Honouring Heroes On Republic Day

By Kudrat Sekhon

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Republic Day celebrations are one of its kind in India. It’s a mark of respect for the Constitution of independent India and the values and credo adopted by our nation. Indians celebrate taking back the sovereignty of their own country on this day. Without the valiant sacrifices of people who valued this country and its people above their own lives, real independence from colonial authority would not have been possible.

In Delhi, on this day, the parade is conducted by the President and arranged by the Defence ministry. The Prime Minister pays floral tribute in the form of wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate in memory of the martyrs.

With the Constitution coming into effect on this day in 1950, India found its own identity. The country moved on from becoming a colony to an independent entity for whom a period of immense struggle lay ahead. The essence of awarding people on this day is that their struggles, endurance and consistency have been recognised, their hard work has been acknowledged, and their success is being celebrated.

The Prime Minister honours courageous citizens, young people and service personnel who perform acts of exceptional bravery, along with highly accomplished people in a variety of disciplines for their contribution to make India known on the global map.

A varied category of awards and honours are bestowed by the Government in the lead up to this day. This article is a humble attempt to throw light on all of them.

Republic Day awards and honours include:

Padma awards: These award winners are announced on the eve of Republic Day and felicitated in March or April. These were instituted in 1954. There are 3 main types of Padma awards.

  • Padma Bhushan: Awarded for distinguished service of higher order.
  • Padma Vibhushan: Awarded for exceptional and distinguished service. and
  • Padma Shri: Awarded for distinguished service.

The decision is made by the award committee constituted by the Prime Minister and headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President, and 4-6 eminent personalities. The recommendations are made by the PM to the President.

Awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President, a medallion along with a replica to the awardees.

Gallantry Awards

These awards are bestowed upon law enforcement officers who protect life and property, help in averting crime or arrest criminals.

The highest military honour given for acts of bravery and gallantry is the Param Vir Chakra. The Maha Vir Chakra is the next highest, followed by the Ashoka Chakra. On January 26, 1950, the Indian government established these awards. They are given out twice a year, on Republic Day and Independence Day respectively. The Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, and Shaurya Chakra are more honours in the same category.

Medals and ribbons are presented to the award winners.

President’s Police Medals also known as President’s Police and Fire Service Medal: These awards are conferred to members of law enforcement for meritorious, distinguished and gallant service. These awards were instituted in 1951. The awardees are conferred with a ribbon and a medal which is 35 mm wide, dark blue with silver edges and a broad central stripe of crimson.

Bal Puraskar: Originally called the National Child Award, Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar are conferred upon brave children between the age of 5-18 for their brilliant performance in fields like sports, innovation, social service, scholastic, arts and science, and bravery. It is conferred in the week preceding January 26. The award has 2 categories:

  • Bal Shakti Puraskar
  • Bal Kalyan Puraskar

The awardee is presented with a medal, a cash prize, and a certificate.

Civilian Lifesaving Award: Instituted in 1961, these awards are meant to honour ordinary citizens who perform extraordinarily in times of stress. There are 3 categories of this award, namely, Sarvottam Jeevan Rakshak Padak; Uttam Jeevan Rakshak Padak, and Jeevan Rakshak Padak.

The rewards include a ribbon with blue edges and thin green stripes, and a cash prize ranging from Rs. 2,00,000 to Rs 1,00,000.

Other awards like President’s medal for Home Guard and Civil Defence and Correctional Service Medal are also presented to honour meritorious acts of gallantry as well as courage and are also presented on Independence Day.

The government recognises deserving citizens of all ages based on their talent and labour.

Recognition and appreciation are strong motivators that boost morale and serve as an example for others. Awards are a symbol of appreciation for the work done and the hardships one faces in order to succeed. Such accolades inspire a person to be a good and responsible citizen of the country and motivate others to achieve in their chosen fields.

It is indeed befitting that these brave sons and daughters are awarded for their contributions to the nation when all are celebrating the spirit of nationalism.

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