Centre doubles allowances for gallantry awards

NEW DELHI, Dec 6: The Union government has finally doubled the monthly allowances for gallantry medals won during wars and peace, but they are still far from being substantial. Recipients of the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), the country’s highest medal during war, and its peacetime equivalent Ashoka Chakra (AC), for instance, will still get only Rs 20,000 and Rs 12,000 per month respectively.
Gallantry award winners do also get one-time cash awards or plots from their state governments but they vary widely with no uniformity.
“They range from a paltry Rs 22,500 (PVC) and Rs 20,000 (AC) in Gujarat to Rs 2 crore and Rs 1 crore in Punjab and Haryana. States like Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Bihar give between Rs 8 lakh to Rs 50 lakh for ACs and PVCs,” said an officer.
Medals like PVC and AC are awarded – mostly posthumously – for “pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice”. Only 21 PVCs, for instance, have so far been awarded despite India having fought several wars and conflicts since the 1947-48 J&K operations. Similarly, just 83 ACs have been awarded till now.
“The meagre monthly allowances are embarrassing,” said Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Bana Singh (retd), who was awarded the PVC for “displaying the most conspicuous gallantry and leadership under the most adverse conditions” while dislodging entrenched Pakistani soldiers from a post located at an altitude of 21,000-feet in the Siachen Glacier in 1987.
“We had heard the monthly allowance would be hiked to at least Rs 30,000 per month from the existing Rs 10,000. Anyway, whatever the government has done is good,” said Singh, who retired 18 years ago.
Colonel D P K Pillay (retd), awarded a Shaurya Chakra for saving the lives of two children despite being injured during counter-insurgency operations in Manipur in 1994, was much more critical about the “raw deal” gallantry medal winners get in India.
“While the common people of our country have a lot of regard for our heroes, the disdain among the babus in the defence ministry is clearly visible. It’s not just about monetary benefits but honour and respect,” he said.
Incidentally, the BJP manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections had promised a ten-fold hike in the monetary allowances for gallantry medals, which included Rs 30,000 for the PVC from the then Rs 3,000 per month, with retrospective effect.
But as per the new monetary allowances announced by the government on Wednesday, which come into effect from August 1, a PVC awardee or his widow will get only Rs 20,000 per month. A Maha Vir Chakra awardee will now get Rs 10,000 per month (earlier Rs 5,000), Kirti Chakra Rs 9,000 (Rs 4,500), Vir Chakra Rs 7,000 (Rs 3,500) and Shaurya Chakra Rs 6,000 (Rs 3,000). Recipients of Sena Medals, Nao Sena Medals and Vayu Sena Medals (gallantry), in turn, will get Rs 2,000 per month from the earlier Rs 1,000.
The government also enhanced the allowance for pre-Independence gallantry awards like Distinguished Service Order and Indian Order of Merit (Rs 8,000 from Rs Rs 4,000) as well as Distinguished Service Cross and Military Cross (Rs 6,000 from Rs 2,800). The allowance for the quaintly named Jangi Inam was increased from Rs 500 per month to Rs 1,000. (Agencies)