AWWA RTI issue raises more questions

…and strengthens the case for reforming the Indian armed forces.

First it was the Army Welfare Housing Organisation [AWHO], which the army conveniently declared as a private body outside the ambit of the RTI. The next in line was Army Welfare Education Society [AWES], which met the same fate. Now comes the real big one — Army Wives Welfare Association [AWWA], which has got the army tied in knots trying to avoid answering genuine questions being raised by an ex-officer through the RTI act.

In the RTI application, Chaudhary had sought information from Western Command about the legal status of AWWA, source of funding, organizational structure, number of officers and other ranks attached with it, reason for giving office space in the high security zones of western command headquarters, grants given to widows and orphaned children of Army in the last five years and the AWWA president using Army aircraft and Army vehicles.

…Offices of AWWA are scattered across Army cantonments in India and its headquarters is in South Block, Delhi like the Army headquarters. It is, on the face of it, a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

Giving a new twist to the ongoing debate over functioning and funding of AWWA, the Army has in a five-page reply, filed on behalf of the chief of staff, Western Command, said it has nothing to do with funds for the association either.

The reply, a copy of which is with TOI, is to be submitted before the CIC next Monday (November 24). It comes over a year after the Army declined to provide information on where money for AWWA came from, taking recourse in the plea that as the body was not funded by the government it did not fall under the RTI purview.

“As regards funding, we reiterate with all emphasis that Western Command (or Army) does not fund AWWA in any manner,” states the reply even as documents procured by TOI on Wednesday revealed that AWWA was funded by a total of 18 HQ brigades in 2004 and by 16 HQ brigades and divisions in 2007.

Record reveals that all AWWA offices are run with the financial assistance from various units. Even the officer in-charge of the schools run by AWWA are serving Army officers of the rank of Lt. Col. An interestingly point: If the Army doesn’t pump in money for AWWA, it’s a miracle who runs the sprawling network as there is no subscription fee for membership.

Moreover, all vehicles used by AWWA in their day-to-day functioning belong to the Army and the wives’ association even finds a mention in the Army’s official website.[TOI]

A cursory look at the Contact Us page of the AWWA website gives away the story of it being officially unrelated to the army. It has a Colonel as a Staff Officer to the President AWWA at Delhi, an office in the South Block, two army telephone numbers and two government paid civil numbers listed on the webpage itself. An official publication of the Indian Army — Baat-Cheet magazine, issued by the ADGPI — devotes a full page to the activities of AWWA every month. They have also been holding AWWA awards function at Delhi (on lines of the investiture ceremony for their husbands). These functions are covered by official press releases issued by the Army Headquarters. A similar story would perhaps be true for the sister bodies in the IAF and IN — AFWWA and NWWA.

More serious questions about use of service aircrafts and helicopters by wives of senior officers have been raised by the CAG. [Update -- CAG had pointed out an unauthorised expenditure of Rs 75 crore by spouses of Air force and Army chiefs who are presidents of AWWA and AFWWA. The CAG report also indicted the Army for irregularities in hiring of light vehicles and their misuse for AWWA.] The services have used the alibi of these ladies being AWWA functionaries to fudge the issue, and these observations have not been resolved yet. Perhaps there are families of soldiers staying inside bunkers at far-off places in the North East and on the LoC, that only the wives of senior officers are aware of.

One of the justifications put forth by many service officers is that AWWA is an exemplary NGO and is doing yeoman service to the wives and families of soldiers. Let us take that argument to its logical conclusion. Would the services give similar facilities to any other NGO who were to work for the families of soldiers? More importantly, if AWWA is a professional NGO, then let the organisation be run professionally. There should be no honorary appointments — merely by virtue of being the wife of a senior officer — but professionals, MBAs and CAs should be hired to run the venture. There should be a transparency of accounts [income and expenditure statements] and an annual detailed report submitted to a nominated Board of Governors.

[Update -- AWWA got the initial corpus from the Ministry of Defence and is funded from different heads like canteen profits and various grants of the Ministry of Defence earmarked for the welfare of defence personnel. Thus it falls under the definition of Public Authority, as provided under Section 2h(d) of the RTI Act, which includes an NGO substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the government.]

Most interestingly, the army has got so ruffled by the RTI plea that it has actually requested the applicant to withdraw the RTI appeal. It begs only one question — why? Perhaps there is something to hide, seems to be the most obvious answer. Or the whispers in the corridors, that suggest a more powerful parallel hierarchy being run by the wives of senior officers in the defence services, might have an element of truth in them.

In fact, the Army has gone on to plead with Major (retd) Guneet Chaudhary to withdraw the petition since “he too has donned the Olive Green and he is well aware of the yeoman’s service done by AWWA for jawans. We leave it to his wisdom and discretion whether he should continue to insist on or persist with the issue which was closer to his heart at one point of time and in any case is a non-issue when it comes to questioning it. He may seek to withdraw his appeal and put a full stop on the issue”.

This exemplifies the state of denial and the prevailing feudal culture in the Indian defence services. Honesty and transparency be damned. The army brass will brook no uncomfortable questions, especially if they reveal the illegal activities of their wives. If this is the treatment meted out to a retired officer, imagine the victimisation a serving officer would have to undergo for raising similar questions. This blogger had earlier spoken about this approach of the services –

What are the questions that the military top brass encourages to raise or to suppress? The questions that the average soldier asks reveal best about the character and culture of the military.

It needs political will on the part of the government to initiate a reform and restructuring process for the Indian armed forces. The debate over the SCPC has already raised many other issues about the status and role of the defence services. In the absence of an honest introspection by the military brass, a holistic review is the only solution. This blogger has christened the starting point of this process as the Indian Blue Ribbon Commission. The name of the instrument may well be different, but the need for reforming and restructuring the defence services has never been greater or more urgent.


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58 Responses to AWWA RTI issue raises more questions

  1. ANSHUJ November 22, 2008 at 10:06 am #

    This is Phase II of the offensive,where important institutions of the forces will be targeted and demolished.
    You guys are drafting the obituary of Indian Armed Forces.

  2. Raja November 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm #


    Let me take the other side of the ring on this one.
    AWWA activities are literally a pain in the peace stations.
    If the work were merely that of an NGO, then there would be no place for offices, staff officers, pomp and show.
    The spirit of service is most conspicuous in its lack.

