Annually, on December 7, India observes Armed Forces Flag Day as a tribute to martyrs, veterans, and current defence personnel. Since 1949, this day has been commemorated to honour the Army, Navy, and Air Force, with fundraising efforts aimed at supporting their well-being and that of their families.
Apart from acknowledging the armed forces’ services, the day encourages citizens to show support by purchasing flags, coupons, and cards, contributing to the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF). Instituted in 1949, this day focuses on remembering servicemen’s valour and collecting welfare funds to aid ex-servicemen in need and support martyrs’ widows and dependents.
Following India’s independence, a committee was formed on August 28, 1949, which decided to celebrate Flag Day annually on December 7. Small flags were distributed to the public to collect welfare funds and foster a sense of unity between the Army and citizens, evolving into a longstanding tradition.
The day serves as a reminder to care for living heroes wounded in action or retired early. Approximately 60,000 defence personnel are compulsorily retired each year to maintain a young, physically fit, and disciplined force.
Armed Forces Flag Day emphasizes citizens’ responsibility to support disabled servicemen, widows, and dependents of martyrs. People are urged to contribute generously to the AFFDF on this day. The Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB) distributes token flags and car stickers denoting the three Services, and various Armed Forces formations conduct charity programs. The AFFDF, administered by the KSB, operates through a managing committee led by the defence minister.
HISTORY OF ARMED FORCES FLAG DAY
Immediately following India’s independence, there was a necessity to provide assistance and boost the well-being of defence personnel. On August 28, 1949, a committee was established under India’s then Defence Minister, deciding to commemorate Flag Day every December 7.
In 1993, India’s Defence Ministry consolidated various welfare funds, including those for war victims and the Kendriya Sainik Board Fund, into a unified entity known as the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund (AFFDF).
The concept behind observing this day was to distribute small flags to individuals and gather donations from them.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS DAY
The observance of Armed Forces Flag Day serves as an opportunity for people to express their gratitude for the sacrifices made by the Indian Armed Forces personnel. Various shows, carnivals, dramas, and entertainment programs are organized on this day to engage the public and encourage donations.
Additionally, token flags and car stickers in red, deep blue, and light colours, symbolizing the three services, are distributed nationwide. The funds collected are directed towards offering financial assistance to serving personnel, ex-servicemen, war widows, their dependents, and institutions dedicated to the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen.
Citizens actively participate by selling coupon flags, stickers, and other items throughout the country, contributing funds to enhance the well-being of the armed forces. The soldiers, sailors, and airmen risk their lives to ensure our safety, and it is crucial for us to play our part in expressing gratitude. On this day, people honour the martyrs and contribute to the welfare and support of the men in the army, navy, and air force of the country.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE ARMED FORCES FLAG DAY FUND
The administration of the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund is overseen by the Kendriya Sainik Board, a premier body of the Indian government. A managing committee, chaired by the Defence Minister of India, governs the fund, with members comprising the three Service chiefs, Defence Secretary, Secretary, and other high-ranking officials of the Government of India.
Contributions to the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund are welcomed throughout the year. Individuals desiring to make donations to the fund can visit the website https://affdf.gov.in.