A country’s armed forces are its most precious treasure. Our soldiers leave no stone unturned to guard India’s borders and protect its citizens with a state of independence and freedom. Whilst there is no reward that can equate to their acts of bravery, the Government of India makes an effort to honour and celebrate their invincible spirit through Gallantry Awards.
The Six Gallantry Awards
Source: SSB Crack Exams
There are six of these awards that fall under two categories:
1. Wartime: Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra
These are granted for acts of gallantry in the face of the enemy.
2. Peacetime: Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra
These are granted for acts of gallantry otherwise than in the face of an enemy. Hence, these can also be awarded to civilians.
The awards were originally called the Ashoka Chakra Class-I, the Ashoka Chakra Class-II and the Ashoka Chakra Class-III respectively, but were renamed in January 1967.
In the order of precedence, the Param Vir Chakra ranks No. 1, followed by the Ashoka Chakra, the Maha Vir Chakra, the Kirti Chakra, the Vir Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra.
History of the awards
All Gallantry awards were established post independence. The wartime awards were first instituted on 26 January 1950, the day India became a republic and our constitution came into force. Whereas the peacetime awards were instituted on 4 January 1952. However, all six were deemed to take effect from 15 August 1947. Since then, these awards are among the most prestigious honours conferred on Indians.
Major Somnath Sharma, the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra (Source: Aviation & Defence Universe)
The Ministry of Defence invites a list of eligible candidates for the gallantry awards twice in a year from the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The list is then scrutinized by the Central Honours & Awards Committee, which comprises Defence Minister, Defence Secretary, Home Secretary and three Service Chiefs. Lastly, it is presented in front of the President and the Prime Minister for approval.
People eligible for gallantry awards include:
Personnel of all ranks of the armed forces including the Army, Navy and Air Forces
Nursing services’ staff of the armed forces
The proposed candidates should have never been associated with any adverse report, or been punished through administrative action or court martial proceeding
All gallantry awards may be granted posthumously, but the act of gallantry must have taken place within two calendar years from the date of nominee’s consideration for the award.
Awardees receive Medal and Financial aid
Gallantry award winners or their kin receive medals and monetary assistance from the Central and State Governments.
All the medals have a circular shape and are one and three eighth inches in diameter. On each of their backs, the respective award names are written in both Hindi and English. Their obverses and the ribbons vary.
The Param Vir Chakra is made of bronze. Its obverse has a State Emblem surrounded by four replicas of 'Indra's Vajra.' It has a wholly purple-colored ribbon.
Param Vir Chakra (Source: Current GK)
The Maha Vir Chakra is made of standard silver. Its obverse is covered with a five-pointed heraldic star and the State Emblem in the centre of the star. Its ribbon is bicolored vertically- half orange and half white.
Maha Vir Chakra (Source: Jagran Josh)
The Vir Chakra is also made of standard silver, and it resembles the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC). The obverse has a five-pointed heraldic star with a State Emblem in between. Its ribbon, too, is bicolored vertically- half orange and half blue.
Vir Chakra (Source: Wikipedia)
The Ashoka Chakra, the Kirti Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra look quite alike. Their obverses have an Ashoka Chakra in the centre, encircled by a lotus wreath. But their metals and ribbons differ.
Ashoka Chakra (Source:Jagran Josh)
Kirti Chakra (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Shaurya Chakra (Source: Gallantry Awards)
The Ashoka Chakra is made of gold gild, and its green-colored ribbon has a vertical orange line in the centre. The Kirti Chakra is made of standard silver, and its green-colored ribbon is split into three parts by two vertical orange lines. The Shaurya Chakra is made of bronze, and its green-colored ribbon is split into four parts by three vertical orange lines.
The Central Government provides a monthly monetary allowance to the gallantry award winners, which is as follows:
Param Vir Chakra – ₹20,000
Ashoka Chakra – ₹12,000
Maha Vir Chakra – ₹10,000
Kirti Chakra – ₹9,000
Vir Chakra – ₹7,000
Shaurya Chakra – ₹6,000
State governments generally offer one-time cash rewards, the amount of which varies from state to state. For instance, Haryana offers ₹2 crore to PVC awardees from its state while Gujarat offers ₹22,500.
Declaration and Investiture
Gallantry awards are declared bi-annually on Republic Day and Independence Day.
The President awards the Param Vir Chakra and the Ashoka Chakra to the awardees or their kin during the Republic Day celebration at Rajpath. The other four are awarded at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
President Ram Nath Kovind giving away the Ashoka Chakra to Nazir Ahmad Wani posthumously. The award was received by his next of kin at the 70th Republic Day Celebrations at Rajpath on January 26, 2019. (Source: Wikipedia)
Till 2020, the government awarded 4,296 gallantry awards consisting of:
21 Param Vir Chakra
222 Maha Vir Chakra
1,331 Vir Chakra
90 Ashok Chakra
492 Kirti Chakra
2,140 Shaurya Chakra
You can check out the complete list of awardees here.