By Nirbhay K
There are plenty of proud moments in the Indian history. It has won independence through non-violence methods. Given its size, geo-strategic location and potential to grow as a super power economy, India has to protect itself from cross border attacks, terrorism and infiltration. It is one of the largest military forces in the world. It has never attacked any country nor occupied any foreign land forcibly. It should be noted that Indian military’s role is not limited to protecting the borders.
The forces are very much active and supportive in every other adversity be it disaster, floods, earthquakes, cyclones or rescue operations. Indian soldiers also travel across the regions of the world to maintain peace and order. It is reported that that there are about 25,000 military personnel have been martyred in fighting to save the country. It is a supreme sacrifice for the nation but it is also a disaster in the lives of soldier’s family and dependents.
The objective of the article is to explore various avenues to support and honor the supreme sacrifice made by the armed forces and their families to the country. Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 item number (vi) encourages companies to support such initiatives by stating, “measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents”. However, the article in no way glorifies or endorses or supports war for any reason.
It is important to note that armed forces veterans have given their golden years in the service of the nation. They deserved to be taken care well by their countrymen in the post retirement stage of the life.
There are three things that a company could undertake appropriate actions under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to show their gratitude towards armed force veterans. First and foremost of them is skill development initiatives to mainstream them into civilian life. It gives them confidence to step-up, survive and strive in the competitive workforce. The second initiative is to hire and train them for regular job roles. It also means preferential treatment in recruitment and training.
The third activity is to recognize and reward them for their services. It could be onetime effort to reward or build recurring platform to appreciate their efforts during special days such as Republic day, Independence day, Kargil Vijay Diwas, Army or Navy or Air Force Day. The company could chose to decide the mode of reward either cash or kind based on the CSR Board approval.
The family, especially wife, is under tremendous stress in the event of a soldier laying-down life for the country. She ceases to have a support system and regular income for the family. It also impacts adversely on children and their education. The Times of India on July 26, 2014 reported that, “It is said no country has as many war widows – estimated at 25,000 – as India. There may not be another nation-state that has lost more men fighting the enemy within than aggressors from across the borders.
A company eligible under CSR can take up three initiatives ensure that the war widow continues to have normal life and children are taken care. First, companies could decide to fund and support War Widows Association to continue their efforts in ensuring that widows and their families are able to access all their entitlements, pension and other benefits. These efforts include counseling of widows, represent war widows at events organized in remembrance of their sacrifices, build relationships with ex-servicemen organizations and other organization working for widows, work with various government departments to ensure rehabilitation and resettlement of the family and raise funds for widows and families in need of additional support.
Military dependents are the spouse, children and other familial relationship of an armed personnel that continue to enjoy special benefits, privileges and rights. The most impacted in dependents are aged parents, children with disability and special needs. It would be yeoman’s service to the humanity in case companies sponsor their living expenses, healthcare and support for their survival. There are multiple military wives association already in place that work for the welfare of the spouses, children and dependents of the. The companies could extend their CSR initiatives with generous grants and financial assistance to the Air Force, Army and Naval Wives Welfare Associations.
It is right time to stand, support and salute the armed personnel, war heroes and their families. Soldiers are awake so that the country sleep in peace. Their sacrifices should not go unnoticed. The CSR Act 2013 gives a golden opportunity to the companies in India to raise to the occasion and support welfare of armed forced personnel and their families.
About the Author
Nirbhay K is a CSR professional and an IIT alumnus. Author can be reached @NirbhayK2.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely of the author in personal capacity and do not in any way represent views of any institution, entity or organization that the author may have been associated with.