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List Of National Awards In India

Recognitions are symbols of acknowledging excellence. They act as motivators to strive towards perfection. The Indian Constitution's fundamental duty urges its citizens to achieve better outcomes in every field for the development of society. A rewarding system is necessary to honour such brilliance. The Bharat Ratna and Padma Awards are the epitome of excellence in India. Every year on Republic Day India honours individuals who have made the world proud through their efforts. The highest civilian honours in India, the Bharat Ratna and Padma Awards, do not come with any monetary benefits, indicating that they are beyond any monetary evaluation. Monetary valuation would limit the significance of such recognition.

There is a saying that encourages one to work without expecting recognition. However, appreciation and acclaim also bring attention. National-level awards carry immense prestige, dignity, and honour. Awardees receive global recognition, and their work in any field receives due respect and attention. The awards, bestowed by the honourable President of India, grace the occasion.  

What Does National Awards Mean? 

The national accolades in India are conferred by the Indian Government to individuals who exhibit outstanding service or achievement in various domains, regardless of their age, social status, profession, religion, and so forth. These distinctions are classified into several groups, such as Civilian Honors, Bravery Honours, Athletic Honours, Literary Honors, and Peace and Leadership Honors. 

How Many Types Of National Awards In India?

  • Bharat Ratna- The Bharat Ratna is considered to be the most esteemed civilian honour in India, bestowed upon individuals who have exhibited exceptional service or performance of the highest order in the fields of art, literature, science, and public service. Nonetheless, since December 2011, it has also been awarded for outstanding achievements in any field of human endeavour including sports. This expansion of the award's scope enabled Sachin Tendulkar to become the youngest and first sportsperson to receive the Bharat Ratna.

There is no formal process for proposing candidates for the Bharat Ratna. The Prime Minister of India has the authority to nominate and recommend individuals to the President of India, with a limit of three names per year, without any discrimination based on race, position, or occupation.  

On 2nd January 1954, Rajendra Prasad, the former Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the Bharat Ratna award. Initially, only living individuals were considered for this prestigious honour. However, it was later extended to posthumous recipients, and Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri became the first person to receive the Bharat Ratna award after his demise.   

The medal resembles a human leaf, crafted from toned bronze, with dimensions of 5.8 cm in length, 4.7 cm in width, and 3.3 mm in thickness. The obverse side of this medal showcases the words "Bharat Ratna" inscribed in the Hindi language using Devanagari script, along with an embossed sun image measuring 1.6 cm in diameter. The reverse side bears the state emblem and motto. The rim, sun, and emblem of India are made of platinum. The medal is worn around the neck and is attached to a two-inch ribbon when presented to the recipient. Here are people who received the award  

The first recipients of Bharat Ratna included a politician named  Rajagopalachari, a scientist called Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman, and a philosopher named Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.  

  • Padma Vibhushan- This award recognizes exceptional achievements or contributions in the fields of art, science, and public administration, encompassing the contributions made by public sector workers.  

This round-shaped accolade is crafted from bronze. It has a diameter of 4.4 cm and a thickness of 0.6 mm. The medal showcases a geometrical design. The upper portion of the front side bears the word Padma printed in devnagri script (Hindi), while the lower portion is adorned with the inscription "Vibhushan." In the centre, a lotus flower sits between these two words. The reverse side features the national emblem with the words "SatyaMeva Jayate" engraved upon it. The engravings, geometric design, and borders are made of bronze, while the remainder of the embossing is composed of white gold. A ribbon of a deep purple hue is affixed to the accolade, which is also worn around the neck.  Here are people who received the award  -  Satyendra Nath Bose , Sumati Morajee , Uday Shankar etc. 

  • Padma Bhushan- The Padma Bhushan is the third most prestigious accolade presented by the Indian Government to recognize outstanding contributions in any area. The Padma Bhusan award is crafted in a circular shape using bronze. The front face of the award bears the imprint of a lotus flower along with the words "Padma Bhusan" inscribed in Hindi. The back face showcases the national emblem and the phrase "Satyamev Jayate". The award is adorned with a purple ribbon that has white stripes. Burnished bronze is employed for crafting the words, geometric pattern, and the border, while the remaining part of the medal is made of yellow gold. Here are people who received the award -    Ghulam Nabi Azad , Victor Banerjee , Rashid Khan etc. 

  • Padma Shri- Finally, it is the fourth most distinguished accolade granted by the authorities to acknowledge exceptional contributions or outstanding achievements in any domain. 