    AWWA activities mostly have hugely lavish preambles ( high class parties) and equally hugely lavish finales ( more parties).These ‘parties’ give the likes of me the veritable ‘heebie-jeebies’. The events involve stockading all the wives into an auditorium, mainly for an ego massage of the President.There are month long rehearsals for dances and songs – precious time is wasted in all this. And while all this is to be done by the wives, there remain the background artists at beck and call – the entire fauji infrastructure, so to speak.

    Today’s socio-economic situation is vastly different from earlier times. The wives of the jawans are invariably better educated than the jawans themselves. Ditto the officers’ wives. Many wives work. Aspirations keep evolving and are ever increasing. In this mileu, organising dance shows, chaat eating soirees and knitting classes actually have no takers.

    Truly, it is time to make the AWWA more relevant for our times; more professional, with more substance than mere fluff.

  3. IndianACE November 22, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    Legally speaking, all of us who have partook in the AWWA activities are criminal pilferers of government property and the hard earned money of the great Indian Tax payer. Before the law of the land we stand in the same league as Telgi, Quattrocchi and the like.

    Don’t Stop. It is an extended night of the long knives.

    et tu Major (retd) Guneet Chaudhary (sic)!!


    Ladies and officers of the armed forces and jawans too, spend a lot of their time on these AWWA activities which extends deep into their private time. The officers and ladies believe it (For example- ASHA Schools) is for a overall noble cause and they do not expect any renumeration for their toil. Similarly, many of us have, some time or other, used our private vehicles, telephones and even some money for the activities.

    Do you know of any specific case where the army has abdicated its responsibility (internal/ external) due to the AWWA activities?

    Do you mean to say that a professional NGO will be able to carry out all the activities of AWWA across the country for a lesser amount (Including the expenditure on the travel for AWWA activities)?

    There is much wrong in the forces but please focus on the grain.

    For service friends- good that we have started questioning issues.
    Like they say- laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and the world laughs at you.

  4. PS November 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    Damn the AWWA to hell.
    Trash the bloody women.

  5. ANSHUJ November 22, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    I am with you,but do we need someone like Pragmatic to tell us what ails the system.
    Why can’t we ourselves put the house in order?

  6. Pragmatic November 22, 2008 at 3:15 pm #

    @IndianACE/ Raja:

    This blogpost is not merely about AWWA and neither was the last one about LMC and HC case. Or the earlier ones about Malegaon- Purohit & CSD liquor & so on. There is a constant thread running through all these stories — pointing to where the real rot is that needs to be set right. If we focus on nitpicking the merits or arguments of each incident, then we miss out on the larger significance of these events.

    Services-bashing is very easy for any blogger. One can have posts about Lt General Sahni and Dahiya and 17 other Brigadiers and above who have been courtmartialled in last six years for corruption charges. Or about officers serving sentences in Tihar jail for rape, murder and espionage.

    But that is not the point that this blog is making. The intent is to break the status-quoist mindset and seek reform — for betterment of the services and this nation.

    IndianACE, if everything is so good, noble and right about the AWWA, then why this hesitation in answering the questions raised in the RTI?

  7. PS November 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm #


    You guys are drafting the obituary of Indian Armed Forces.

    ..about colonial memsahibs, sahibs, HR cuffs and
    in / out arbitrary stuff, liberal vs cloister education,
    Santushti, May Queens (also princes – Lucknow
    Command function recently), Media frenzies
    / spats, ‘PBOR’ type military bad caste designations,
    Batties, should we delete Somalia, Afghanistan or
    Katanga first and so on not obit threat pl..

    From The Book: ‘Uniformly Crazy’ by Ashok Mahajan
    Subtitle ‘Satanic Verses on The Indian Army’
    ISBN 81-7167-143-8 pub 1993 by Rupa, New Delhi

    Verse I

    At the Family Welfare Meet
    Come soldier-wives in sweltering heat;
    They’ll be sitting, sitting, sitting
    At embroidery and knitting
    For the sake of CO’s daughter, Simranjeet.

    And neither, tea, namkeen nor sweet
    Can turn their torture to a treat;
    They’ve been made to work apace
    At sewing, tatting, lace
    So trousseau of the Missie is complete.

    Verse II [ titled ‘Termagents’ ]

    There was a Brigadier called Mago
    Whose spouse was a real virago;
    All the junior wives
    Simply ran for their lives
    At brigade functions screaming, ‘bhago, bhago

  8. Pragmatic November 22, 2008 at 5:18 pm #

    @PS #7:

    Touché! What satire, Sir. LOL :-)

    It is time you scanned Mahajan’s book and put it on Scribd or something. These teasers are too much to handle. “Uniformly Crazy” seems to be a classic.

  9. Ramani November 22, 2008 at 7:53 pm #

    Are we trying to open the pandora’s box.Nothing good will come of it.
    Better let sleeping dogs lie.Unless the dogs in question start biting.

  10. Major Rajan November 22, 2008 at 10:26 pm #

    Let’s face it…this time the critics have a point.

  11. IndianACE November 22, 2008 at 11:15 pm #

    Sir, I conceded in my earlier post that there is much wrong in the forces. In fact, our friend K_Ram’s classic commentary on the senior officers is the wall paper on my PC.

    As I had commented in my earlier avatar, that our izzat in front of our troops has been nurtured with great toil, blood and dedication and it will be impossible to recreate it, God forbid, if needed in short to medium term.

    Be careful, Just don’t throw the baby with the bathtub.

    “Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I ha lost my reputation, I ha lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial!”
    - William Shakespeare

    I hope we realise an aspiring nation does not deserve a bestial army.

  12. voyager November 22, 2008 at 11:54 pm #

    I agree, we do need to make the functioning more transparent.

