Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent some days in Pakistani custody when his MiG-21 was shot down in a fight with PAF jets a day after the February 26 Balakot airstrike, will be awarded the Vir Chakra on Independence Day i.e. August 15, 2019.
But what is Vir Chakra and who is eligible for it?
About the gallantry awards given by the govt of India:
History defines gallantry as commanded respect and appreciation. Post-independence, first three gallantry awards namely the Param Vir Chakra, the Maha Vir Chakra and the Vir Chakra were instituted by the Government of India on January 26, 1950 which were deemed to have effect from the August 15, 1947.
Thereafter, other three gallantry awards i.e. the Ashoka Chakra Class-I, the Ashoka Chakra Class-II and the Ashoka Chakra Class-III were instituted by the Government of India on January 4, 1952, which were deemed to have effect from the 15th August, 1947.
These awards were renamed as the Ashoka Chakra, the Kirti Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra in January, 1967.
When are the gallantry awards given?
These gallantry awards are announced twice in a year – first on the occasion of the Republic Day and then on the occasion of the Independence Day.
These Gallantry awards are divided into two types with each type having three awards each:
War Time Gallantry Awards: They are given during wars or battles. These awards are given for the valor shown in the battlefield in the face of the enemy.
- Param Vir Chakra
- Maha Vir Chakra
- Vir Chakra
Peace Time Gallantry Awards: These are awarded for the courage and bravery shown away from the battlefield. These kind of awards are generally given for counter-insurgency operations.
- Ashoka Chakra
- Kirti Chakra
- Shaurya Chakra
The Vir Chakra is awarded for acts of gallantry in the presence of the enemy, whether on land or at sea or in the air. It is India’s third highest gallantry award, after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra.
So far, this award has been conferred to 1322 warriors, in which 958 people have been given posthumously.
The award is conferred by the president.
Structure of Vir Chakra Medal
1. The Medal of Vir Chakra is Circular in shape and of standard silver, one and three eighth inches in diameter, and shall have embossed on the obverse a five-pointed heraldic star with the points of the star just touching the rim.
2. The symbol of state emblem (Ashok symbol) is in the center part of it. The star is polished and the center part is in gold orchard.
3. On the back side, between the Hindi and English words, Veer Chakra has been inscribed, in both Hindi and English language with two lotus flowers.
Ribbon: The ribbon is of half blue and half orange in colour.
Persons eligible for the Vir Chakra:
1. Officers and men and women of all ranks of the Naval, Military and Air Forces, of any of the Reserve Forces, of the Territorial Army, Militia and of any other lawfully constituted Armed Forces.
2. Matrons, sisters, nurses and the staff of the nursing services and other services 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.
Monetary allowance for Vik Chakra
The defence ministry has doubled the monetary allowance for gallantry awardees which came into effect from August 1, 2017. The awardees now get Rs. 7,000/- pm, previously it was just 3500/month.
The widow will continue to get the allowance in case the awardee is dead. If the recipient was a bachelor, the allowance will be paid to his father or mother. If the posthumous awardee was a widower, the allowance will be given to his son below 18 years or unmarried daughter, as the case may be.
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