How often does it happen that we are deeply moved by the martyrdom of a brave soldier and want to show support and solidarity to his distraught family in a meaningful way? How many of us can actually follow up on our feelings and do something about it? Most people will answer in the negative. Well, here is an opportunity for you, as a concerned citizen, to engage with an organisation that is dedicated to fostering a spirit of patriotism and ensuring “that the families of martyrs do not endure alone.”
Flags of Honour Foundation (FOHF), a not-for-profit organisation started by Rajeev Chandrashekar, entrepreneur and Member of Parliament (MP), aspires to act as a bridge for civil society to “engage with, recognise and support the Armed Forces and inspire the younger generation through stories of valour and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform.”
FOHF was registered as a charitable trust a little after the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 when Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan sacrificed his life to save people. Mr Chandrashekar presented a cheque of Rs25 lakh to Major Unnikrishnan’s family. Soon thereafter, he decided to put a formal face to the effort to support the families of martyrs and registered FOHF as a charitable trust in July 2009. The Foundation provides financial assistance and grants to martyrs’ families by reaching out to them and understanding their needs. For instance, FOHF offered financial assistance to the widow of martyr Havaldar Channalli (who died in Kashmir). For Param Vir Chakra awardee, CQMH Abdul Hamid, FOHF undertook restoration of his dilapidated memorial and also gave a grant to his widow, Rasulan Bibi, to renovate her house.
FOHF works closely with the armed forces to identify families of brave-hearts across the country. Its team of volunteers conducts programmes to commemorate our soldiers and spread the message of their service and sacrifice to the citizens to keep their memories alive.
Shivani Sharma Dasmahapatra, programme director, FOHF says, “No one can bring back what they have lost, but for us it is of foremost importance to be there for their families and let them know that they are not alone.” She points out that the nation comes together to express grief when a brave-heart lays down his life for the nation; but public memory is short and everything is soon forgotten.
FOHF’s stated objectives include: advocacy about the concerns of the armed forces and veterans; providing assistance to families of martyrs and veterans with special emphasis on helping war widows and ensure permanent housing for martyrs’ families; work at sustainable programmes and partnerships to ensure rehabilitation, employment, education, health and financial stability of families of martyrs; educate and inculcate values of service and honour among people and instil patriotism and responsible citizenship among the youth. While the organisation is based in Bengaluru, it hopes to have a pan-India presence.
Some important advocacy campaigns taken up by FOHF were to support the one-rank-one-pension agitation by veterans, voting rights of armed forces soldiers who are away from home and helping Dr NK Kalia to petition the United Nations Human Rights Commission seeking independent investigations on the torture and death of Capt Saurabh Kalia and five jawans in the Kargil War in 1999. The voting rights campaign registered a significant victory, in March 2014, when the Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission to facilitate voting by armed forces and their families posted in peace zones; but the battle for voting rights to those posted in field areas continues.
You can join the effort by volunteering with FOHF or by donating to the cause. Donations are tax-exempt under Section 80-G of the Income-tax Act.
Flags of Honour Foundation
54, Richmond Road,
Bengaluru - 560025
Telephone: 080 - 4093 3141
Fax: 080 - 2532 3488