  13. subodh November 23, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    Dear friends,
    These AWWA/NWWA/AFWWA need to be audited fully.EVen if they are doing so called yeoman services I am very sure their efficiencyIntake -output ration will not be better than a sick PSU.At best their output is 20%.
    In my 18 .5 yrs of service serving in all three forces I am not convinced that they are an efficient organisation.
    I used to say openly that NWWA is (Non Working Wive’s Association).
    My wife attende AWWA exactly once in 5 years when the soldiers wives were called for coffee evening.They were servedtea in disposable cups and the officers wives got it in Bone china.WHen My wife tried to raise objection she was told that they have to maintain difference between soldiers and Officers.The soldiers wives were ucomfortable leaving their kids at home(they dont have maids to look after the kids).
    During the crash @ Goa ,The CNS’s wife also travelled in Service aircraft.When I asked her locus standi I was told that she is president NWWA.So I asked the rule under which she was entitled.I was given vague answers(Since I had put up case in High Court No body dared to reprimand me)
    That CNS’s Wife had no courtsey to sit with the widows on floor.Through out she was sitting on chair and no courtsey even to comfort the ladies by putting her hand on their back or head.(She was maintaining the highest rajput tradition).
    I really appreciate Major Guneet Chaudhary for putting up a RTI query.
    Hope they have a proper audit and if found inefficient they should close down these WWA’s.At best they provide gainful employment to senior officer’s wives.

  14. subodh November 23, 2008 at 12:06 am #

    @ Anshuj
    If you are COAS you can put the house in order but by then you are the beneficiary and you dare not close avenues for your own wife.SO where are we.
    Please remember wife isone rank senior so even if you are General your wife is field marshal so no arguments.

  15. havaidoc November 23, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    i coudn’t agree with you more yes these so called semi official corridoors of power which are there running alongside the armed forces are a drain on resources and energy of serving men and officers similar venture can be run by govt support and are authorized too but these have come to stay and will no matter how much noise any one makes any were

  16. Inderjit Kashyap November 23, 2008 at 10:58 am #

    All the negatives pointed out would indeed have merit as each writer, officer or otherwise is mature & wise enough to review an organisation correctly!!1 However, all I ask of all the critics, do AWWA/NWWA/AFWWA, just do not do any good work, haven’t read even a single good word.
    Search Ur souls & then write these good words, Ur criticism will then be appreciated much better as then it will be SWOT analysis. I firmly believe that every organisation has 2 sides to it, so lets shower these with boquets & brickbats at the same time.
    Also, the knowalls would definitely should be knowing that all accounts in the Services, including Regimental, AWWA’s accounts are in this category, are regularly audited so to presume that these are not, would be a display of lack of knowledge.
    Further, extension of organisational support to Regimental or quasi formal functions, is there in every office of the Govt, Central or State, as it covers facets of welfare of the organisation at large, so why are the critics of AWWA or other Regimental Organistaions of the Services, targetting these only & not others. In a Distt, the DM goes to distribute funds or prizes
    for an official/ unofficial cause, the organisation of these functios are funded by a local businessman/trader/ hotelier/resturant owner, no one questions these. The “welfare” of the public is as important as the “welfare” of the Services’ personnel. The methodology has undergone changes over a period of time but overall the beneficiries have been the widows & their wards, who are left to fend for themselves as also many a soldiers wife.
    One could argue further, but do a SWOT analysis, then one would know that the critic has the knowledge of both sides of the coin & not only has the aim to belittle the work of others who are doing something for a cause. The deliberations would then be meaningful & constructive which should be the aim of all citizens of this country.

  17. IndianACE November 23, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    @ Kashyap, thank you, sir.

    I almost started thinking that we and our families have for so long been made suckers for some ulterior motive by the top brass and their wives.

    We have had long discussions over peripheral issues such as Malegaon, AWWA, Sahayaks et al, however central to our problem is the cult of sycophancy. We were not born flatterers and never was it implied in our training at NDA and later, that this is the way to go. However, due to the pyramid, most of us, some sooner than others, get to understand that this is the only way.

    In the Army it is often said that if you take a stand you shall keep standing. This makes the upcoming officer to bend the Chatwode motto because the motto talks of the Country, of the men under you and lastly, of your own self. Chatwode is completely silent about where to place the men above you, ie the senior officers and their wives.

    I understand that a lot of response is coming from retired officers who feel that they have been wronged while in service and I am sure that all the grudges are genuine. I myself am a sufferer of the adhocism, nepotism and callousness of the senior officers and their unrepentant staff and gracelessness of their wives and have a career which is going nowhere. But I still have fond memories of the last 20 years with the troops under me. They are the real army.

    I am hopeful that the bloggers have the Indian National Interest at the core of their deliberations. However, the reform has to come from inside and systematically, otherwise the great institution will be eternally crippled by the schemisms of vested parties.

    I pray that the top brass is aware of this blog and the discussions herein. And if you are, Sirs, please tell us so, through some media, maybe secure to the army, so that we can look the other bloggers in the eye. Ignore it not, please.

    And yes, pl give the RTI information.

  18. kkmlhotra November 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    I agree with Inderjit Kashyap
    Such welfare organisations have come up with all govt, private&public institutions.are’nt NGOs encoraged &created by all concerened.many of them handle sizeable amount of resources without adequate scrutiny or lack of accooutability inachieving their declared objectives (or even sedious activites in diguise). Services seem to have become a very fashoinable object of bashing &highlighting very insignificant short comings that every human activity isafflictedwith dueto vanity ,selfishness& bloated ego of a few.
    i dont see any of the regimental welfare organistions seriously diverting armed forces energies which adversely affects their op efficiency or give rise to serious disgruntlement amongst troops save a minority of bellyaching members who are unable to fit into a happy team or cotribute substancially towards professionalism
    Such welfare activites give rise to camradrie ,sense of belonging &genuine improvmemnt in quality of community life through the efforts of many positive & imaginative members.let’s forget about compusive criticesers of everything def forces.

    Def est should not be apologetic about these activties be absolutely transparent when questioned

  19. voyager November 23, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    If you read the TOI today, Shobha De in her column “Politically Incorrect” talks of how the country has been riveted by the so called reality show “Big Boss”.

    She writes…”Perhaps people watch such shows to feel better about themselves…It makes one feel superior…instantly better about oneself. “Look at those idiots…God! What a bunch of jerks.” But the real jerks and losers are us (ie the viewers/voyeurs).”

