Advice to Officers in India/Chapter 2

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CHAPTER II.


1. MEDICAL FUND.— The object of this fund is to afford every year seven annuities of £300 each to all surgeons who have completed a period of seventeen years' service in India,as also to increase promotion by withdrawing so many annually from the higher grades of the list. It was established in 1833 and was joined by every member of the medical service with only a few exceptions. As its prospects improved most of the dissentients gave in their adherence,and now only ten or twelve are non-subscribers, for all assistants who joined subsequent to its establishment, were by orders of Government obliged to join the fund.

No surgeon is allowed to claim an annuity until he has paid at least CR. 15000 (interest at 6 per cent, upon the amount of his donations and subscriptions liberally allowed by Government included) The demand for annuities has of late years been about three times greater than the supply, and none have hitherto got one in less time than 25 years standing. The average applications of the last 5 years, have been about 20, the greater number being men in the prime of life. The subscriptions and donations vary according to rank, that of assistants being recently raised to 39 13 1 rupees, and of surgeons 69 10 11 rupees per month, regularly deducted in the pay office and placed to account in the Treasury, at 6 per cent, interest. The subscriptions and donations though heavy are paid with alacrity, and the most improvident are forced to make a provision for their declining years. After all, the annuities are got at only half their actual value,the lapsed subscriptions making up for the other half. The annuities are paid half-yearly at the India House.

The Medical Fund is now in a flourishing condition and is of the very utmost importance to its members, for without it their prospects would indeed be forlorn. At present the number of annuitants amounts to 101.

2. MILITARY FUND.—This is a very valuable institution and every officer in the service is obliged to subscribe to it. Of late years its finances have become embarassed, and to adjust these, considerable additions have been made to the subscriptions. Its chief intention is to provide for pensions to widows, and assist young and poor officers when obliged to return to England on medical certificate.

An assistant on joining the fund, if single, must pay a donation of CR, 202 8, and a subscription of 5 10 per month; a further donation of CR. 75 on promotion, and a further one of CR. 225 on marriage and subscription of CR.12 8. Surgeons if single pay CR. 9, and if married CR. 20 per month.

All subscribers proceeding to Europe on sick certificate and not possessed of property to the amount of 5000 rupees are entitled to 1200 rupees to provide a passage home. They are also allowed 400 rupees for equipment if not possessed of property to the amount of CR. 2000. Assistants are further entitled to £50 a year while in Europe, if not possessed of an income exclusive of pay to that amount.

The widow of an assistant-surgeon is allowed 1200 for passage to England, and an annuity of £102, and if deceased has subscribed as a Captain, a Major or a Colonel to £136, £205 and £342 respectively.

This fund is not so well managed as could be wished; the managers are constantly changing, the votes are irregularly collected and given without due consideration; charity and benevolence seem to guide the voters, rather than that stern sense of duty exacted by the actuaries, and hence disbursements beyond their calculations, and embarassments beyond the resources of the fund.

3. ORPHAN FUND.—All medical officers are obliged to subscribe to the Orphan Fund, assistant-surgeon pay 3 12 subscription and surgeons 6, whether married or not. From this fund, the orphans of all subscribers are provided for either with their relations in England, or at the schools at Kidderpore and Alipore near to Calcutta; Kidderpore is the asylum for the orphans of officers only; a spacious and elegant building, in an extensive park, where the orphans, both boys and girls, have a comfortable home and the means of a good education.

The allowance for each child remaining under the care of its mother or guardian, is C.R. 20 a month while under five years of age, and C.R. 35 after that age.