The Padma medal stands out from its counterparts due to its unique geometrical design on both sides. The front of the medal showcases the phrase "Padma Shri" and a lotus flower, while the reverse side features the national emblem. The medal is worn around the neck and is accompanied by a white-grey striped purple ribbon.  Here are people who received the award  -  Dr. Sukama Acharya  , Usha Bare , Hemant Chuhan etc.  

  • Vir Chakra- It is the third most prestigious military honour bestowed upon troops and military personnel for exhibiting courage when confronting or battling the adversary on land, sea, or in the sky. Similar to other honours for bravery, the Vir Chakra has a circular appearance, measuring 1.4 inches in diameter. It is constructed from typical silver and possesses two surfaces akin to other awards. The obverse side features a five-pointed heraldic star and the national emblem with a motto at the centre, whereas the reverse side showcases the words "VIR CHAKRA" inscribed in Hindi and English, with a flower on either side. The medal is accompanied by a ribbon that is half-orange and blue in colour. Here are people who received the award  -  Major  Mariappan Saravanan  , Col Lalit Rai , Captain Sanjeev Jamwal.

  • Gallantry AwardsThe accolades in this category pertain to Indian soldiers. These honours are granted to Indian soldiers for their exceptional bravery, honour, fearlessness, and selflessness. Initially, there were only three medals of valour: Param Vir Chakra , Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra that were introduced by the government on 26 January 1950. Later, the Govt. of India introduced a few more medals of valour on 4 January 1952, which include Ashoka Chakra Class-I, Ashoka Chakra Class II, Ashoka Chakra III, however, In January 1967 these medals were renamed the Ashoka Chakra, the Kirti Chakra, and the Shaurya Chakra, respectively. 

  • Param Vir Chakra-  The highest honour for bravery during war is the Param Vir Chakra, which is bestowed upon a soldier who has demonstrated exceptional combat abilities and bravery on the battlefield. This accolade was established on January 26, 1950, and its name translates to "Circle of the Ultimate Brave."  

Savitri Bai Khanolankar created the Param Vir Chakra, which is constructed using bronze and shaped as a circular medal measuring 1.4 inches in diameter. The medal is suspended from a bar and features four replicas of Indra's Vajra on the front, enclosing the national emblem. The back of the medal is embossed with the words "PARAM VIR CHAKRA" in both Hindi and English, with a lotus flower on either side. The first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra was Major Somnath Sharma, who was awarded the medal posthumously for his courageous actions during the Kashmir battle in November 1947.  

  • Maha Vir Chakra-  This is the second most esteemed recognition for acts of bravery during wartime. It is granted to Indian soldiers and officers for their ardour and dauntlessness exhibited in confronting or battling the adversary in the war, regardless of whether on the ground, the ocean, or in the sky. The accolade is crafted using typical silver and is round in form with a dimension of 1.4 inches. The obverse side features a five-pointed emblematic star, while the convex central section bears the state emblem with the motto. The reverse side displays the words "MAHA VIR CHAKRA" inscribed in two languages, Hindi and English, with lotus flowers separating the Hindi and English words. The medal is accompanied by a ribbon, which is divided into halves of white and orange.

  • Vir Chakra Awards- It is the third most prestigious honour given to military personnel and officers for exhibiting courage during combat or confrontation with the adversary on land, water, or in the sky. Similar to other bravery honours, the VIR Chakra medal also possesses a rounded structure measuring 1.4 inches in diameter. The medal is fashioned out of regular silver and comprises two sides, akin to other accolades. The obverse side showcases a five-pointed emblematic star, the state emblem, and a maximum at the centre. The reverse side features the words "VIR CHAKRA" inscribed in Hindi and English, divided by a floral pattern on both sides. A ribbon accompanies the medal, which is split into blue and half-orange hues.  

  • Peace Time Gallantry Award- This classification of bravery honours is conferred upon Indian armed forces personnel for exhibiting courage or selflessness in situations outside of combat or away from the warzone, as the name implies. The awards are categorised as follows -   

Ashoka Chakra-  The highest honour for bravery during peacetime is bestowed upon a soldier or an army officer through the most esteemed award, recognized for their exceptional valour, bravery, and altruism beyond the warzone. Yet, a non-military individual may also qualify for this accolade if they exhibit selfless courage and sacrifice for the nation. 

