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A different price for bravery

February 20, 2008

After writing about awards in an earlier post of mine, I wanted to find out more about the cash prizes for the various awards and that was when I came across an interesting bit of information in an Hindustan Times article. I discovered that winners in different states get different cash prizes for the gallantry awards…and this is causing a rift in the defense services. Mind you, it’s the states themselves which decide on the awards.

The HT article says:

The Army is not a provincial unit. It fights for one country and such discrimination can be disastrous. The awareness levels among the troops are high and they resent unequal treatment…

As far as the troops are concerned, I guess they couldn’t care less who gives them the awards, the state or the centre. The bottom line is that their awards differ depending on the state they come from. Here is a very interesting graphic from the Hindustan Times:


Kirti award winners (Peace-time award):
Mizoram – Rs 12,000,
Orissa – Rs 87,000
Punjab – Rs 15 lakh
Tamil Nadu – Rs 75,000

Apparently all these differences because the centre has simply fixed a minimum amount to be paid to the award winners, but the actual amount can be decided by the state. The individual states are responsible for this sorry state of affairs, but strangely the Hindustan Times is the only newspaper which seems to have reported this important fact. Well, at least I couldn’t find anything anywhere else.

I did come across news about Haryana upping the award amounts to its soldiers. Must be inspired by its neighbour Punjab I guess. Winners of Mahavir Chakra will now get Rs. 15 lakhs (1.5 million, and up from Rs.115,000) while Vir Chakra winners will get Rs. 10 lakhs (1 million, up from Rs 57,000). Param Vir Chakra winners will get Rs. 25 lakhs (2.5 million, up from Rs.172,000) and Ashok Chakra (peace time award) winners will also get Rs 25 lakhs (Rs. 2.5 million, up from Rs.120,000).

One of the reasons given is that every 10th soldier in the Indian defence forces is from Haryana…there are over 271,000 ex-servicemen.

I tried to find out about the proportion of soldiers in the Army from other states but the information was not available. But my guess is that those states where the cash awards are smaller are those where the actual number of servicemen are also low. This means they form a tiny votebank…reasons have to be political.

It was also impossible to get information on the internet about the cash awards in the other states (I googled at least 3-4 other states, including Maharashtra) but from this site, I managed to get information about Tamil Nadu.

Param Vir Chakra – Rs 1,50,000
Maha Vir Chakra – Rs 1,00,000
Vir Chakra – 50,000
Shaurya Chakra – 40,000
Ashok Chakra 1,25,000

I think the obvious solution, proposed by the HT as well, is that these awards should be fixed by the Central government and made equal for all soldiers.

Related Reading: Do Indian youth hate the idea of joining the Services?
Who decides the awards in India?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2008 8:48 am

    ???? me totally confused….
    indian army reports to the center, and gets it pay cheque from the central government… the awards are also granted by the central govt. so how and why does the state come into picture?

  2. February 20, 2008 8:51 am

    and when it comes to state rewarding.. which state is considered
    the state from which the ancestors come from
    the state where the officer was born
    the state where he is currently living
    the state from where he joined the army
    or the state where he intends to retire to….

  3. February 20, 2008 9:02 am

    Ankur, it does sounds wierd doesn’t it! I too was struck by the lack of logic in this! But the state that is considered is the state from where the officer is recruited from, which usually means a resident of the that state, and he would be second generation at least, even if he is from another region, as young people between 17-21 are usually recruited.

  4. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    February 20, 2008 10:27 am

    This is indeed curious, to use a very mild term. But not as much so as what was pointed out to me by an NGO friend involved in rescue, relief and rehab. She said that even in the matter of compensation to victims of disasters and tragedies, whether natural or man-made, different states have different rates. What particularly struck me was that in the case of riots, arson etc. the amounts doled out are much higher in the northern states than they are in the rest of the country.

    If the compensations are coming out of the states’ coffers one can understand this. But what about amounts disbursed by the centre, e.g. from the Prime Minister’s relief fund? It would be interesting to know if there is similar multipicity of standards there.

    An entirely different, though not unrelated issue is how much of what is disbursed actually reaches the beneficiary. Would the old Rajiv Gandhi thesis apply there too?

    Thanks for the additional info Vivek. I had heard of the different compensation awarded for disasters…but somehow I feel more indignant about this soldier issue. I mean, someone is giving his/her life for the country! Can’t help admiring Punjab. – Nita.

  5. February 20, 2008 6:04 pm

    how come its different depending on the state?
    this is ridiculous.

    Xylene, ridiculous is the right word! If we can see it I wonder why the govt. can’t! – Nita.