    In a nation (even the world) where one insitution after another has crumbled…most to the extent where misdeeds and malpractices have become an accepted norm – is it suprising that a hungry nation of voyeurs hunts down the few leftover institutions that are still not completely covered in filth? The way the world is today, I think even our Gods and Mahatmas would have been “exposed” till they became bumbling mortals whom we could then ridicule as one of us. That’s truly democratic!

    The above is not in defence of what AWWA is today. The Armed Forces must learn to become more accountable and answerable as the voyeurs seek to illuminate the dirty corners in their backyard and showcase them on prime time. It is healthy that the Armed Forces are their own worst critics internally (the RTI query has come from one of its own fraternity) but not in the context of the game above.

    That’s the plot then. Maybe nobody wins the game except the producers and scriptwriters but its a game which must be played in a world that has lost its innocence.

  20. Raja November 23, 2008 at 8:57 pm #


    I don’t see any of the regimental welfare organisations seriously diverting armed forces energies which adversely affects their op efficiency or give rise to serious disgruntlement amongst troops save a minority of bellyaching members who are unable to fit into a happy team or contribute substantially towards professionalism.

    The trouble is that ‘welfare’ in peacetime sucks peace out of peace stations!

    Adverse effects on operational efficiency cannot be measured, Sir! How do you measure the effects of ‘welfare’ activities of peacetime onto operational efficiency? Where is the correlation? Any way to justify either way would only be in the realms of rhetoric.

    If there is no effect, then perhaps we are over-manned and over-funded?

    The crux of the matter is that we must strive to become a process oriented army where the institution is more than the individual. Till the time ‘noblesse oblige’ is the norm and we are happy with the noble king, it is always a slippery slide towards whim and fancy.

    An organisation which cannot face questions cannot survive in the information age.

    Comparing our practices with what is ‘acceptable’ to the civil servants or the police is not the issue. We should have a code that is immutable and inviolate. Such codes are to be built by people.

    But perhaps the pyramid takes care of all the code making, as the process of climbing breaks the backbone (sic!)

    A team is ‘happiest’ when it has systems that can absorb, analyse and act on dissent. Without such systems in place, we give up the ground to others, who can tilt the windmills to their own ends.

    ‘Contribution towards Professionalism’ need not be confused with dissent on a few aspects of the Olive Greens!! Give me a man who ‘bellyaches’ 24/7, but when the chips are down, can rise to the occasion, anyday.

    It is only because we don’t have standards to ‘measure’ professionalism in peacetime that we tend to go overboard on ‘welfare’ activities. This is my take on the subject, and I think I am not too far from the truth.

    Nobody here is suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is a wonderful organisation. But it is getting more and more laden with needless baggage – one of which is the ever increasing un-quantified and un-verified ‘welfare’ activity.

  21. subodh November 23, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    @ KKMalhotra and Inderjit Kashyap.
    respected sir,
    No body said that AWWA does not do welfare.It requires audit about the amount being pumped in and the net result.Let us not take refuge under trying to tell that other NGOs police or IAS are also doing that.They are corrupt & inefficient is accepted by all of us (general public)and an institution like army should not deteriorate to their level.So the stand that the NGO’s or a DM/Sp of police also behaves like that is not a defence.
    That the officers are detailed to volunteer for AWWA cause is known to all officers.This leads to wide spread resentment.The office bearers of AWWA are by the hierarchi of their husbands’s rank.Why cant be a soldier’s wife be president of AWWA ? if she is well educated.Will our custodians of the forces accept this? IMPOSSIBLE.
    So let us not fool ourselves.
    Let us be more honest than hippocrats.
    We are here for discussion and educate each other for the betterment of services.Let us not argue.
    Exchange of knowlede is discussion
    Exchange of ignorence is argument.
    with due respect

  22. voyager November 24, 2008 at 1:34 am #


    Not too far from the truth indeed.

  23. Pragmatic November 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    @all who disagree with this blogpost,

    Let me use parts of an earlier comment to explain the resistance to accept what is wrong.

    First and foremost, serving officers should learn about and begin to appreciate the culture of candour that should drive any progressive organisation. Speaking generally, unlike many other institutions of excellence (especially abroad) are based on a candour-based culture, whereas officers of the Indian defence services are driven by an honour-based culture. In the military, “straight talk” should be a supreme virtue.

    It seems that most defence officers believe that communication is a vehicle by which you assure everyone that things are okay – especially when they’re not. The notion of admitting problems is as nutty as the idea of seeing a therapist — it would be tantamount to admitting that you are a failure who cannot be trusted. That is self-denial at its worst.

    “Getting to the truth” isn’t an obsession of the Indian military officers or the Indian defence services as an institution. That would drive the process of self-realisation. The services should accept criticism as a necessary path for improvement and not as an indictment of any individual.

  24. trusty November 24, 2008 at 10:02 pm #

    CNS’s wife is permitted to travel in service aircraft vide INAP-2 of the Naval Aviation Branch. I could get the article no also if you are interested.

  25. Inderjit Kashyap November 25, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    1. I have clearly mentioned that to enable the AWWA to improve, do a SWOT analysis & thereafter give constructive suggestions, am more than
    positive that these will be welcomed.
    2. My experience of AWWA.s functionining, despite its weaknesses has been that it has contributed to the improvement of the lives of the families of all ranks, by the way 36 yrs service is adequate to gauge.
    3. Am not for a moment against anyone seeking information through whatever means, he/ they have their point of view & a right too, but view the issue in totality & suggest methods, all writing on this blog have enough expertise to do so. Let the AWWA & its counterparts in the Navy & Air Force be the beneficiaries of your wealth of knowledge & experience.
    4. Am sure the die hard critics will also agree that the collective wisdom of the 3 Chiefs & their Commanders to continue with this welfare organisation, for the past so many yrs, should be acknowledged & appreciated. Let us not be “just critics” because we have had a few bad incidents in our career. Also, to write “Damn the AWWA to hell.
    Trash the bloody women”, in a blog where everyone tries to contribute to a healthy discussion/debate, is in totally bad taste & does not get the writer any “brownie points”, if he thought he would score some.
    5. Let me also share with everyone that to think that an NGO will better serve our families’ fraternity, is misguided & has not been able to understand the ethos of this welfare organisation in the Services. Condemn it for all that you like but ” suggest ways to improve it after its pluses/strengths”, the current critics will have earned the respect of others on this blog & that my friends ” will be a very big achievement”.

