Friday, December 6, 2013


Ramblings of a Retired Mind

Sometime in the 1970’s the Army started a residential housing scheme for Army personnel under the aegis of Army Welfare Housing Organization (AWHO).

Since, in the spirit of “jointmanship”, the Army had excluded the other two services, the Navy and Air Force started a similar scheme for Navy and Air Force personnel called Air Force Naval Housing Board (AFNHB).

These schemes were meant exclusively for Armed Forces personnel.

Recently I happened to visit one such housing complex and found a large number of civilians inside.

I asked my friend who lives there why there were so many civilians in a scheme meant exclusively for Defence Personnel, serving and retired.

My friend said: “This complex is more than 30 years old, so many of the original allottees have since died and their houses have been inherited by their children. As you know hardly any “army brats” join the army now-a-days and they prefer to work in the civilian world, so many of the civilians you see are kids of erstwhile “fauji” owners. Many of them are settled abroad or work in other cities, so they have given their houses to civilians on rent, since civilians give higher rent. Gradually, as the old “faujis” die and their civilian children inherit their houses, this will become a civilian colony – only the name will be fauji!”

So, in effect, are the AWHO and AFHNB building houses for civilians?

I think it would be better if AWHO and AFNHB build Old Age Homes instead of houses.

These old age homes can be allotted to senior citizen military veterans on monthly rental basis till they die.

At least, this way, the ownership will remain with the military and a larger number of needy ex-servicemen will benefit.

In any case, children of most military officers are settled abroad and even those who live in India are busy with their careers and may not live with their parents.

The needs of veteran defence personnel abandoned by their children in old age will be better served by Old Age Homes with various concomitant geriatric facilities like Assisted Living, medical care etc

So, does it not make sense to scrap the existing AWHO and AFNHB and create a Defence Services Old Age Home Scheme (DSOAHS) covering all the three services?

Let the Armed Forces stop building houses and start building Old Age Homes for service personnel – this will give veterans a sense of security.

Do you agree?

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