(Last Updated on : 08/01/2011)
From the remote past, countries have honoured excellence, outstanding service and achievements. In India, this recognition has indeed taken a number of forms, including awarding of medals. To recognise and honour the service of the Indian defence force, the Indian defence awards are given by the President of India.
The Indian defence awards can be divided into two categories, namely, the awards given for gallantry for fighting the enemy and those given for bravery other than fighting the enemy, known as the non gallantry award. The gallantry awards are again categorised into two main categories and stands as the awards - those for gallantry in the face of the enemy and awards- those for gallantry other than in the face of the enemy. The first category of the defence award that is the awards for gallantry in the face of the enemy comprises the prestigious awards like Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Sena - Nao Sena and Vayu Sena Medal, Mention in dispatches and chiefs of staff commendation card.
Param Vir Chakra is the highest honour given to military personnel for display of courage and bravery. Maha Vir Chakra is the second highest honour given to military personnel for a brave deed on land, at sea or in the air. Vir Chakra ranks third in terms of position in Gallantry awards and is awarded to military personnel who have defended their countries in times of need. Sena Medal is given to army men and it is a circular silver medal with a bayonet pointing upwards. Nao Sena Medal is exclusively presented to the navy personnel and it is a circular silver medal with the naval crest on the obverse. Vayu Sena Medal was established by the President of India on 17th June 1960 and is awarded to the Indian Air Force "in recognition of such individual acts of exceptional devotion to duty or courage as have special significance for the Air Force."
The second category of the gallantry award comprises the esteemed awards like Ashoka Chakra, Kirti chakra and the Shaurya Chakra. Originally these were named as Ashoka Chakra class I, Class II and Class III.
While Ashoka Chakra is warded for the "most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice" other than in the face of the enemy, the Kirti Chakra is awarded for "conspicuous gallantry" in non-combatant situations. Both the Asoka Chakra and the Kirti Chakra can be awarded to recognise the gallantry and courage of the military personnel as well as of the civilians. The medals may be awarded posthumously. Shaurya Chakra is awarded to commemorate the valour of civilians or the military personnel.
Among the non-gallantry awards, the following can be mentioned:
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Sarvottam Yudh Seva Medal
Uttam Yudh Seva Medal
Yudh Seva Medal
Samar Seva Medal
Sainya Seva Medal
25th Independence Anniversary Medal