  26. rlc November 26, 2008 at 6:41 pm #


  27. Raja November 27, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    echoes viewpoint #2.

  28. rlc November 27, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    well mr raj…u r right…i’ jus read wat i’v written is quite similar to wat u’v written….may b u’v written in a beautiful way n i jus scribbled wat was in my mind jus to relieve my frustations…actually these ladies things actually made me go under depression….newayz i think this might not be same wid u…newayz have a nice day…

  29. PS November 27, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    @Inderjit Kashyap

    “by the way 36 yrs service is adequate to gauge.’

    41 + 4 + 36 + 27 submits else Sir:

    [1] Even though Dr MMSK is painful, he has had the good sense not add a demi official power channel by asking Mrs MMKK to run a PWWA.

    [2] Today, met a retd VCOAS, [ 87 ] in a library. He said he still remembers with a shudder, being confronted by the angry wife of an Admiral, 30 years ago. She wanted him to sort out a junior General who was messing around with (children’s) school administration. Said she ” whenever I phone him in the office he is in a meeting and when I ring him at home he in hiding in the bathroom ” Pull him up or out.

    [3] From ‘ Uniformly Crazy’
    Subtitle ‘ Satanic Verses on the Indian Army ‘
    By Ashok Mahajan pub 1993 Rupa ISBN 81-7167-143-8

    Titled ‘Termagant’ Verse 2

    Rumours are getting ripe and riper
    The First Lady’s no woman but a viper;
    One hiss to the Commander
    About critters who offend her
    Down they slump as if shot by a sniper.

  30. rlc November 27, 2008 at 10:04 pm #

    well all this ladies stuff can be sorted out by keepin them out from ne army stuff…jus give them space…they r not employed by army so no need to mingle them wid any army stuff…..but there’s another fact that army wives have started living with their husband’s ranks…so when their husbands reach a high rank they start pullin other ladies cuz afterall they need somebody to boss and rule around..they started with that’do wat others do unto u”(dnt mind bad at phrases)….but cut all this crap out let army personnel’s wives live life of their own…they need to have identity of their own,now just mrs…..w/oapt/maj/col or watever c….its high time to change now..

  31. rlc November 27, 2008 at 10:18 pm #

    i jus remembered one more thing… army wives are dragged form meetings to parties which are also COMPULSARY….how can they force anyone in things like these…cuz they r jus their employees spouses not employees…under this process there kids are neglected cuz in most of the affairs kids are not allowed but r compulsory for the mother…ladies are forced to leave their kid at home with helps and many inccidents have been reported in which the kids have been physically or sexually abused by the domestic helps… tell me who is responsible for this mothers or this damn suckin army wives system….somethin really needs to b done on this…

  32. drsubodhkhare November 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    @ Inderjit lashyap,
    Respected sir,
    Why does AWWA has to have a hierarchy like army.It can be democratic and still function well.
    BUT if a soldier’s wife is president of local AWWA,she will get no support as the egoes of the senior officers wives will not permit it.
    I can understand you have gracefully circumvented this issue.
    The inherent hierarchial nature of AWWA gives rise to a lot of its problems(Though it may give it strength also while using army resources.)

  33. Aarti November 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    The point is very rightly put forward.. but leave apart few posts everybody is criticising the culture and have deviated from the issue, that is, RTI about AWWA activities,fundings and all. Maj(Retd.) Guneet Chowdhary has put the substance in front of the masses and people have right to know that how the defence budget is diverted, in the name of AWWA, an NGO in armed forces. The petition should not be withdrawn because there are lot many other things which are unknown to the common man about armed forces and armed forces deny to give appraisal of these on account of confidentiality of matter. Which is their only weapon to avoid the queries.

    If everything is alright, army should’nt be having any problems with the disclosure of the information in the national interest when it is equivocal that AWWA is not being funded by armed forces. Inspite of the fact, that AWWA is using all the resources of army for movement and presentations to the meets organised and display of the grandeur during AWWA President’s visits, army is refusing their association with AWWA but on what grounds and it should be made public. If army is right, then from where all these funds are coming, please specify ??

    There are lot many things which will generate from this one issue and they should be raised in the interest of nation..

  34. Yash November 30, 2008 at 8:56 pm #


    what u have brought out is a reality in the armed forces. but please try to understand this is a necessity for the organisation. it is for this reason that a higher increase for the defence officers was being sought. but alas!

    rlc, even if u were working in the civil, u would have to leave ur kids once in a while, the problem is that risk in the armed forces is more. it is better to find solutions rather than contest the requirement. the army has to have a hierarchy even in the ladies ( not so sacrosanct i agree). this hierarchy of ladies is also found in other services as well as corporate world. what needs reformation is the attitude of the senior ladies. earlier they were motherly figures who advised u on personal and demi-official issues (how to solve the problems of ur soldiers families). i agree, sue to the demeaning of the forces outside (by our reverend babus) these officers and ladies try to recreate their pride by wrong means. the competition is growing increasingly, now we get career soldiers ( nothing wrong in it) rather than the ones who joined for pride, so he worried about his future (if he does not make to a colonel, he has to retire at an age of 48, with a paltry pension), and tries to get a few promotions. the problems are that the army does not the power to rectify this problem. if sideways placement (not in BSF & CRPF) comes in, officers will have lesser competition (which is bad for the army, because two ppl in competition with each other, will have some amount of resentment against each other and may not fight together very well)

    i sincerely have my sympathies with u, but may not wholeheartedly support u in blaming the armed forces.

  35. yes November 30, 2008 at 9:31 pm #

    guneet is a lady

  36. Yash November 30, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    awwa if the cheapest NGO, hope army gives out the details.

