Team Samarpana: Present and Future
Samarpana is an initiative by the students of PES University for the welfare of war widows and their families. We have worked over the last two years to engage with such families from across Karnataka, to discover their problems and issues, to try and bring these issues to the notice of relevant people and organizations and to inculcate a feeling of patriotism, by way of respect for the institution of the state and a sense of duty towards fellow citizens, among the younger generation.
In 2009, and then continuously since 2012, we have invited around 15 families every year to be with us at the PESU campus to engage with students and management, who have contributed monetarily as well as pledged for help in kind. Since 2013, we have focused on rural NCO and JCO families, arranging for them a free medical camp, information on the ECHS scheme, a seminar on their rights and entitlements, empowerment and entrepreneurship workshops, and have felicitated them as an expression of gratitude and enabled interaction between them and students.
In 2014, we have invited 15 families from the Belgaum region of Karnataka. PES University will host them on campus for the event on the 11th and 12th of March, and a tour of Bangalore City has been arranged for them on the 13th March following which they will return to their homes. They will be felicitated in a grand ceremony at 11am on the 11th following which our team and outside experts will be working with them to empower them through self-help workshops, address specific issues related to non-availability of ECHS, Canteen Cards and pensions. We are also organizing a display of arms for the benefit of students on campus.
As a part of our awareness campaign on the armed forces, we have organized recruitment talks from the army, an exhibition of armed forces technology, a student visit to the HQ of the Para-commando training centre, seminars by Kargil veterans Maj. (Retd) Ashok Sharma and Capt. (Retd) Akhilesh Saxena. The Samarpana Run held on 23rd March 2014 saw over 400 soldiers from across Bangalore join in with over 1500 participants for a 10K Run, as an opportunity to interact and foster a sense of fraternity between them and civilians. We also organized the Shukriya campaign in September 2013, getting students and citizens from across Bangalore to write letters and record videos personally thanking the Armed Forces for their efforts and sacrifices, which we delivered in person to the GoC at the HQ at Baramulla in J&K.
We have had ties with and support from various institutions and individuals in our efforts. We have received extensive cooperation from the Sainik Welfare Office (SWO), and the Bangalore sub-command as well as local regiment centres, especially the ASC, MEG and Para’s. Apart from PESU itself, Prestige Group, JSW Steel, IndiaBulls Real Estate, Fortis Hospitals and Gopalan Malls have all been sponsors and partners with us in our various campaigns.
At this juncture, Samarpana has tremendous potential to make a significant and measurable difference to the families of those who have lost their loved ones in service to the nation. We are working towards the creation of a formal framework, to be able to carry forward our work on several fronts, such as:
• Providing accurate and relevant information to war widows regarding their entitlements and compensations, getting them in touch with relevant authorities, and, where necessary, following up with necessary paperwork.
• Collaborating with SWOs on being able to register as many families as possible, making an effort to reduce the number of families that are not officially recognized either due to oversight or lack of adequate documentation.
• Raising funds to help families, who have lost their loved ones in combat, but due to policy loopholes or technicalities, are not entitled to adequate compensations, or to financial help in specific instances, such as medical treatment at non-ECHS hospitals in case of emergencies.
• Advising widows on the utilization their funds and grants in the most appropriate manner.
• Empowering them to be able to cope with their loss and deal with the society around them.
• Providing them microfinance opportunities to help them achieve financial independence.
• Mentorship programmes for children of rural and/or impoverished families, being able to advise them on issue on which they have few or no other sources of advice, such as education.
These families have sacrificed much for the well-being of the society of which both we and they are a part of, and as a part of that society, we endeavor to be able to convey our gratitude for their sacrifice and give something back to those that have given so much for us.