Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged people to contribute in the Armed Forces Flag Day fund for the welfare of armed forces personnel. “On Armed Forces Flag Day we salute the indomitable courage of our forces and their families. I also urge you to contribute towards the welfare of our forces,” the prime minister said in his message.
Many nations around the world observe some kind of Armed Forces Day to honor their military forces. It is celebrated in the United States as a day to appreciate all active duty service members. This day is not to be confused with veteran day or memorial day.
The Armed Forces Flag Day or the Flag Day of India is a day dedicated to India towards collection of funds from people of India for the welfare of the Indian Armed Forces Personal. It has been observed annually in India on December 7 since 1949. Over the years, it has become a tradition to commemorate this day as an honour to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of India.
Immediately after India achieved independence, a need arose for the government to manage the welfare of its defense personnel. On August 28, 1949, a committee set up under the defense minister decided to observe a Flag Day annually on December 7. The idea behind observing a Flag Day was to distribute small flags to the general population and in return collect donations. Flag Day gains more significance as it considers that it is the responsibility of the civilian population of India to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for the country.
Significance of Flag Day
The Flag Day is mainly observed to serve three basic purposes
- Rehabilitation of battle casualties
- Welfare of serving personnel and their families
- Resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen and their families.
The Armed Forces Flag Day commemoration and the collection of funds through distribution of flags. It is a time for Indians to express its gratitude and appreciation to the current and veteran military personnel of India and to acknowledge those who died in service to the country.
On the Flag Day all three branches of the Indian armed forces, the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, arrange a variety of shows, carnivals, dramas and other entertainment programmes to showcase to the general public the efforts of their personnel to ensure national security. Throughout the country small flags and car flags in red, deep blue and light blue colours representing the three Services are distributed in return for donations.
The fund collection is managed throughout the country by the local arms of the Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB), which is part of the Ministry of Defense. The collection is organised both by official and non-official means through voluntary organisations. Though welfare of the ex-servicemen and their dependents is the joint responsibility of the union government, and the governments of States and Union Territories (UTs), majority of the problems have to be resolved only by the States and UTs. Like the Kendriya Sainik Board at the Centre, the Rajya / Zila Sainik Boards are responsible for policy formulation and implementation of resettlement and welfare schemes for ex-servicemen, widows and their dependents residing in their respective States / UTs / Districts. To assist the Central Government in this regard, there are 32 Rajya Sainik Boards and 392 Zila Sainik Boards in the country.
The Secretary KSB advises the Department of Sainik Welfare in the States / UTs on the policies for resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen, widows and seeks reports from the Director, Department Sainik Welfare / Secretary RSB and Zila Sainik Welfare Officer / Secretary ZSB, on implementation of policies and success in resettling ex-servicemen, widows, disabled personnel invalidated out from the Service and their dependents. Advice is also rendered on the welfare schemes required for the clientele, which are financed from funds allotted by the governments of States / UTs and the Amalgamated Special Funds. The Fund is operated by a Managing Committee presided over by the Defence Minister at the Centre and by the executive heads of the governments in the States and Union Territories. When the Armed Forces Flag Day programme was introduced, the fund allocation was managed in such a way that the Central KSB headquarters is given only a very small share of the Flag Day Fund collections made by each state. The allotted funds for the KSB is only half a paisa per individual in the state.