Young Swiss businessman, Jean Henry Dunant was appalled by the condition of the wounded soldiers he happened to see in the battle field of Solferino , Italy in 1859 during the Franco - Austrian war. He arranged relief services with the help of the local community immediately. He wrote the book 'Memory of Solferino' suggesting that a neutral organization be established to aid the wounded soldiers in times of war.
Just a year after the release of this book, an international conference was convened in Geneva to consider the suggestions of Henry Dunant and thus the Red Cross Movement was born. International Red Cross Movement was established by Geneva Convention of 1864. The name and the emblem of the movement are derived from the reversal of the Swiss national flag, to honor the country in which Red Cross was found.
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 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 3rd March 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 17th March 1920 and became Act XV of 1920 with the assent of the Governor General on the 20th March 1920.
On 7th June 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 Malcolm Hailey as Chairman. Indian Red Cross Society is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Relations between the IRCS and the Indian Delegation of the Federation are strong.
Indian Red Cross Society has 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) Bengal State Branch same into existence by the enactment of the Indian Red Cross Society (Bengal Branch) Act, 1920(Bengal Act VIII of 1920).
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield. In its international and national capacity, it endeavors to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found around the world. Its main object 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 in the world.
The Movement makes no discrimination among different nationalities, races, religious beliefs or political opinions. It endeavors to give relief the individuals in their suffering and gives priority in the most urgent cases of distress.
The Movement maintains absolute neutrality to enjoy confidence of all and does not involve itself in any controversy of political, racial and religious or ideological nature. It does not take any side in the case of hostilities.
The Movement is independent and the National Societies always try to maintain their autonomy so that they may be able to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement at all times, while their auxiliaries participate in the humanitarian services of their governments, subject to the laws of their respective countries.
The Movement is completely voluntary in nature and the relief services provided are not guided by any desire for gain.
There can be only one Red Cross or Red Crescent society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
In the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, all societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other throughout the world.