Spanning a period of more than 4,000 years while witnessing the fusion of several customs and traditions, India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. The history of the nation reflects the rich culture and heritage of the country, and gives a glimpse into the magnanimity of its evolution, from a country reeling under colonialism to one of the leading economies in the global scenario.
In an effort to instil a sense of national pride in the heart of every Indian within the country and abroad, we have brought you this section about Indian awards.
The highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna is given for exceptional service towards advancement of art, literature and science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order. Awarded every year, the provision of Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954.
The first ever Indian to receive this award was the famous scientist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. Since then, many dignitaries, each a whiz in varied careers, has received this coveted award.
India’s former President APJ Abdul Kalam was also honoured by this esteemed award in 1997. Mother Teresa was also a recipient of this award in 1980, and two non-Indians - Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela in 1990.
1) Param Vir Chakra
Param Vir Chakra (PVC) is the highest gallantry award for officers and other enlisted personnel of all military branches of India for the highest degree of valour in the presence of the enemy. Introduced on January 26, 1950, this award is the equivalent award of the Medal of Honour in the United States, and the Victoria Cross in the United Kingdom.
One amongst the luminous recipients of this honour was Flying Officer Nirmal Jiit Singh Sekhon, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously in the year 1971. He is the lone Indian Air Force officer to have been honoured with the Param Vir Chakra till date.
2) Ashok Chakra
The Ashok Chakra series of awards are open to civilians also. Recommendations received in respect of civilians from the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations and Ministries/Departments of the Central Government are processed by the Ministry of Defence for the consideration of the Central Honours and Awards Committee chaired by the Defence Minister. These awards are biannual and are given on the Republic Day and Independence Day.
3) Shaurya Chakra
This is awarded for gallantry other than in the face of the enemy. This award may be granted to civilians or to military personnel and may be awarded posthumously.
Padma Awards, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri are given for exceptional and distinguished service in any field including service rendered by Indian government servants. The recommendations for Padma Awards are received from the state governments/Union Territory administrations, Central Ministries/Departments, Institutions of Excellence, etc. which are considered by an Awards Committee. On the basis of the recommendations of the Awards Committee, and after approval of the Home Minister, Prime Minister and President, the Padma Awards are announced on the eve of the Republic Day.
The national awards for bravery was started in 1957 by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) to recognise and honour children who have performed outstanding deeds of bravery and selfless sacrifice. Every year the ICCW confers these awards to children below 16years of age.
Applications for these awards are acknowledged from Central/State government departments, Panchayats, Zila Parishads, school authorities as well as state and Union Territory councils for child welfare.
Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards
The Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of awards are given for courage and promptitude under circumstances of great danger to the life or bodily injury of the rescuer, displayed in an act or a series of acts of humane nature, in saving a life from drowning, fire, rescue operations in mines, etc. Recommendations for Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are received from the State Government/Union Territory, Administrations and Ministries /Departments of the Government of India.