Param Vir Chakra

Param Vir Chakra
Param-vir-chakra-medal.png

Param-Vir-Chakra-ribbon.svg
Param Vir Chakra and its ribbon, the highest military decoration of India
Awarded by Republic of India
Country India
Type Military award
Eligibility
  • Officers, 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 Armed Forces. [1]
  • Matrons, Sisters, Nurses and the staff of the Nursing Services and other Service pertaining to Hospitals and Nursing, and Civilians of either sex serving regularly or temporarily under the orders, directions or supervision of any of the above-mentioned Forces. [1]
Awarded for Most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea, or in the air. [1]
Status Currently awarded
Post-nominals PVC
Statistics
Established 26 January 1950
First awarded 3 November 1947 [a]
Last awarded 6 July 1999
Total awarded 21
Posthumous
awards
14
Distinct
recipients
21
Precedence
Next (higher) Bharat Ratna [3] [4]
Next (lower) Ashoka Chakra [b] [4] [3]

The Param Vir Chakra (PVC) is India's top military decoration awarded for the highest degree of valour or self–sacrifice in the presence of the enemy.

Literally meaning "Wheel of the Ultimate Brave", [6] it is similar to the Medal of Honor in the United States and the Victoria Cross in the United Kingdom. [7] [8]

The Ashoka Chakra is the peacetime equivalent of the Param Vir Chakra, and is awarded for the "most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice" other than in the face of the enemy. Unlike the Param Vir Chakra, which is awarded only to military personnel, the Ashok Chakra decoration may be awarded either to military or civilian personnel. Similarly to the PVC, it can be awarded posthumously. [5]

A number of central and state governments and ministries of India also provide several allowances and rewards to recipients of the PVC (or his family members in case of the recipient's death.).

History

The PVC was established on 26 January 1950 ( Republic Day of India), by the President of India, with effect from 15 August 1947 ( Independence Day of India). [2] [6] It can be awarded to officers or enlisted personnel from all branches of the Indian military. [9] Provision was made in the event an individual was awarded the PVC twice. In this were to occur, they would receive a bar and a replica of the vajra (club), the weapon of Indra, the god of heaven. [6] To date, the award has not been conferred twice. It also carries with it the right to use "PVC" as a post-nominal abbreviation. [2]

Design

The medal was designed by Savitri Khanolkar, the wife of an Indian Army officer, Vikram Khanolkar of the Sikh Regiment. [10] This was done following a request from the first Indian adjutant general of India, Major General Hira Lal Atal, who had in turn been entrusted with the responsibility of coming up with an Indian equivalent of the Victoria Cross by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of the Indian Union. Coincidentally, the first Param Vir Chakra was awarded to her son-in-law Lt. Gen. Surinder Nath Sharma's elder brother, Major Somnath Sharma, for his bravery in the Kashmir operations in November 1947.

The medal is a circular bronze disc 1.375 inches (3.49 cm) in diameter. On the front, the state emblem appears in the center on a raised circle surrounded by four copies of the vajra, the mythical weapon of Indra, the ancient Vedic King of Gods. The motif symbolizes the sacrifice of Rishi Dadhichi, who gave his bones to the Gods to make the vajra to kill the demon Vritra. The medal is suspended from a straight swiveling suspension bar. On the rear, around a plain center, are two legends separated by lotus flowers. The words Param Vir Chakra are written in Hindi and English. [8] [11] A purple ribbon, 32 millimetres (1.3 in) long, holds the Param Vir Chakra. [8]