Army Day Special: An Introduction on Gallantry Awards
In India, the Army Day is observed each year on 15 January. The event was started with the aim of honoring Kodandera Madappa (KM) Cariappa, the Lieutenant General of India. Incidentally, Officer Cariappa was also the first ever Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. The event is observed each year at the headquarters of the Army Command. Celebrations are held at New Delhi as well and prominent parts of the celebration are the various military shows. This year, it is going to be the 70th edition of the Army Day.
The significance of Army Day
The Indian Army Day is celebrated now with the aim of saluting and paying homage to the brave soldiers of India who have laid down their lives in service of their motherland. The day is important as an Indian officer, KM Cariappa, succeeded Roy Butcher, a General of the British Army, as the first Commander-in-Chief of Indian Army. Over the years, the soldiers of India have always been ready to answer the call of the country, be it natural disasters or when the security of the country is at risk.
How is it celebrated?
Celebrations of this day normally start by paying tribute to the fallen soldiers of India at Amar Jawan Jyoti in the India Gate, New Delhi. Once the homage has been paid the soldiers organize parades and military shows. These parades and shows demonstrate the kind of advancements that the army has made in areas such as technology and armament. Bravery awards such as Sena medals and Unit credentials are awarded on this day.
Indian military gallantry awards
The gallantry awards presented to the soldiers of India may be divided into two main categories – War Time Gallantry Awards and Peace Time Gallantry Awards.
1. War Time Gallantry Awards- These awards are given to the people serving in the Indian Armed forces for their distinguished services during the war on the battlefield. It is to appreciate the efforts of the soldiers for the courage which they have displayed while fighting battles and facing enemies.
Param Vir Chakra- Param Vir Chakra is regarded as the highest War-time gallantry award. It is awarded to the officers or the listed personnel of the Indian Armed Forces. The award was started on 26th January 1950 to praise the bravery and valour shown by a soldier on the battlefield while facing the enemy. Till date, 20 soldiers from the Army and 1 from the Navy have received the Param Vir Chakra.
Maha Vir Chakra- It is the second highest War-time military decoration offered to the soldiers of the Indian Armed forces. The award is given to the soldiers who show exceptional courage, selflessness, and valour while facing the enemy. More than 155 MVC’s have been awarded since the inception of this award.
Vir Chakra- Vir Chakra is awarded to recognize the courage and valour of a soldier in the battlefield whether in the air, water or on the ground. This award is third in preference after the Param Vir Chakra and the Vir Chakra.
2. Peace Time Gallantry Awards- These awards are presented for the “most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice”. The Peace Time Gallantry Awards are conferred for showing courage when there is no war as such and soldiers are away from the battlefield.
Ashoka Chakra- It is the highest decoration under the category of Peace Time Gallantry Awards. It has equal significance as that of Param Vir Chakra. The only difference is, this award is presented to recognise the contribution of soldiers away from the battlefield. Till date, there have been 58 recipients of this award.
Kirti Chakra- Kirti Chakra is the peacetime equivalent to Maha Vir Chakra. This award is normally presented for bravery shown during work such as counterinsurgency operations.
Shaurya Chakra- Shaurya Chakra is the peacetime equivalent of Vir Chakra. Earlier before 1967, the award was known as “Ashoka Chakra Part 3”. This award is also given to the soldiers or police officers for their supreme bravery away from the battlefield.
All these awards can be presented posthumously too.