  37. jags December 8, 2008 at 2:57 am #

    hi there….couldnt agree more with most of the comments on this post. the most important thing for the senior officers is to learn and learn it fast that every youngster who is in services…both officers as well as PBOR has complete access to information…this info may be partial or otherwise…but it will never the less have an impact on him. everyone joining today will ask questions…the era of blind faith in face of abosolutely illogical decisions are long gone. we are no longer a colonial armed forces…and it better be realised by the senior officers…NWWA/AWWA are defunct organisations…i know of tens of officers whose carriers have been made thanks not to their professional competency…but more due the amount of time spent by their wives in NWWA. well…as someone pointed out earlier…one cannot say that all that happens in NWWA is bad. we need to realise that for a LOT of wives of PBOR NWWA/AWWA is the only lifeline…especially things like…counselling services…its also an important tool for the organisation to know the pulse of the men…and who better to know it from than from the wives….these organisations play an important role in MORALE…however…it not used judisoiusly …it may also demoralise. there is no question that these oranisations have to be revamped….in this age one cannot have large parties…week long practice of dance..just because the wife of a senior officer is visiting he station for couple of hours…the worst part is that…most of wives especially of junior officer(the mid rung level officer’s wives have by now smartened they manage an excuse .of have kids are co-erced into these activities….well..if you like doing such stuff..then make it voluntary….but the fact remains …who wants to risk the ire of an admiral’s wife?????? so the only way to handle this…stop such functions. well….about the source of funding….we all pay subscription to NWWA through our MESS BILL..however…we have no right to ask about the accountability..

    anyway…i think such problems are bound to exist.especially in a rigidly hierarchial organisation like armed forces…i am sure even corporates have their own versions of wives playing a role in their husband’s carrers..their intensity may vary…at least in navy one can risk taking punga with a boss…coz you/him is bound to get transferred within a year…and then you can start i guess it must be more tough in army and AF…you are stuck for life in the same unit/sqn.

    meanwhile…i do feel that the current breed of officers is much different …especially coz of AVSC implementation…i think sychofancy has reduced to a greater extent.due to assured carrer progression and one is not totally dependent of the BOSS’s favour to get promoted.
    thanks and regards

  38. Munnabhaai December 8, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    The requirement or otherwise of an organisation should be interpreted independent of its style of functioning .
    The WWAs of the services no doubt have been serving the cause of the services over the years, but of course there is a lot of scope for change.
    As many people have brought out earlier, the relevance of the WWAs has come down .But this is basically because of its style of functioning and its focus on issues with doubtful purpose. In most stations ,it merely acts a stepping stone for the spouse of the lady involved, in furtherance of his career.
    The argument calling for its disbandment due to its present style of functioning is not in the right spirit. If the same yardstick is applied, many organisations in the country, including the government of the day would have to undergo the same fate.
    Regarding why only the senior most officer’s wife holds key appointment of WWA secretary/president, I feel the reason for this is the simple logic that she being the wife , would be more accessible to the man responsible for taking decisions or implementing the proposals of the WWA, than other more educated ladies in the station .
    The answer for why WWA president be authorised service aircraft is same as why Sonia Gandhi and her kith and kin need SPG protection at public expense or why Lt Col be in PB3 despite their counterparts have been put into PB4!

  39. Shailesh December 11, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    The history is replete with spouses or partners of high ranking individuals contributing a stellar role to the organisation or the nation. Every US President’s wife till date, to Ms Michelle Obama(To be) has been entrusted non officio posts and role in the policy and execution of various welfare and uplifting schemes for the family. This is due to fact that the spouses appointment affords them vision, exposure, knowledge and proximity to action.
    The WWA’s of today has evolved eons from where it was at inception with personality development cadres, debates and lectures being done by the families. This is apart from the usual and vocational and curricular activities being done to instill confidence and self sufficiency in the wives. This also binds the soldiers and their families in a close well knit fabric which infuses tremendous confidence in all to die for ones task with the firm belief that the family has the self sufficiency and the organization will also take full care. And none of this is for money.
    For those who have not contributed whole heartedly with a positive aim or acted in a spineless manner and forced their wives also to carry on the illogical or irrelevant orders of the seniors this would have left a bitter taste as comes with selling your soul to the devil; whether for One rupee or the husband’s next rank.
    But such organizations exist in all nations and in all spheres. Do all of them have such a onerous responsibility towards the nation and morale and motivation of the soldiers. Even the mercenaries and terrorists have laid down systems and procedures for hefty payment / employment to the families in the event of the fidayeen death of the terrorist.
    There is need to further improve this wonderful necessity with positive intent in pace with the times.

  40. Guneet Chaudhary January 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Dear All,

    There is so much confusion about my identity, the reason for filing the application against AWWA under RTI Act 2005. I thought I must apprise all with the facts.

    I am the person who had initiated the application for the information regarding the functioning of AWWA. I am an Ex Army Armoured Corp Officer and at present the Advocate of Supreme Court of India and the Senior partner of JURISCONSULTUS, Law Firm with 22 lawyers on roll.
    I have got a great respect for INDIAN ARMY and belongs to ARMY FAMILY. My association with the army can be ascertained from the fact that so for around fifty students( dependents of Army Personnel) form Army Law School, Chandigarh, have done their LLB internship with my law firm in the last three years. Further, three of them have been given regular employment in my law firm. I have handled various legal matters of Army Personnel ( including Officers, JCO’s and ranks) without charging any professional fees from them.

    I have not alleged any thing against the functioning of AWWA. My application is only for seeking the information about the source of funding and functioning of the AWWA.

    Public Information Officer of Indian Army says that ,”AWWA IS A NGO SO IT DOES NOT COMES UNDER THE RTI ACT”. iT IS NOT FINANCED BY THE ARMY.

    The Appellate authority says that ,”IT IS AN NGO BUT NOT SUBSTANTIALLY FINANCED BY THE ARMY”.

    The questions is ,” Who finances it?”.



    Finally, why a trained soldier be forced to sell Vegetable in AWWA shop, why a trained solider be forced to run the STD booth for AWWA, Why a regular officer is made incharge( OIC) of AWWA schools? Why can’t these jobs be given to disbaled exservicemen, war widows and retired handicapped personnel with full wages perks and benefits.

    Next time visit AWWA shopping Centre, find out from the Civilian AWWA employee about his salary and any benefits. You will be shocked my friend.
    Time is to revamp the structure of AWWA.

    Most welcome to send emails to me.

    Guneet Chaudhary

    • pankaj December 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

      sir i m serving soldier in artillery. why my adjt, 2ic, co is force me ane taurtured for AWWA activity,
      1. why your family not attend welfare last time . you have to vacant yor married accomandation.
      2. they have treated me like his BANDHUA MAJDOOR
      PL HELP

  41. Yash January 4, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    guneet could u give ur email id (how do u expect ppl to write to u without it???)

