores in FY 2020-21. In March 2022, the SPARSH platform received some significant updates. The following are major updates:
- 1. Incorporation of a provision in SPARSH for the correction of ‘non-financial implication’ data fields for migrated records, allowing migrated pensioners to update their personal information, bank, communication, and family details via Profile Service Requests (PSR) on the Pensioner Portal or data correction functionality available to Record Offices and HOOs. After approval by the appropriate authorities, the requested changes will be reflected in corrigendum PPOs.
- The pensioner data verification (PDV) window has been reduced from ten to five days, allowing for faster PPO sanction and increasing the efficiency of the pension sanctioning process.
- Reengineering of backend processes: generation of payment files as soon as a PPO is approved via SPARSH. This will ensure that disbursement agencies complete their verification in a timely manner and that the Pension is paid on time from the start date.
- Updated to ensure prompt 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, allowing them to receive pension benefits.
- SPARSH now allows Common Service Centres (CSCs) to log in with a single sign-on, allowing them to access SPARSH Service Center accounts with their existing CSC credentials. In February, the Ministry of Defence signed an agreement with CSCs e-Governance Services India Limited to provide SPARSH services to over 4 lakh CSCs across the country.
Project SPARSH, which is based on a “whole of government” approach, carefully integrates over 3000 pension initiating, sanctioning, and disbursement agencies and brings pensions services right to the doorstep of veterans – from the digital process of pensioner verification to real-time tracking of grievance redressal – has the Defense Accounts Department as the nodal implementing agency.