India’s third highest peacetime military decoration, the Shaurya Chakra, is awarded to both military personnel and civilians. It is the peacetime equivalent of the Vir Chakra. It is generally awarded for counter-insurgency operations and actions against the enemy during peace-time.
The Shaurya Chakra is awarded on Republic Day and Independence Day.
Shaurya Chakra Awardees
On 26 January 2017, five of the officers, among several, who participated in the surgical strike against Pakistan on 29 September 2016 were awarded the Shaurya Chakra. These included Major Rajat Chandra, Major Deepak Kumar Upadhyaya, Captain Ashutosh Kumar, Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar and Paratrooper Abdul Qayum.
The first Indian Air Force (IAF) officer to receive this prestige was Flt Lt Brian Joseph Cannell. The honour was announced in September 1956, for the events on 27 November 1955. He saved the life of Lt. B. Ahuja by transferring him to a hospital which was only possible through air travel because of the primitive surface communications in that area of Mechukha.
The only available stretch of open ground was a narrow, rough and undulating clearing of approximately 80 yards lying deep in a valley. It was obvious that a landing at this place would be fraught with danger but Flt. Lt. Brian Joseph Cannel had no hesitation in volunteering for this hazardous task.
On the 70th Independence Day, Lt Col Niranjan EK of the National Security Guards (NSG), who was martyred during the operations in Pathankot, was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.
A total of 33 Shaurya Chakras were awarded in 2017 and 25 of them were awarded in 2016.
Shaurya Chakra Origins
In January 1952, the Government of India established Shaurya Chakra as the “Ashoka Chakra Class-III” which was later renamed in January 1967. It came into effect from 15 August 1947.
In 1952, 19 Shaurya Chakra were awarded out of which 7 were awarded for “an act of gallantry in Hyderabad-Police Action 1948” and 11 were awarded for “an act of gallantry during the Civil Disturbances 1947”. Two years after, in 1954 it was only awarded to Lalita Mukand for saving the life of a drowning girl while risking her own life.
Till 2017, a total of 2,068 Shaurya Chakra medals have been awarded.
Shaurya Chakra Design
The gold-gilded medal is circular in shape, one-and-three-eighth inches in diameter and has rims on both sides.
On the obverse, the medal 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.
The reverse side of the medal has Shaurya Chakra written in Hindi and English separated by two lotus flowers and a blank centre. The ribbon is 30 mm wide with a Green colour ribbon divided into four equal parts by three Orange 2 mm vertical lines.
Shaurya Chakra Eligibility
The Government of India has clear eligibility criteria for the award. The following categories of persons are eligible:
* Officers and 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 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.