4. LAWRENCE ASYLUM.—Great as are the advantages of the upper and lower orphan schools of Calcutta, yet it is a subject of regret that they are not greater. Children born in India and brought up to puberty in the relaxing climate of Bengal are poor weakly creatures, without energy either of body or mind and fit only to blow a fife and beat a drum or sit at a desk as a section writer, and these are the professions generally aspired to by the scholars. A very philanthropic and noble example is now before the public in the Lawrence Asylum at Sunawur amongst the Himmalayahs well worthy of imitation. There, in a climate altogether European, nearly 200 boys and girls of a class similar to the pupils of the orphan schools, are being brought up, imbued with English ideas by an English method of education, full of English health and energy, and likely to become efficient members of society, remarkably contrasting with their unfortunate compatriots of Kidderpore and Alipore. I feel assured that a greater blessing could not be conferred upon these orphans than by transferring both schools to the hills, and that the service at large would willingly subscribe to meet the expense of removal.

5. LORD CLIVE'S FUND.—This fund is supported by a sum of money presented to Lord Clive, but set apart to provide pensions for officers wounded or worn out and unfit for service before they have completed their time for regular pension, as also to provide annuities for the widows of such officers. Its advantages are open to all officers, and without subscription.

Assistant-surgeons unfit for service receive per annum £45
Surgeons unfit for serviceditto recive per annumditto £91

The widows of medical officers receive one-half of the above sums.

To be entitled to the above annuities, assistants must make affidavit that they do not possess property to the amount of £1000, and surgeons of £2000.

6. PENSIONS, Regular.—The following retiring pensions are now in force without reference to rank as formerly.

  Years' Service.   Per Annum.
Medical officers after 20 Three years, furlough
included.
£191 0 0
"" 24 250 0 0
"" 28 300 0 0
"" 28 300 0 0
"" 32 365 0 0
"" 35 500 0 0
"" 38 700 0 0
Officers of the Line after 23 191 15
"" 27 292 4 0
"" 31 365 5 0

Without reference to the rank attained.

7. WOUND PENSIONS.—Government are most liberal in granting pensions for wounds received in action. Every officer severely wounded, is allowed compensation or "blood money" proportionate to the extent of his wound, and those who have lost an eye, an arm, or a limb, or injuries equivalent to such a loss,receive extra pensions for life. After every general action, a medical committee is assembled to report upon the nature of officers' wounds. At one time the medical committee was allowed to recommend the amount of compensation,but that privilege has of late been withdrawn,and they are now restricted to giving a circumstantial account of wounds, leaving the amount of compensation to be settled by higher authority. Gratuities for severe wounds less than the loss of an eye or a limb, vary from three to eighteen months full pay of the regimental rank of the officer wounded. Pensions for the loss of an eye or a limb are also regulated by the rank of the wounded officer; Lieut. Generals receiving £400, Colonels £300, Majors £200, Captains and Surgeons £100, Lieutenant and Assistant-surgeons £70 per annum for such injury.

8. OFFICERS KILLED IN ACTION or dying of wounds within six months after an action.—The widow and legitimate children of such officers, or failing them the mother, or failing her the sisters of such deceased officers, on whom they depended for support, shall, in addition to pensions from other funds, receive the following pensions:— The mother or sister of a colonel, £90; of a major, £70; of a captain £50; and of a lieutenant, £40 per annum. The above pensions do not debar them from donation batta in the event of such being granted to the troops for actions in which the officers fell.

9. DONATION BATTA.— In most campaigns six or twelve months' donation batta is allowed to all officers; that for a Surgeon for six months, being CR. 1095 12, for an assistant CR. 710.

10. INVESTMENT & REMITTANCE OF MONEY.—It may be well for the young officer to know that when he has any spare cash he can at any time and without trouble deposit it through the paymaster in the Government Treasury, where it will accumulate by interest without risk of bankruptcy; and that all officers are allowed to remit home to near relations a limited sum, annually payable at the India House. Surgeons are limited to £100, and assistants to £70 per annum. This may also be done through the paymaster with but little trouble and no risk, and in general at a favourable rate of exchange.

