In our country, gallantry awards are given to the military personnel who showed extreme courage and bravery and did not care for their own lives in front of the enemy. As a result, many lost their lives in attempt to serve their nation. Therefore, if the person is not alive, the award is given to his relative. After the independence of India, the government on 26 January 1950 instituted first three gallantry awards by the name Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra. After these three awards, three more gallantry awards were added in the list of gallantry awards. These were named as Ashoka Chakra Class-I, Ashoka Chakra Class-II and Ashoka Chakra Class-III. The awards came into effect on 4 January 1952. However, were renamed as Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra respectively in January 1967.
Getting these awards is a matter of pride for any officer of Indian Armed Forces. The awards are announced twice in a year at the occasion of Republic Day and Independence Day. The precedence order is Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra and Shaurya Chakra.
War Time Gallantry Awards
- Param Vir Chakra: It is the highest gallantry award for military personnel of Indian Armed Forces. The award was introduced on 26 January 1950 and may be given posthumously because the soldier might have lost his life in the battle. The award is given for extreme act of selflessness and courage while fighting from enemies. According to Sanskrit language, ‘Param’ means Ultimate, ‘Vir’ means Brave and ‘Chakra’ is a word for wheel.
- Maha Vir Chakra: The Maha Vir Chakra is the second highest military decoration in India. It is awarded for the act of bravery against enemy in a combat whether at land, sea or air. This award also can be given to the officer posthumously. In the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, where India forced Pakistan to surrender, most Maha Vir Chakras were awarded in a single conflict where Indian Air Force received eleven of those.
- Vir Chakra: Vir Chakra is awarded for the act of bravery in the battlefield. It comes third at precedence order after the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra in the list of war time gallantry awards. This award can be given after the death of the personnel similar to above two awards.
Peace Time Awards
- Ashok Chakra: This award comes under the category of peacetime gallantry awards and can be given to any civilian or military person. This award is equivalent to Param Vir Chakra. The person is awarded for any courageous, and bravery act or valour of sacrifice other than facing an enemy. Like other awards, Ashok Chakra also can be given after the death of original person. Similarly, this award is given on the Republic Day and Independence Day.
- Kirti Chakra: Kirti Chakra is equivalent to Maha Vir Chakra award of war time gallantry awards. This is the second in order of precedence of peacetime gallantry awards. Like Ashok Chakra, any military personnel or a civilian for their act of courage in or away from battlefield can receive this award. The award can be given posthumously.
- Shaurya Chakra: Shaurya Chakra is a peacetime gallantry award equivalent to Vir Chakra. It is an Indian military decoration award for courageous action or an act of self-sacrifice while not in direct action of combat against enemy. The award may be given to civilian or military personnel after the death. Shaurya Chakra is generally awarded for the Counter-insurgency operations and peacetime operations.