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Kirti Chakra: All You Should Know About India’s Second-Highest Peacetime Award

Pranab Mukherjee awarding Kirti Chakra.(Source- Para Army's official Twitter Account)
President Pranab Mukherjee awarding the Kirti Chakra to Major Rohit Suri on 20 March 2017. (Source- Twitter)

Other Military Honours

Kirti Chakra: All You Should Know About India’s Second-Highest Peacetime Award

The Kirti Chakra follows the Ashok Chakra when it comes to peacetime military honours.

Coming second in precedence in the peacetime awards category, Kirti Chakra is a military decoration awarded by the Government of India for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the field of battle.

The award, instituted in January 1952 with effect from 15 August 1947, comes after the Ashok Chakra and before the Shaurya Chakra.

Known as the Ashok Chakra, Class II,prior to 1967,this is awarded to civilians as well as military personnel, including posthumous awards. It can be treated as the peacetime equivalent of the Maha Vir Chakra.

Kirti Chakra Awardees

The Kirti Chakra has been awarded to a total of 478 personnel till 2017.

One of the recipients of the Kirti Chakra in 2017 was Major Rohit Suri of 4 Para (Special Forces), who led the Indian Army’s cross-border surgical strike against Pakistan on the night of 28-29 September 2016.

Col N. J. Nair, 16 MLI, has been, till date, the only one soldier who has been awarded both the Kirti Chakra and the Ashok Chakra, making him the most decorated soldier in India.

In 1983, in Mizoram, Col Nair engaged the insurgents in close quarter combat and he was awarded the Kirti Chakra in recognition of his exceptional gallantry. In 1993, 16 Maratha Light Infantry was deployed in Nagaland.

On 20 December 1993, while heading an advance party of the battalion, his convoy was ambushed by Naga rebels. Col NJ Nair displayed indomitable courage in leading the attack personally to break the ambush and sacrificed his life defending his men. For this supreme act of valour, he was conferred the Ashoka Chakra, posthumously.

The first Indian Air Force (IAF) officer to receive the honour was Flt. Lt. Ulrich Anthony D’Cruz. While carrying out an offensive reconnaissance over the Akhnur-Bhimber area in Jammu and Kashmir, he was shot down and captured by Pathan tribesmen on 1 December 1947. He remained a prisoner with the tribesmen and later with the Pakistan Army, until December, 1948.

He was then returned to India under a scheme for the exchange of prisoners of war. Neither the beating nor the death threats could undermine his loyalty to his country or his service; he went on to become an example for his fellow officers.

Kirti Chakra Design

The current design of the medal is as follows.

Kirti Chakra (Source- Gallantry Awards, Government of India)

Kirti Chakra (Source- Gallantry Awards, Government of India)

The medal is circular in shape and of standard silver, one and three-eighth inches in diameter, with rims on both sides. On the obverse side of the medal, a replica of Ashoka’s Chakra is embossed in the centre, surrounded by a lotus wreath. Along the rim, on the inner side, there is a pattern of lotus leaves, flowers and buds.

On its reverse side,the words “KIRTI CHAKRA” are embossed both in Hindi and English, the two versions being separated by two lotus flowers.

The ribbon is green in colour which is divided into three equal parts by two orange vertical lines.

If an awardee performs an act of bravery to make him or her eligible to receive another Ashoka Chakra, the act of bravery is recorded by a bar attached to the riband by which the medal is suspended. An additional bar is awarded for every such additional act of bravery.

Kirti Chakra Guidelines

The Government of India sets clear guidelines of the persons who will be eligible for this award.

  • 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.
  • Members of the Nursing Services of the Armed Forces.
  • Civilian citizens of either sex in all walks of life and members of Police Forces including Central Para-Military Forces and Railway Protection Force.

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