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Awards and Decorations

Attached to a colorful ribbon, a medal, short of the symbol or motif it bears, is a piece of metal. Due thought seems to have been given to this aspect when the gallantry awards were instituted. The superb choice of Vajra (thunderbolt) to serve as the motif for the Param Vir Chakra amply proves this. Great mythology surrounds this mysterious weapon of Vedic origin. It was the Amogha Astra (unfailing weapon) used by Indra to kill vitra, the demon of drought, to release lifegiving waters for the benefit of mankind. In Puranic literature it is said that this Vajra was made out the the Asthis (bones) of Dadhici, a sage of high attainments, for the benefit of the word.

The choice of star as a symbol for the Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra as also for Vishisht Seva Medal series is again meaningful. The star, a heavenly body known for its firm, steady and fixed position, symbolically denotes everlasting glory. In Indian mythology, Dhruva, the son of King Uttanapada and Queen Suniti, was given a place in northern horizon by Lord Vishnu in appreciation of his firm determination and supreme effort. The polar star is therefore, called Dhruva Tara in Indian mythology.

Another widely used motif on Indian medals is the Ashoka Chakra. This is a twenty-four-spoked wheel occurring on the National Flag and the Ashoka Chakra series of medals. This wheel generally symbolised a sense of activity and forward movement. In 4th century BC, the Buddhists adopted this symbol in the service of religion, calling it the Dharma Chakra. The preaching of the gospel by Lord Buddha was denoted with the Chakra (wheel) symbol and the act was called Dharma Chakra Parvartana.

The Ashokan Lions form the obverse or the reverse device in most of the medals. This motif when represented along with the motto 'Satyameva Jayate' represents the National Emblem. Three lions facing the four directions are again Buddhist in significance. They symbolise the universal application of the Dharma comprehending all the four directions i.e. east, west, north and south. In respect of medals, the symbol represents service of a very high order.

Ribbons are integral to the scheme of medals and decorations. In fact, ribbons when worn on the chest by a soldier adequately convey stories of heroism associated with him. It is notable that all ribbons are intended to convey some motif or symbol by means of colours.

A ribbon, generally speaking, is a combination of meaningful colour imprinted on silk, Saffron, green, blue, red and white are the most commonly used colours in the Indian ribbons. Of these red stands for courage and bravery, saffron for self-effacement and dedicated service; green for growth and auspiciousness; white for glory and purity and blue for devotion and sacrifice. Occasionally red symbolises the Indian Army, dark blue the Indian Navy and sky blue the Indian Air Force. Stripes on ribbons generally denote the class of the award. The ribbons are worn by the awardees on their left breast in a specified sequence, the position and priority being the centre of the chest.

Court Mounted is where the ribbon appears down the rear of the medal and is mounted to a hard backing. The medals are then securely attached to this backing to prevent movement and so dramatically reduce the chance of damage when worn. This method improves the overall appearance of the medals. This is the current way that many military forces present medals for display and ceremonial purposes.

Swing Mounted is where medals are sewn to a pin brooch and can be pinned to your uniform or other clothing. The problem with this style of mounting is that if there is more than one medal they will swing about and bump into each other causing tiny marks on the medals. This is the traditional method of presentation up to the 50/60's. This method is how current medals are issued from the government before they are court mounted.

In India there also exists the custom of granting 'Battle Honours','Theatre Honours', and 'Honour titles' to various Army units for distinguished performance on the battlefield. In India, the practice came into vogue in the nineteenth century. The recipient regiments display a selected number of battle honours on their colours, standards and kettle drums. These emblazoned battle honours present an epitome of the history of the regiment.


For the purpose of classification, Indian honors and awards can be divided into two categories : Gallantry awards and Non-gallantry awards. The gallantry awards are again divisible into two categories: Those for gallantry in the face of the enemy. Those for gallantry other than in the face of the enemy. The first category of the gallantry awards comprises : 1. Param Vir Chakra 2. Maha Vir Chakra 3. Vir Chakra 4. Sena, Nao Sena and Vayu Sena Medal 5. Mention in Dispatches 6. Chiefs of Staff Commendation Card The second category of the gallantry awards comprise the following : 1. Ashoka Chakra 2. Kirti Chakra 3. Shaurya Chakra These were originally named Ashoka Chakra Class I, Class II, Class III

No. 75-Pres/2001 - The President has been pleased to determine the following order of Precedence of Wearing of various Medals and Decorations. This supersedes Notification No. 104-Pres/98 dated 11 November 1998 issued from this Secretariat:

Bharat Ratna President's Police and Fire Services Medal for Gallantry
Param Vir Chakra President's Police Medal for Gallantry
Maha Vir Chakra President's Fire Services Medal for Gallantry
Padma Vibhusan President's Correctional Service Medal for Gallantry
Padma Bhushan President's Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for Gallantry
Yudh Seva Medal Sena /Nao Sena/Vayu Sena Medal
Sarvattom Yudh Seva Medal Correctional Service Medal for Gallantry
Param Vishisht Seva Medal Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for Gallantry
Ashoka Chakra Fire Services Medal for Gallantry
Kirti Chakra  Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak
Padma Shri General Service Medal - 1947
Sarvottom Jeevan Raksha Padak Samanya Seva Medal - 1965
Uttam Yudh Seva Medal Police Medal for Gallantry
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal Commonwealth Awards
Vir Chakra Police (Special Duty) Medal - 1962
Shaurya Chakra President's Police Medal for Distinguished Service
Vishisht Seva Medal President's Fire Services Medal for Distinguished Service
Special Service Medal President's Correctional Service Medal for Distinguished Service
Parakram Padak Long Service and Good Conduct Medal
OP Vijay Star Medal Police Medal for Meritorious Service
Samar Seva Star-1965 Fire Services Medal for Meritorious Service
Poorvi Star Correction Service Medal for Meritorious Service
Paschimi Star Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for Meritorious Service
OP Parakram Medal Indian Independence Medal-1947
Sainya Seva Medal 50th Anniversary of Independence Medal
High Altitude Medal 25th Independence Anniversary Medal
Videsh Seva Medal 30 Years Long Service Medal
Siachen Glacier Medal 20 Years Long Service Medal
Raksha Medal - 1965 9 Years Long Service Medal
Sangram Meda President's Police and Fire Services Medal for Distinguished Service
OP Vijay Medal President's Home Guards and Civil Defence for Distinguished Service
Meritorious Service Medal  
Jeevan Raksha Padak  
Territorial Army Decoration  
Territorial Army Medal  
Independence Medal - 1950  
Other Awards  

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:37:16 ZULU