The Union Health Minister and Chairman of Indian Red Cross Society and St John Ambulance (India), Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad today presided over the General Body meeting of the two organizations on behalf of the President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Over 350 members of the General Body including Governors of the States of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and UT Andaman and Nicobar Islands attended today’s meeting.
Addressing the gathering Shri Azad said that he is happy to note the increased role and recognition of Indian Red Cross. The Society now has the latest communication tools, including emergency response units, mobile disaster units and medical disaster units to initiate assessment and relief in times of calamity. There are six warehouses located in strategic locations in the country where these equipments and relief items are stored. Shri Azad recalled the IRCS’s response mechanism efforts during the Leh cloud burst in August, 2010. He also noted that it is a matter of satisfaction that the IRCS is contributing 10% of total blood collection in the country through its 118 Blood Banks.
Sh Azad informed the General Body members that due to persistent efforts, we have been able to obtain tax exemption for the income of the society on a perpetual basis under the Income Tax Act. Also a Bill has been passed in Parliament which will cover organizations like the Indian Red Cross under section 10(46) of the Income Tax Act and inter alia would enable Indian Red Cross to spend funds outside India to help vulnerable people. The necessary notification to this effect would be issued by the Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India shortly, the Minister informed. Shri Azad added that after 15 years of deliberations and consultations among state branches and other stakeholders, uniform rules for the state and district branches were approved by the President of IRCS, Her Excellency the President of Republic of India. These uniform rules were circulated to all the state and UT branches. He urged the States to take necessary steps for implementation of these rules. The Minister also said that now the emphasis should be to include latest training modules so that First-Aid providers are better informed and equipped. He noted with satisfaction that the common First Aid Manual for St. John and Red Cross has been upgraded.
The Red Cross and St John Awards since year 2004 were also presented on the occasion by Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad to awardees from various regional and State branches in recognition of the devoted service to the humanitarian cause of the Red Cross as also fund raising and membership drive and blood donation efforts. At today’s meeting, the General Body also adopted the Annual Reports and audited accounts of Indian Red Cross Society and St John Ambulance (India), since the year 2004-05 till 2009-10.