Corporate contributions to the ‘Armed Forces Flag Day Fund’, a corpus used for the welfare of soldiers killed or injured, are virtually nil

Despite big talk about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and glitzy celebrations of national festivals, big business houses in the State contribute next to nothing for the welfare of the kin of martyred and injured soldiers.

Corporate donation to the ‘Special Fund for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Ex-servicemen’ – popularly known as ‘Armed Forces Flag Day Fund’ – is virtually nil.

The fund, which is an umbrella corpus of all related funds – War Bereaved, Kendriya Sainik Board Fund, Flag Day Fund, Indian Gorkha Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare Fund, and War Disabled Fund among others – is used to carry out welfare programmes for the rehabilitation of the families of battle casualties, the welfare of serving personnel and their kin, as also the resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen.

Contributions to the fund are mostly sourced from pay deductions of government employees, and special campaigns on Flag Day, which is usually observed on December 7.

When the Indian economy was cruising in 2008-09, demi-official letters seeking contributions were dispatched to the heads of 700 corporate companies across the State by Brigadier (Retd.) C.S.Vidyasagar, the then Director of the Department of Sainik Welfare (DSW).

“We took details from the industry bodies, and spent Rs.20,000 for the whole exercise. However, all that we received was Rs.1.5 lakh – that too from 10 companies which responded,” Ranga Reddy Sainik Welfare Officer N. Srinesh Kumar told reporters on Wednesday.

Letters to the owners of 116 cinema theatres in the district earned a mere Rs.560. This, despite the Income Tax exemption for such donations. The sum collected from across the State last year stood at a paltry Rs.53 lakh.

Much of that was derived from the compulsory deduction of Rs.20 from the pay of non-gazetted officers and Rs.50 from that of gazetted officers, said DSW Director T. Swarna Kumari.

Flag Day in post-independent India was first observed in 1949, though its origin goes back to the end of World War II, when public contributions were sought to compensate for heavy war casualties. Contributions will be added to the corpus, and interest accruing on the same will be utilised for welfare activities.

The ‘Armed Forces Flag Day’ this year will be observed on December 6, as against the customary December 7. District Collector Mukesh Kumar Meena will inaugurate the campaign in Hyderabad, after which 100 NCC cadets will go around the city selling flags costing Rs.5, and stickers costing Rs.2 each, said Sainik Welfare Officer K. Praveen Kumar. In addition, donation boxes will be placed at schools, colleges and other establishments.

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