  42. Yash January 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    please read the current issue of frontline

    Mr Bhaskar Ghosh, correctly sums up the problems of the armed forces when it comes to expenditure on issues which the armed forces feel are right.

    “The questions is ,” Who finances it?”.

    AWWA is financed by private funds (voluntary contributions and canteen profits) and is used for welfare of the soldiers. no officers wife takes a salary for working for AWWA (despite the president AWWA devoting a substantial portion of her time for it). isn’t it noble? i believe not for u, who believes nothing is ever done for anyones good, only for own. none of these office bearers can spend a penny on themselves (except maybe the cup of coffee in the office). most of the money is spent on grants to widows, or financial help to get them on their feet (which is what the welfare funds of the army are meant for).

    i hope guneet it answers ur basic question from where is awwa financed. if u have served in the army, i don’t know why u don’t know it till now (which i do not believe). it is just ur aim to exploit a loophole in the law (as is done by IDAS, as mentioned by Mr Bhaskar Ghosh in his article.

    coming to ur second question. why are soldiers (forced?) to work in the AWWA shops.

    running institutions for the welfare of its soldiers is mandated to the army (that’s why the CSD canteen). the vegetable shops serve twin purposes, firstly to provide cheap and fresh vegetables to the soldiers families closer to their home (a civilian vendor cannot be allowed to set shop in the army land unless a shopping centre has been made, and he may charge exorbitant prices), and secondly to consolidate the small profits earned by these shops for a bigger purpose (consolidated fund to provide meaningful succor to soldiers families). hence the awwa shops just do not work on the principle of profits, but also providing relief to soldiers and their families.

    why not disabled ex-servicemen, or widows to run these shops? as he himself says the salaries are shocking (very less) because the need is to keep the venture running on its own steam, while keeping the prices low (u would also be surprised at the meagre profits being earned, it is just that the profit of all these ventures combine to a substantial amount). also it would not be prudent to place a lady in the unit lines where the timing of the calls would be pretty late (say 10 or 11 pm). army also does not allow a non serviceman run the STD booth because of issues of security. a soldier there keeps a tab on the conversation (not eavesdropping) to ensure nothing which is not supposed to be said is said. so STD booths and vegetable shops are not possible to be manned by ex-servicemen or widows, first one because of security and second one because of low profitability). coming to other utility shops being run by awwa. these, most of the times stock wares produced in house (either within awwa or by venture of widows or ex-servicemen). sometimes do stock articles from outside (not linked to widows or ex-servicemen) based on the appreciated need of the families and soldiers (eg affordable children’s clothes to be picked up by soldiers when they go home on leave for their children or even for the families for their children at affordable rates. it is common knowledge that children’s clothings are sold at minimum 50-80% margin). the money earned is not completely remitted to the central awwa fund, but only a portion of it. the rest is maintained by the units for their own small awwa initiatives or welfare activities.

    i have deliberately kept the things elaborate and simple to make sense to the most bone headed chap. however if u still have any specific doubts (doubts can only relate to corruption, for which the awwa maintains account books and gets them audited regularly). the how and where of the funds do not have any meaning if u r convinced that it is not used for ignoble purpose. so i would suggest raise doubts (if any) of any ignoble utilisation of the funds. do not create hurdles like the IDAS chaps (as mentioned by Mr Bhaskar Ghose) just for the heck of it.

    guneet if u could specify, as to why are u so intent on knowing the source of AWWA funds (every thing has a purpose, i don’t simply ask why the neighbour has bought a indica and not a maruti), ur querries could be more aptly answered (though i have no link with awwa, but i can answer most of the queries based on general knowledge, or rather even guneet can answer)

    “The flame of one candle can light thousand of others. ~Lord Mahavira”

    also flame of one candle can burn an entire house?

    • Pragmatic January 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm #


      Having seen a host of comments on issues about which you know little about the factual positions but still pontificate with half-truths and lies, I can only say that either you are naive and ignorant or you believe that others are absolutely dumb to speak without knowing the truth.

      If everything is right with AWWA (as you claim), then why this hesitation by the army in answering the questions. The RTI query about AWWA is a symptom — not the malaise — of the feudal, colonial mindset that affects the defence services in the country.

      More importantly, run a professional organisation with professionals. Not a personal fiefdom based on a parallel hierarchy of wives.

      Even CAG has commented about the use of government resources by AWWA functionaries.

      AWWA is financed by private funds (voluntary contributions and canteen profits)…
      And why is the Army not willing to say that. Because that is not true. From government buildings to vehicles to military resources are all used for AWWA.

      For the rest of your points, you are factually incorrect there with most issues. Even unit run canteens of the CSD can not employ soldiers (most of them do in gross violations of orders).

      And yes, any person buying a Maruti or an Indica is his or her personal decision while AWWA is a public body and has to be transparent and answerable for its actions. Btw, teh army has denied any association with AWHO, AWES, besides AWWA, as well. Can you think of the answer with your “general knowledge” besides noble intentions?

  43. Yash January 4, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    Subodh @ 21

    well if awwa does welfare, and also non of the office bearers take salary (this can be verified by the RTI, and would be promptly answered by AWWA), what is the question. why do u want it to be wrangled in bureaucratic red tape and subject it to laws, which would kill the spirit of awwa. which NGO has ppl working for free?? i havn’t heard of any.

    “officers are forced to work for awwa.”

    none of the officers have yet complained, it is only u who is complaining (or even prag or guneet, who have nothing to do with this organisation). the welfare of soldiers families is very well part of the officers basic charter of duties. the ladies involved in awwa would require the help of officers for liaison and book keeping or organisation of events at cheap cost (it has to save as much of money for its primary task, which is commendable)

    “why is the hierarchy of ladies maintained in AWWA?”

    it is a common sense approach (subodh, if u r not in the army u would not understand it). the station commanders wife can make his husband agree to anything for AWWA (of course only the legal things). say for example, a AWWA meet is to be held. the station commander would have lot of commitments and may end up prioritising AWWA meet much lower, which may be counter productive. station commander’s wife when she asks will be refused only if it is inevitable. moreover it helps in saving cost, as she can ask the husband to help them with the shamiana of one of the units, or provide a few men to organise the event (all this ends up saving costs to awwa). the senior officers wife also understands the hierarchy of the army and whom to deal with if she wants some information or job done. however the basic reason is that awwa has evolved from the inhouse system in the army to look after the soldier’s families which was earlier done at the unit level and the commanding officer’s wife used to do the work with all other families in the unit. the levels kept increasing (leading to better synergy and better fund management) and hence it was decided to set up AWWA, so that it could also solicit some grants (lots of corporates give grants or items to awwa for distribution to widows).

    since awwa does not pay its members (president secretary etc) asking a soldiers wife to do this job would be coercion (they are employed only at places where they can be paid, even if meager wages).

