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 personnel. 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 defence personnel.
On August 28, 1949, a committee set up under the defence 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.
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 as well as leaving quite a few disabled. The trauma that the family suffers on demise of the head of the family is hard to fathom. Those of our men who are disabled require care and rehabilitation so that they do not become a burden on their family and can instead lead a life of dignity. Further more, there are Ex- servicemen who suffer from serious diseases such as Cancer, Heart ailments and Joint Replacement etc. and who cannot afford the high cost of treatment. Hence, they too need our care and support.
The requirement of keeping our Armed Forces young necessitates the release of our service personnel at 35-40 years of age when they are still young, physically fit and have qualities of discipline, drive and leadership. Every year about 60000 Defence personnel are compulsorily retired. Caring for these ex-soldiers and their families is therefore a national responsibility.
Many brave and gallant heroes from the Armed forces have laid down their lives in the service of the country. Ongoing counter-insurgency operations have also left many broken homes without a breadwinner. Flag Day 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 the country.
It is for these reasons, we observe the Armed Forces Flag Day. On this day the services rendered by personnel of Army, Navy and Air Force are remembered. It is the collective duty of every citizen of our country to ensure rehabilitation and welfare of the dependents of our brave martyrs and disabled personnel. The Flag Day gives us an opportunity to contribute most generously to the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund.
The Flag Day is mainly observed to serve three basic purposes
It is a time for Indians to express their gratitude and appreciation to the current and veteran military personnel of India and to acknowledge those who died in service to the country.
A concerted effort is made on this day to raise collections from the public. The significance of the Day is brought home through electronic and print media. In some places, Armed Forces formations and units also arrange variety shows, carnivals, dramas and other entertainment programmes.
Armed Forces Flag Day Fund
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 Defence. The fund 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 Centre and the States/UTs, majority of the problems have to be resolved only by the States/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 welfare schemes are funded from Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF) which was instituted vied Gazette of India notification No 5(1) /92/US(WE)/D (Res) dated 13 Apr 1993.
Kendriya Sainik Board administratively controls AFFDF, which is utilised for providing financial assistance to needy Ex-Servicemen, War widows and their Dependents; and the Institutions involved in rehabilitation of the Ex-Servicemen, War widows and their Dependents. The management of the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund rests with the Managing Committee whose Chairman is Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, Vice Chairman is Hon Raksha Rajya Mantri, and members include three Service Chiefs, Defence Secretary, Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare / MoD and the other senior Central Govt officials.
Source : Kendriya Sainik Board