Mahesh Chander Sudan
We, the people of India, are going to witness Republic Day celebration to honor the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 Jan 1950 replacing the Government of India Act as the governing document of India and thus turning the nation into a newly formed Republic.
The main celebration is held in New Delhi at Raj path before the President of India in the form of a ceremonious parades performed as a tribute to India; its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage. The parade showcases India’s Defense capability, cultural and social heritage. The parade composed of contingents from Army, Navy and Airforce along with paramilitary forces remains the main attraction of the Republic Day celebrations and this event lasts for three days with Beating Retreat ceremony to officially denote the end of Republic Day festivities. The Beating Retreat function is held at Vijay Chowk where the President of Indian Republic arrives escorted by the President Body Guards (PBGs), a Cavalry Unit and bands of three wings of the Indian Military perform. Another important event during Republic Day festivities is honoring awardees/NOKs of Civil and Military Gallantry awards.
Post-Independence, first three gallantry awards namely the ParamVir Chakra, the MahaVir Chakra and theVir Chakra were instituted by Government of India on 26th January, 1950 with retro respective effect from15th Aug 1947. Thereafter, other three gallantry awards namely Ashok Chakra I, II and III were instituted on 4th January 1952, which were deemed to have effect from 15 Aug 1947. These awards were renamed as the Ashoka Chakra, the Kirti Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra respectively in January 1967. These gallantry awards are announced twice a year – first on the occasion of Republic Day and then on the occasion of Independence Day. The order of precedence of these awards is the ParamVir Chakra, the Ashok Chakra, the Mahavir Chakra, the Kirti Chakra, the Vir Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra. Gallantry awards are conferred to awardees/Next of Kins (NOKs) by the President at the Defence Investiture ceremony held every yearin the Rashtrapati Bhawan. However, the Param Vir Chakra and the Ashoka Chakra are conferred by the President to the awardees/NOKs on the occasion of the Republic Day Parade at the Rajpath.
Classification of awards
Gallantry awards are classified into two categories i.e Gallantry in the Face of Enemy and Gallantry other than in the Face of enemy. The ParamVir Chakra, the MahaVir Chakra and the Vir Chakra fall in the first category and the Ashoka Chakra, the Kirti Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra in the second category. As regards the eligibility, all officers, men and women of all ranks of the Naval, Military and Air Forces, of any of the Reserve Forces, of the Territorial Army, Militia and of any other lawfully constituted Armed Forces. Matrons, sisters, Nurses and the staff of the Nursing services and other services pertaining to Hospitals and Nursing and Civilians of either sex serving regularly or temporarily under the orders, directions or supervisions of any of the above-mentioned Forces.
The ParamVir Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, in the presence of enemy, whether on land, at sea or in the Air. The MahaVirChakra is awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the presence of enemy whether on land, at sea or in the air. The Vir Chakra is awarded for acts of gallantry in the presence of the enemy, whether on land or at sea or in the air. As regards other three gallantry awards, the following categories of persons shall be eligible:-
a) Officers and men and women of all ranks of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, of any of the Reserve Forces, of the Territorial Army, Militia and of any other lawfully constituted forces.
b) Members of the Nursing Services of the Armed Forces.
c) Civilian citizens of either sex in all walks of life and members of Police Forces including Central Para-Military forces and Railway protection Forces.
The Ashoka Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some act of daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice otherwise than in the face of enemy. The Kirti Chakra is awarded for conspicuous gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy. The Shaurya Chakra is awarded for gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy. All these gallantry awards may be awarded posthumously. We, the people of India, are indebted to indomitable courage and bravery of these brave hearts who undertake such gallantry acts even at the peril of their lives in most difficult and trying conditions to safeguard their motherland.
The author is WgCdr (Retd)
Mahesh Chander Sudan