  44. Yash January 4, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    true prag,

    it is for CAG that i provided the link of frontline.

    why shud the army answer query in RTI if it is not supposed to and they have mentioned it very clearly.

    it would be definitely from u, that even if they work for free in the organisation, why shud they not spend their own money to commute (use of vehicles), or pay rent to the govt for use of its building, which could keep lying vacant. kudos to u.

    i could quote quite a lot of them. also do not mislead ppl by saying that unit run canteens cannot employ soldiers. rather as per govt orders they are paid extra duty allowance for working in the CSD.

    AWWA using govt vehicles and buildings is primarily to save on money for the cause it is meant for and keep the administrative expenses as low as possible (but this makes u unhappy, does it?). what do u have to say about the salary less service put in by the wives?? use of the govt vehicle does not help her personally as she would be better of looking after the house or her job instead of spending the time for welfare of her organisation for the chai pakora she gets there. do u feel AWWA shud hire these buildings outside the cantonment and keep a fleet of vehicles purchased out of awwa funds?? find out the administrative expenses from an NGO.

    it is very sad that in our country since ppl are uneducated (there is difference between literacy and education) they believe a lie told over and over.

    instead of fogging the issue i have replied point by point to ur questions (or insinuations?). i am replying it with my actual knowledge of the army, while u are speculating or basing ur facts on newspaper articles.

  45. Guneet Chaudhary January 5, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Yash and all friends,

    Please do read the RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005. All your queries will be settled.
    What is a Public Authority? And If AWWA is a public Authority, it has to provide the information. If you are not satisfied, challenge this act in the Court of law instead of giving vague answers .
    Sir, Law is a matter of objective yardsticks and parameters and not subjective perceptions and precepts, on the objectivity of law and legality your point deserves to be totally ignored if not rejected. This application has been moved under the RTI Act duly passed by the Parliament and deserves to be answered. The Yeoman service done by AWWA should be highlighted and the General Public should know its source of funding. At one point Army representative says ,”ARMY DONES NOT GIVE ANY MONEY TO AWWA” and at other point serving officer represents AWWA and AWWA is deemed to be part of an Indian Army.

    In coming times transparency is going to rule, Even in the Blogs Hon’ble people will display their actual names not the net names.

    Guneet ( Actual name)

  46. Mishra January 17, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    I agree with this article, AWWA must provide an acount of its activities as most of the time its a sheer waste of money, time, intelligence and resources. It should be banned from organising the lavish meets to welcome so and so VIP visits. If VIP’s visit they should just visit the vocational training centre and that also must be surprise visit to actually see what has been accomplished in reality. I have come across people who are computer science graduates and either doing MEd or even M Phil being forced to learn things like embroidery or fabric painting by the order of CO Wives just because they ran short of ladies to teach and still have to come up with the numbers. Jawans are sick of welfare work charades as they see it pointless as their wives do all the housework, look after kids without any help and then forced to attend these meets and practice dancing and singing for hours just because they are staying with them. AWWA now has to wake up to real demands and needs of the people it intends to teach and help.

  47. sree March 1, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Hi! iam here to say that not only these are the problems a serving solidier facing today but there are more things which need to be dug out, like the sudden and surprice school fee hike in army public schools throught the country,and the most worst practice of the army officers that is SAHAYAKS ( if any officer is authourised to get a sahayak in his present posted and working location it is some how ok, but here these are the some great officers doing an extra damage to the morale of a solidier by ordering him to go to the native place of that officer to do that worst job of sahayak and that too to serve that officer wife and kids.if it is not a serious kind of misusing the power then what? ) and also i want to ask my fellow country men is there any honest and willing person who could ask these officers to disclose their property and assets under the RTI 2005 ?
    think about it…………………

  48. drsubodhkhare March 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    @ Yash,
    Respected sir,
    I have served 18.5 yrs in army and Thus I am not talking without any experience or without having seen things from inside.I know AWWA reasonably well.Your arguments are simply naive trying to protect AWWA for reasons best known to you.
    After understanding the wastage of time in AWWA my wife decided not to go for the meetings and I had no objection for that.Im was an upcoming officer and had not missed any board.So I did not need to justify the existence of AWWA.But I feel pity about your arguments like justifying AWWA office bearers using car for saving money.This shows that you dont know simple profit and loss accounting.If President AWWA takes an autorickshaw it would save much more money rather than paying for a car’s purchase, depreciation, the driver’s salary and all benefits etc.
    No further coments from me
    Subodh (real name)

  49. midas June 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    AWWA in its new avtar!

    After the directions of CIC, AWWA is in the process of emerging in its new avtar. The hitherto fore Staff Officers, AWWA have been redesignated as ‘welfare officers’ who will be ‘guided’ by the ‘senior most lady’ in the station.

    The welfare committee may also contribute and pay to NGOs (such as AWWA?) for the any services which may be outsourced to them.

    Veeeerry intelligent indeed! Short-circuit bhi kiya – spark bhi nahi hua.

  50. boots January 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Army is a big family..a family made of care,affection and above all tied in knots of home away from home.

    it has performed beyond comparision and so is the AWWA…they contributes significantly…Its upto a person to gauge him or herself regarding the happiness he can derive from it…

    regarding compulsory events ..yes it is a disciplined organisation and its in our culture what we follow at our own home..if some one is rude at home dont we get preturbed.. we are not outlawed..we respect our seniors..

    these issues can take back seat and their are more burning issues in country that need to be discussed and regularised..

    AWWA is purely welfare and welfare can never be pain…

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