Our bravehearts from the Armed forces lay down their lives in the service of the nation. Continuous counter-insurgency operations leave many homes without a breadwinner. Armed Forces Flag Day observed on December 7 every year brings to the forefront our obligation of looking after our disabled comrades-in-arms, widows and dependents of those who have sacrificed their lives for India.
What is Armed Forces Flag Day?
It is a day to honour the martyrs and the men in uniform who valiantly fought on our borders. During the course of achieving victories, in the various wars the nation has fought and in combating the ongoing cross-border terrorism and insurgency, our Armed Forces have lost and continue to lose valuable lives while some others are left divyang. At the same time, our admiration for the martyrs should not mean that we have little time for the living heroes who were wounded while doing their duty towards their motherland or their widows and children.
War veterans who are Persons with Disabilities (PwD) require care and rehabilitation so that they can lead a life of dignity. There are ex-servicemen who suffer from serious health conditions such as cancer for which they cannot afford the high cost of treatment. The requirement of keeping our Armed Forces young necessitates the release of our service personnel at 35-40 years of age. Every year, about 60,000 Defence Personnel are compulsorily retired. Caring for these ex-servicemen and their families is another task of national importance.
Role of corporates and citizens
Government measures at the Centre and the State level alone are inadequate to provide support to the disabled, non-pensioner, old and infirm ESM, their families, war widows and orphaned children. It is therefore the collective duty of every Indian citizen and the corporate sector to ensure rehabilitation and welfare of the dependents of our brave martyrs and disabled personnel. A concerted effort is made on this day to raise collections for the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF). Kendriya Sainik Board administratively controls AFFDF, which is utilised for providing financial assistance to needy ex-servicemen, war widows and their dependents.
CSR for ex-servicemen and war widows
Corporate social responsibility has left ex-servicemen, war veterans and war widows at the bottom of the pile of beneficiaries in their CSR schemes, according to a 2017 report by CRISIL. A handful of corporates like Bank of Baroda, Bajaj Auto, Shree Cement, SBI and LG are contributing to the AFFDF and rehabilitating war veterans and ex-servicemen. On the occasion of Armed Forces Flag Day, we salute the CSR ventures of these companies for the welfare of this section of society.
LG Electronics – Kar Salaam
In January 2017, white goods brand LG kickstarted the Kar Salaam CSR initiative, as part of their Republic Day celebrations, dedicated to the soldiers of India. Through Kal Salaam, LG endeavoured to salute our jawans’ service towards the country by capturing the wishes of citizens all over the nation and broadcasting it to those defending India. The campaign set a new Guinness World Record for “the longest line of sticky notes”. The company contributed Rs. 1 crore to CRPF Welfare Fund in 2017. Under the aegis of this initiative, LG Electronics is donating Rs. 1 crore this year to Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF) under Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat.
Shree Cement – Project Naman
Project Naman is a pan India CSR initiative of Shree Cement to provide free cement to the families of Armed Forces Personnel martyred in the past 20 years. The project was released in the run up to Vijay Diwas which is observed each year on 16 December to mark India’s victory in 1971 Bangladesh War and remember the sacrifices of Indian soldiers.
Under the Naman scheme, the family or the next of kin (NOK) of a Martyr who died in battle between 1st January 1999 to 1st January 2019, would be provided free cement to build a house on a plot size area of up to 4000 sq ft.
At the launch of ‘Naman’ initiative, Lt Gen Alok Kler (PVSM, VSM, GOC-in-C, Southern Western Command of the Indian Army) said, “This initiative in true sense has cemented a place for the company in the annals of the army history for the welfare for our martyrs and I sincerely hope that other large industries take a page out of this book and look towards the army and especially the people who have laid down their lives for the human service while forgetting their families.”
Lt Gen Alok Kler said that a lot more needs to be done for the army and our soldiers who have laid down their lives in the line of duty and other corporates should come forward for their welfare. The scheme would be implemented in association with Kendriya Sainik Board and executed by the Rajya Sainik Boards (RSBs) and Zilla Sainik Boards (ZSBs), Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
State Bank of India (SBI)
To support and enable our armed forces and their families, SBI has stepped forward to donate to the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund. State Bank of India has decided to donate Rs. 10 crore towards the welfare of dependent girl children of war veterans, ex-servicemen and war widows. On the occasion of the Armed Forces Flag Day 2020, the bank will sign an MoU with Kendriya Sainik Board stating utilization of funds toward educating the girl child.
The endowment of Rs. 10 crores will be distributed to provide Rs. 1000 per month for a year towards 8333 dependent girl children. The gesture aims to promote the national objective of Girl Child education under the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign launched by the Government. The bank aims to offer economic assistance to families of war veterans to ensure their overall progress.