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Glory and Honor: Exploring the National Awards of India

India has a long history of respecting and honouring people with noteworthy excellence and achievements by giving them a multitude of prestigious awards for their contribution in a wide range of fields such as art, literature, science and sports. This article will help you know everything about these awards and the remarkable people who got this award after independence. So, let us learn about these awards one by one.

1. Civilian awards

Civilian awards were instituted by the Government of India in the year 1954. It is bestowed by the president of India on Republic Day for individuals’ remarkable service/performance in various fields. Based on the degree of the honour, civilian awards are categorised as

  • Bharat Ratna
  • Padma Vibhushan
  • Padma Bhushan
  • Padma Shri

Bharat Ratna

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award conferred for outstanding contributions to science, literature, arts, public services, and many more. Sports were not in the award category initially, but it was included in 2013. The president of India receives recommendations for Bharat Ratna from the prime minister of India.

Bharat Ratna is not only given to Indians; non-Indians have also been awarded with it. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King are some non-indians who were conferred with this award. A maximum of three people are awarded with Bharat Ratna in a year. The only year in which four people were awarded Bharat Ratna was 1999. C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and C. V. Raman were the first three recipients of the Bharat Ratna. 

Padma Vibhushan 

Padma Vibhushan is the second-highest civilian honour award after the Bharat Ratna. It is awarded for distinguished services in the fields of arts, literature, science and public affairs. And anyone is eligible for it, regardless of caste, creed, colour, sex and race. However, people working in the government sector and PSUs are not eligible for it. The award is recommended by the Padma Vibhushan committee, constituted by the prime minister of India. The first people to be honoured with this award are Satyendra Nath Bose, Zakir Hussain, V. K Krishna Menon, Balasaheb Gangadhar Kher, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Nand Lal Bose.

Padma Bhushan

Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award after Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan. It is conferred to individuals for exceptional service in any field, including doctors, scientists and people in the government sector. State governments, union territory governments, the Ministry of Government of India, the Padma Vibhushan committee and many other committees and private individuals recommend the award recipients' names to the prime minister and the president of India.

Padma Shri

The fourth highest civilian award after Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan is Padma Shri. This award is conferred to honour individuals’ extraordinary work in arts, education, acting, science, medicine and public affairs. The public can nominate/recommend people for the Padma Shri on the Rashtriya Puraskar portal. After reviewing the nominations from public and government bodies, an expert committee sends the recommendations to the president of India.

2. Gallantry awards

Gallantry awards were instituted by the government of India to honour the bravery and sacrifice of armed forces and other forces constituted by the government. Based on the situation in which gallantry occurs, these awards are categorised into two categories.

Gallantry in the face of the enemy comprises the following awards.

Param Vir chakra

Mahavir chakra

Vir chakra

Gallantry, other than the face of the enemy, comprises the following awards.

Ashok chakra

Kirti chakra

Shaurya chakra

On January 26th 1950, the first three gallantry awards- Param Vir Chakra, Mahavir Chakra, and Vir Chakra were instituted. The next three gallantry awards, Ashok chakra, Ashok chakra class I and Ashok chakra class II, were instituted on January 4th 1952. However, these awards were renamed Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra in 1967.

Param Vir chakra

Param Vir Chakra is the highest military honour awarded to those members of the armed forces who display exemplary courage and bravery in the presence of the enemy. The design of the award is inspired by the sage Dadhichi, who gave up his life to help gods make up a weapon that can kill demons. The physical award is made of bronze and contains the national emblem of India- the Ashok chakra in the front with four Indra vajra. Param Vir Chakra is embossed in both English and Hindi on the backside.

Mahavir Chakra

Mahavir Chakra, the second highest military honour after Param Vir Chakra, is conferred for showing bravery when facing the enemy. Most Mahavir chakras were awarded in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. The physical medal is made up of silver and contains a star within the national emblem. Mahavir Chakra is embossed in both Hindi and English on the back side of the award.

Vir Chakra

Vir Chakra is the third highest military honour after Param Vir Chakra and Mahavir Chakra. Men and women of any rank in the army and other reserve forces are eligible to receive the award. The medal is made up of silver and contains a star whose ends touch the end of the rim.

Ashoka Chakra

Ashoka Chakra is conferred to those military personnel or civilians who show acts of bravery or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield. It is the highest gallantry award during peacetime. The first recipients of the Ashoka Chakra were Havildar Bachittar Singh and Naik Narbahadur Thapa. At the front, it contains a chakra at the centre and ornate edges. Ashoka Chakra is embossed in Hindi and English on the backside.

Kirti Chakra 

Kirti Chakra is awarded for bravery and sacrifice in life-threatening situations and ranks below Ashoka Chakra. The front and the back side are similar to the Ashoka Chakra. Kirti Chakra is equivalent to Mahavir Chakra during peacetime and comes between Ashoka Chakra and Shuarya Chakra.

Shaurya Chakra

Shaurya chakra is awarded for bravery and sacrifice and ranks below the Ashoka and Kirti Chakra. It is made up of bronze and contains a green ribbon divided into four equal parts. 

Some other distinguished awards are the Jnanpith Award (Literature work), Arjuna Award (sports), Sahitya Akademi Award (poetry, fiction and literary criticism), Dadasaheb Phalke Award, and national film awards. 

Should schools educate students on India’s distinguished awards?

It can be valuable for the best school in Nalagarh to teach students about India’s distinguished awards for the following reasons.

1. National pride- The hard work and determination of the citizens of India will help infuse national pride in students. This will motivate them to contribute towards the welfare and development of the country.

2. Awareness of different fields- Awards are conferred in different fields, such as literature, sports, science and many more. Therefore, knowing about these awards can help students learn about different career opportunities which they may pursue in the future.

3. Embracing diversity- India gives awards in a multitude of fields, which displays country recognition, appreciation and honour towards a diverse range of fields. So, knowing about these awards can help students understand the importance of diversity.

The bottom line

At last, India’s distinguished awards testify to her unique culture and diversity. These awards celebrate the excellence of individuals in different fields and highlight the significance of their contributions. Educating students on India’s distinguished awards will  give them a broader perspective of their country and inspire them to contribute towards their nation.