11. DEBT.— I would strongly advise every young officer to lay it down as a sacred maxim not, if possible, to live beyond his pay; and at first he will be able to do so only by great moderation and economy, but if he can escape that rock at first he may expect an easy course thereafter. Nothing is more tempting than the possession of rich plate, a handsome Arab, or a stylish buggy; no pleasure is so fascinating as entertaining one's comrades at frequent champagne parties, or taking a lead in the expensive gaieties of the fashionable world; and nothing is more easy than to raise money for such purposes; but all these he must deny himself for a time till he can afford them, if he would preserve his independence. Some are so far deluded as to hope to make money by horse dealing,horse racing, cards, and billiards. Perhaps one man in a hundred may succeed,but his notoriety is most unenviable!

It is a lamentable fact that a large proportion of Indian officers are deeply involved in debt, and that the monthly stoppages made from their pay in the pay-office to meet bank loans, leaves them but a scanty sum on which to exist. The banks are always open to the contract of loans on the security of two other officers. A B and C are hard up for money, and agree to give mutual security. A borrows 1,000 rupees from the Simlah Bank, giving B and C as his securities; B borrows 1,000 from the North Western Bank, giving A and C as his securities; C borrows 1,000 from the Agra Bank, giving A and B as his securities, all binding themselves to pay ten per cent, interest till the loan is paid off. Soon after, perhaps, A dies, and B is killed in battle, and their estates being insolvent, C is made liable for their debts when struggling to get rid of his own. Nothing is more injurious to an officer's character than to be constantly summoned before a Court of Requests; and taking the benefit of the insolvent act disqualifies for further service.

Borrowing money from soldiers or native subordinates in public offices is a crime, liable to be tried by court martial.

12. WILLS AND ESTATES.— When an officer dies in India, a committee of adjustment, composed of three officers, is immediately assembled to search for a will, to make an inventory of the property, sell off the live stock, and pay all regimental debts. Should the deceased have made a will, and the estate be solvent, the executors carry out the wishes expressed in the will. Should no will be found, the estate falls under the administration of the registrar of the supreme court, whose duty it is to administer to all intestate estates, and withhold a per-centage for his trouble. Unfortunately, great delay takes place in this mode of administration, the funds may lie for years in the hands of the administrator; and hence the urgent reason for every officer to make his will, and appoint two or more of his brother officers his executors.

13. FURLOUGH.— Great alterations have lately taken place in the new furlough regulations, but as these are still in a state of transition and may still under go modifications, it would be premature to enter into particulars. However, the old rules by which officers were allowed three years' furlough to Europe after ten years' service in India, are still open to officers who were in the service previous to the introduction of the new rules. Every officer ought to take his furlough as soon as he can get it, even though his health be unimpaired. A return to Europe will enable him to renew associations with home, to rub off the rust of the tropics and bring his experience and knowledge up to the standard of the times. Three years judiciously spent on furlough, ought to be considered the three best years of one's life.

14. E. I. U. SERVICE CLUB.—Before closing this chapter on the institutions of the service, the Club is entitled to a few remarks; already the subscription list amounts to upwards of 2,000, and its daily visitors on an average to 150; the situation is most convenient,and all the luxuries and comforts of London Club life are there. It is very agreeable to the stranger, otherwise lost in the wilderness of London,to find a habitation and a home immediately after his arrival, and to feel that he is as much at ease in the Club as in his own mess-room, where he meets so many old friends with fellow feelings and associations; from the member of council to the junior magistrate; from the major-general to the ensign, from the member of the medical board to the assistant-surgeon. It is to be regretted that more officers in India do not belong to the Club, for only a fourth part of the United Service have joined it. This is not quite consistent with the esprit de corps so generally met with in Indian officers.

The club house with all its advantages, is however only a family mansion and is but a humble representative of the Indian army compared to the club palaces of the Royal United Service in its immediate neighbourhood. The managers would very willingly have a better house, but, with due regard to the finances of the club, their best intentions are neutralised by the want of funds to enable them to meet the expenses of a worthy representative of the East India United Service.