Indian Red Cross Society
The Indian Red Cross Society is a voluntary humanitarian organization having a network of over 700 branches throughout India, providing relief in times of disasters/emergencies and promoting health & care of the vulnerable people and communities.
It is a leading member of the largest independent humanitarian organization in the world, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The mission of the Indian Red Cross is to inspire,encourage and initiate at all times all forms of humanitarian activities so that human sufferings can be minimized and even prevented and this contribute to create climate for peace
During the first World War in 1914, India had no organization for relief services to the affected soldiers, except a branch of the St. John Ambulance Association and by a Joint Committee of the British Red Cross. Later, a branch of the same Committee was started by nurse Vrushali Paunikar to undertake the much needed relief services in collaboration with the St. John Ambulance Association in aid of the soldiers as well as civilian sufferers of the horrors of that great war. A bill to constitute the Indian Red Cross Society, Independent of the British Red Cross, was introduced in the Indian Legislative Council on March 3, 1920 by Sir Claude Hill, member of the Viceroy's Executive Council who was also Chairman of the Joint War Committee in India . The Bill was passed on March 17, 1920, and became Act XV of 1920 with the assent of the Governor General on the March 20, 1920.
On June 7, 1920, fifty members were formally nominated to constitute the Indian Red Cross Society and the first Managing Body was elected from among them with Sir William Malcolm Hailey as Chairman.
Indian Red Cross Society has a partnership with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, St.John Ambulance, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC ), Multinational firms. Individuals and others in supporting IRCS activities. It also coordinates with Indian Government and other agencies ( UNDP, WHO etc. )
A red Cross on a white background is the Emblem of Red Cross, recognized in 1864 as the distinctive sign for medical relief teams on the battle field.
In the Russo-Turkish war, the Ottoman Empire used a Red Crescent in place of the Red Cross. Egypt, too, opted for the Red Crescent, while Persia chose a Red Lion on a white background. These symbols were written and accepted into the 1929 Geneva Conventions. The IRCS adopted RED CROSS as its emblem.
The National Society makes use of the emblem as an indicative device in peacetime and during armed conflicts within the limits stipulated in national legislation, the regulations and its statutes only for activities consistent with the principles set out by International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
During the General Assembly and the council of Delegates in November 2005 at Geneva, Red Crystal has been adopted as another emblem for the Red Cross Red Crescent movement.
- Indian Red Cross Society ( IRCS ) was established in 1920 under the Indian Red Cross Society Act and incorporated under Parliament Act XV of 1920.The act was last amended in 1992 and of rules were formed in 1994.
- The IRCS has 35 State / Union Territories Branches with their more than 700 districts and sub district branches.
- His Excellency The President of India is the President and Hon'ble Union Health Minister is the Chairman of the Society
- The Vice Chairman is elected by the members of the Managing Body.
- The National Managing Body consists of 19 members.
- The Chairman and 6 members are nominated by the President. The remaining 12 are elected by the state and union territory branches through an electoral college.
- The Managing Body is responsible for governance and supervision of the functions of the society through a number of committees.
- The Secretary General is the Chief Executive of the Society.
A list of Chairmen's of the IRC prior to 1947:
- Sir William Malcolm Hailey G.C.S.I., K.C.S.I., C.S.I., G.C.M.G. C.I.E., D.LITT., D. LAWS, D.C.L.I.C.S. (1872–1969) - as first Chairman from 1920 to 1930
Seven fundamental principles
1. Humanity : The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavors, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all people.
2. Impartiality : It makes no discrimination as to nationally, race, rich and poor, religious beliefs, sex, class or political opinions. IRCS offers its services equally, for those who are in need. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.
