Defence Ministry seeks removal of education fee cap for martyrs’ children

Nirmala Sitharaman

The Ministry of Defence headed by Nirmala Sitharaman has requested Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to remove the cap of Rs. 10,000 imposed by the government on financial assistance that is given to children of martyrs for payment towards their education fees.

Under this scheme, which was first introduced for providing financial support to families of martyrs of the 1971 war against Pakistan, the government pays tuition and boarding fees of children of all soldiers who are either killed or disabled in action.

Following recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, Arun Jaitley’s Finance Ministry had last year in July issued a notification declaring that the government’s expenditure towards provision of financial assistance for education cannot exceed Rs. 10,000 for each student.

This decision had irked the Chiefs of Staff Committee, comprising of Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs, who had expressed their disappointment in a letter addressed to the Defence Minister, stating, “These personnel have made the supreme sacrifice for the country and the provision of educational concession towards their wards is a small gesture to recognize their commitment to the defence of our country.”

In response to a question in this regard raised in Rajya Sabha last month, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre had said approximately 250 students have been affected by the government’s decision to cap educational concessions this financial year. He also explained that the government will save Rs. 3.2 crore per annum by enforcing such a cap, and the highest amount ever drawn under this scheme was Rs. 18.91 lakh per annum per student.