Retired college teachers in Bihar face financial difficulties as they have not received their pension for four months, reports M I Khan.
Professor D P Sinha, Professor Khurshid Alam, Professor Devendar Prasad Singh and Professor Prabhat Kumar all face the same problem.
Amid increasing fears of a third COVID wave, these retired college teachers in Bihar are struggling financially as they have not been paid their pension for the past four months.
Like them, thousands of retired college and university teachers across the state are struggling since they too have not received their pension.
This is happening despite the Bihar government's commitment before the Patna high court that pension payment would not be delayed at any cost.
Due to old age, these pensioners are unable to chase overnment officials or fight in any way against the continued delay.
"I am worried. Since June, in order to manage my monthly expenditure, I have been forced to withdraw from the money I had kept aside for health emergencies. As I am not keeping well due to age-related illness, the non-payment of my pension has affected me badly," says Professor Sinha, who in his late 70s.
Professor Sinha, who retired as professor of philosophy from Rajendra College -- which is affiliated to the Jai Prakash University in Chapra, the district headquarters of Saran -- adds, "Apart from medical expenses, groceries, milk, vegetables and the day to-day expenses, my unmarried daughter's education is funded by my pension."
"Without my pension -- which has not been paid for months -- we are facing a financial crunch," he says. "Though it is difficult at this age, we are somehow managing."
He is equally concerned about family pensioners -- the families who get pension after their breadwinner passes away or who continue to get pension after the demise of the pensioner -- "who have to suffer more as their monthly pension amount is less than ours.
"I personally know several family pensioners who are in trouble as their pension has not been paid since June. It is not easy; they are struggling to manage. Some of them have been forced to knock on the doors of moneylenders or borrow at high interest rates to survive. Some are being helped by close relatives."
Professor Alam, who retired as professor of geography from Gopeshwar College, Hathua in Gopalganj district, is struggling as well. His married son is jobless and the family is dependent on his pension.
"My son's business failed in the wake of the COVID pandemic and the lockdown. Our only source of income is my pension."
Professor Alam and his family live in Patna.
"We are surviving with the help of our savings. If that was not there, we would have had to borrow from our close relatives."
Retired college and university teachers, he says. should get their pension on time. "We have spent our lives teaching students. In our old age, we deserve a comfortable life."
"We are facing difficulties because this is the first time that our pension has been delayed by three to four months," says the professor. "Since the last month, university authorities have been assuring me that my pension will be paid within a few days."
Professor Kumar, who has retired from the Lalit Narayan Mithila University in Darbhanga district, has similar woes.
"The government is not concerned that retired university teachers are struggling without pension. It is really disgusting how the government is doing things."
Professor Kumar last received his pension in April.
Professor Singh, who is in his mid-70s and has retired as professor of political science from Jai Prakash University, says he is dependent on his pension for his costly medical treatment.
"There are more than 1,000 pensioners from the university; most of them badly affected as our pension has not been paid for months. It is a bad practice."
Retired college and university teachers have been facing a delay in getting their pension since January 2021, says Professor Singh.
"Before that, we were getting our pension regularly. First, it was delayed from January to March and now it has been delayed from June onwards."
Despite his ill health, he is a leader of an association of retired teachers facing pension delays.
Some retired colleagues expressed their anguish to him. "Some say our association is useless and is not doing anything. Some have even abused us even though we are not at fault."
S K Singh, a teacher who retired from Gaya's Magadh University, is angry as well.
"Will retired central government employees, or administrative officials, or anyone else, face a similar delay in their pension? It only happens to retired college and university teachers in Bihar. This is an example how we treat teachers and higher education institutions."
A senior education department official said the salaries and pensions for all universities would be released in a few days.
In Bihar, nearly 450,00 contractual school teachers, locally known as Niyojit Shikshak, are also facing a difficult situation as, time and again, they are not paid their salaries for months.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com