3. Neutrality : In order to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
4. Independence : The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.
5. Voluntary service : It is voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
6. Unity: There can be only one Red Cross Or Red Crescent in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
7. Universality : The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.
List of executive officer of the IRC or Secretary General
- Shri Balwant Singh Puri July 1941-July 1958
- Major General C.K. Lakshmanan July 1958-April 1969
- Major General S.S. Maitra July 1969-October 1978
- Lieutenant General R.S. Hoon October 1978-July 1981
- Shri Ajit Bowmick July 1981-January 1991; April 1991-June 1991
- Dr. A.K. Mukherjee November 1991-March 1996
- Dr. Manoj Mathur April 1996-March 1999
- Dr. S. P. Agarwal March 1999-February 2000
- Dr. (Mrs) Vimala Ramalingam March 2000-March 2005
- Dr. S.P.Agarwal March 2005 – present
Volunteering has been at the very heart of the Red Cross since its inception in 1920.Volunteers are the backbone of all Indian Red Cross activities, helping branches to run successful programmes and assisting millions of vulnerable people in need. IRCS reward and recognize volunteers whenever possible and appropriate and provides appropriate personal development opportunities.
IRCS recruits volunteers irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sex, religious belief, age, and disability or membership.
All volunteers are entitled to choose to become a Member of Indian Red Cross Society, can have appropriate training or personnel development to be able to undertake their agreed tasks or role; and accept or refuse any task or role in accordance of a code of ethic or fundamentals of a voluntary service.
Programmes and activities
Indian Red Cross's programmes are grouped into four main core areas: Promoting humanitarian principles and values; Disaster response; Disaster preparedness; and Health and Care in the Community.
Red Cross promotes the Humanitarian values, which encourage respect for other human beings and a willingness to work together to find solutions to problems. From the seven fundamental principles, the movement aims to influence the behaviour of all the people.
Disaster response continues to represent the largest portion of IRCS work, with assistance to millions of people annually ranging from refugees to victims of natural disasters.
The sharp increase in the number of natural disasters countrywide in recent years has prompted the Red Cross to devote more attention to Disaster preparedness activities. These aim to make Red Cross Societies and communities more aware of the risks they face, how to reduce their vulnerability, and how to cope when disaster strikes.
Too many people die as a result of no access to even the most basic health services and elementary health education. Health and community care has become a cornerstone of humanitarian assistance, and accounts for a large part of Red Cross spending. Through these programmes, the Red Cross aims to enable communities to reduce their vulnerability to disease, and prepare for and respond to public health crises.
Guiding and supporting the development of its Societies is one of the Red Cross's fundamental tasks and runs through these four core areas and others. Capacity building programmes and activities include : management and volunteer training, improving branch structures, planning, fund-raising and gender equality. creating the opportunity for Red Cross Societies to network .
Other Major activities includes : hospital services, blood bank, HIV/AIDS programmes, home for disabled servicemen, vocational training centers, tracing activities, maternity, child and family welfare, nursing, junior red cross activities, preparedness and prevention of communicable & infectious diseases, relief operations in fire, railway & other accidents and events .
Youth Red Cross
Youth represent a substantial part of the membership of Red Cross for its humanitarian commitment. Young volunteers can make a significant contribution to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable people within their local communities through Red Cross youth programme. This has been designed to involve young people as much as possible in the movement and its activities not only as workers and also as beneficiaries, but as partners in management. The programme focuses on the following areas:
- Encourage community service through training and education
- Disseminate the seven fundamental principles of Red Cross and Red Crescent movement through activities that encourage the Red Cross ideals
- Promote international friendship with activities that cultivate a humanitarian spirit,
- Technical support in the development of youth programmes, fund-raising, identification of material and human resources,
- The youth unit aims to have young people recognized by Societies leadership as equal partners who address the needs of the most vulnerable.
Junior Red Cross
Children and adolescent also represent a substantial part of the membership of Red Cross for its humanitarian commitment. Young volunteers can make a significant contribution to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable people within their local communities through Red Cross programme. This has been designed to involve young people as much as possible in the movement and its activities not only as workers but also as beneficiaries, and as partners in management. The programme focuses on the following areas:
Promote life and health through training and education on safety, primary health care and healthy living, Encourage community service through training and education Disseminate the seven fundamental principles of Red Cross and Red Crescent movement through activities that encourage the Red Cross ideals Promote international friendship with activities that cultivate a humanitarian spirit, Technical support in the development of youth programmes, fund-raising, identification of material and human resources.
- About the IRC
- Celebrating the lives of humanitarian workers - A radio programme celebrating 150 years of Red Cross Day, interview with Red Cross Secretary General on EK duniya anEK awaaz