The configuration of the Ashoka Chakra is extremely attractive. It takes the shape of a round figure with a diameter of 1.4 inches. The front side bears a duplicate of the Ashoka Chakra surrounded by a wreath of lotuses. On the reverse side, the words "Ashoka Chakra" are engraved in both English and Hindi languages, with a lotus flower engraved on each side in between them.

Kirti Chakra- This medal is the second-most prestigious recognition for bravery, valour, and selflessness given to a military member during times of peace. It is also open for nomination to non-military individuals.  

The award has a circular shape with a diameter of 1.38 inches and is crafted from silver. Both sides of the award have rims, with the front side featuring a replica of the Ashoka Chakra surrounded by a lotus wreath. On the backside, the words  Kirti Chakra are engraved in both English and Hindi, with a lotus flower embellishing each side. The award is accompanied by a green ribbon that is 3.2 cm wide and is divided into three equal parts by two vertical orange lines. Similar to other medals, it is worn on the left side of the body. 

Shaurya Chakra- This is the third highest esteemed award for non-wartime bravery or selflessness that can be granted to either a military member or a civilian, whether on or off the battlefield. 

 The object is round in structure and measures 1.4 cm across. It comprises bronze material and displays a front side resembling the Ashoka Chakra. The rear side bears the words Shaurya Chakra in both Hindi and English, separated by depictions of lotus flowers. It is customary to wear this item on the left chest area, as it comes equipped with a ribbon that is 3.2 cm in width. The ribbon is divided into four equal sections by three vertical lines in the colour orange. 

National Sports Awards- These accolades are bestowed upon athletes for their exceptional achievements and excellence in sports, as their title implies. The Indian government bestows these awards at the national level every year. 

The most distinguished national sports awards are delineated below-

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award-   The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the most esteemed national sports accolade that a sports person can receive from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India. It is named after the late Prime Minister of India, Sh. Rajiv Gandhi  in tribute to him. Its establishment in 1991 was aimed at recognizing and enhancing the morale of sportspersons in India. The recipient of this award is presented with a cash prize, a medal, and a certificate.

Vishwanathan Anand the renowned chess player, became the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for his outstanding performance and accomplishments in chess from 1992 to 1993. Karnam Malleswari, a weightlifter, was the first sportswoman to receive this award. Sachin Tendulkar was also honoured with this award in 1998 for his contributions to cricket, followed by M.S. Dhoni in 2008 and Viral Kohli in 2018. 

Arjuna Awards- The oldest national sports award in India is the Arjuna Award established in 1961. The Ministry of Youth Affairs grants it to athletes who have delivered exceptional performances consistently for a minimum of four years in national and international competitions.

The award is dubbed after Arjuna, a renowned archer in the Mahabharata. The recipient of the award is presented with a bronze statue of Arjuna, a certificate, and a monetary prize. In 1961, six individuals were the first recipients of the Arjuna Award: Saleem Durrani in Cricket, Sarabjeet Singh in Basketball, Manuel Aaron in Chess, Gurucharan Singh Randhawa in Athletics, Nandu Natekar in Badminton, and LB D'souza in Boxing. 

Dronacharya Award- The accolade is not conferred upon the players, but instead on the mentors who coach, prepare and steer them towards success in sports. The Dronacharya Award was established by the Indian Government in 1985 and is named after "Dronacharya," the mentor of Pandavas in Mahabharata. It is bestowed upon coaches for their endeavours, training, and direction in creating medalists for the country in national and international-level sporting events such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games

The awardee receives a bronze statue of Dronacharya, a scroll, ceremonial attire, and a monetary prize. The first recipients of the Dronacharya Award in 1985 were Bhalachandra Bhaskar Bhagwat (a wrestling coach); O.M. Nambiar (an Athletic coach), Om Prakash Bhardwaj (Boxing coach). Additionally, the pioneer foreign coach in India to receive the Dronacharya Award is B.I. Fernandez.  

Dhyan Chand Award - The Dhyan Chand Award is the highest accolade presented each year by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to recognize lifetime accomplishments. In 2002, the award was renamed in honour of Dhyan Chand, an Indian hockey icon who amassed over 1000 goals during his two-decade career. 

The prize consists of a certificate, shield, and cash. Aparna Ghosh was the first person to receive the Dhyan Chand Award for her achievements in basketball. Recipients of this award are chosen based on their contributions to sports both during and after their athletic careers. 

Literary Awards - As their name implies, Literary Accolades are bestowed upon Indian authors to acknowledge and value their exceptional literary works and their efforts towards the advancement of India


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