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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 18.11.2014

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presided over the Ceremonial Session of the Annual General Meeting of the Indian Red Cross Society and St. John Ambulance (India) at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (November 18, 2014).He also felicitated individuals and institutions at the function for their outstanding efforts to serve the needy, the ill, the helpless, the aged and all others on whom they have bestowed their kindness and care.

Speaking on the occasion, the President congratulated the Indian Red Cross Society and the St. John Ambulance (India) for their selfless service and their humanitarian work in all parts of Indian society. He stated that the Indian Red Cross Society and the St. John Ambulance (India) are considered the pioneers and role models for voluntary workers and non-governmental organisations in India today.

The President said that in most advanced societies, Governments as well as non-governmental organisations have taken the necessary steps to prepare, to the extent possible, for the kind of unforeseeable eventualities that we call disasters. In recent years, India, too, has learned from its experiences and taken similar measures. Thus, while the 1999 super-cyclone caused 10,000 deaths in Odisha, thanks to the pre-emptive arrangements made by Government, the negative impact of the last two cyclones in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, resulted in very few casualties. We could manage to provide safety and security to maximum number of livestock, people and property located in the path of the approaching storms. Our success in doing this demonstrates the significant improvement in our technology, capacity and capability to pre-empt and thus mitigate the devastating effect of natural disasters on our territory. The President stated that India’s achievement has been recognized internationally as a triumph of early warning and timely action.However, we are aware that more needs to be done; more vulnerable people need to be empowered; they need to have a greater ability to secure and protect themselves. More communities need to be free from the risks of disease and the dangerous forces of nature. To achieve that, joint efforts of state institutions and civil society will be required. The President said that with additional volunteers and skill development – as well as stock-piling of essential relief materials and disaster risk reduction work Government, voluntary service societies and local communities can assist vulnerable populations with ever greater swiftness and efficiency.

This release issued at 1520 hrs