  6. February 21, 2008 12:33 am

    But what’s wrong with each state deciding for itself what the correct amount is? It’s the same with the state deciding what its official language is, instead of all states making a single language as their official one. Besides, if the award money is coming from state coffers, not all states have the same amount of money in their budget because of different revenues and priorities etc.- some have less, others more. We run into the issue of central government imposing its version of “correct” award money amount on state governments.

    Let the states have the freedom to decide what’s the best amount. Besides, as long as states honor their soldiers and take care of them, that’s good enough. No amount of money can compensate for the bravery shown by soldiers and their sacrifices, and states are not competing among themselves to see which one can offer the maximum amount.

  7. February 21, 2008 12:35 am

    the awards are also granted by the central govt. so how and why does the state come into picture?

    Ankur, state rights, I guess. 🙂

  8. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    February 21, 2008 7:45 am


    //…but somehow I feel more indignant about this soldier issue. I mean, someone is giving his/her life for the country…//

    It is not a question of feeling “more” or “less” indignant. A soldier, when he decides to join the army, is aware of what he is letting himself in for. The possibility that he may have to give up his life for his country is part of the deal. And because of this ever-present element of occupational hazard, he is also compensated, in both cash and kind, better than civilians in COMPARABLE occupations.

    So while I do share your indignation about the quantitative inequalities in the awards as given by different states, and even the concep that the states should have any say in deciding the quantum of awards made by the Centre, I do not agree with the implied underlying sentiment (often tinged with a filmi kind of melodrama) that there is something more noble about soldiering than there is about any other (civilian) profession practised with honesty, dedication and integrity.

    If anything, I feel that the value of the peacetime awards should be considerably raised. Except in disasters, it is not really the job of the army to manage internal disturbances such as insurgency, riots etc. which are often CREATED by politicians to serve their own nefarious purposes. Yet we merrily “call out the army” at the drop of a hat when such situations arise, subjecting its personnel to risks that are NOT part of their job. It therefore makes sence to increase the value of these awards for outstanding services rendered beyond the call of duty.

  9. February 22, 2008 3:41 am

    Nita, don’t we have state-wise regiments? Maratha regiment for example. Do they recruit only Marathi speakers or any Maharashtrian (person living in this state?) can get in? Or was this the original idea behind creating these regiments? I have no clue about this.

    I remember reading somewhere about a particular regiment refusing to post soldiers at the forefront in Kashmir because they thought that other regiments are getting it easy (army politics). Again, you may know real stories.

    Finally, I guess getting award matters. Money is a ‘by the way’ thing. States honor sports people or CBSE board students who compete in national context.

    If all of above is true, then why not the army too?

    Priyank, I agree with what Vivek said. About your question about Maratha regiment having only marathas, that’s not correct as far as I know. About Maratha regt etc as far as I know people from all over the country are recruited, it’s not based on state. Also it is not based on even from where you are recruited And this kind of thing does not happen at the officer level. It’s like in the police force, IPS officers can be posted anywhere in the country….
    p.s. Just clarified and found out that what I said applies to the Mahar regt…today there are people who are from all parts of India. However, in the Gurkha regt. and Maratha regt, you have only gurkhas and marathas, but not at the officer level. Officers can be posted anywhere, into any regiments.

  10. February 22, 2008 3:44 am

    It’s purely coincidential that there is a rhyme in the last line (oops it happened again this time)

  11. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    February 22, 2008 5:54 am


    //If all of above is true, then why not the army too?//

    One of the truly admirable things about the Indian Army (and here I include the Navy and the Air Force) is that it has, despite several temptations over 60 years and examples from our neighbourhood, remained apolitical. If it had not, India’s post-Independence history would not have been very different than Pakistan’s.

    And I hope we are able to keep things the way they are. True, there are some things which must be irritants, such as the criteria for promotions beyond Lt. Colonel including considerations in addition to soldierly and leadership qualities, or being called out against fellow citizens in periods of extreme civilian unrest. But on the whole the army record has been impeccable.

    Therefore it is not correct to use for the army the same kind of yardstick as used by the states in honouring civilians.

  12. krenim permalink
    February 25, 2008 4:08 pm

    Umm emotional India again!

    Lets look at this clearly India is a fedral country.

    So the central govt can indeed give amount x to every decorated war veteran but states with a disproportionately high number of soldiers may find it politically expedient to give 10x that amount on top of that, so my understanding is there is no constitutional provision for the centre to stop the state government from doing that is there.

    It happens in the UK too the victims of the Falklands war(a very popular war) got a very generous package on top of what the state gave them by a huge number of private donors,corporations and charitable organizations etc as compared to the dead and wounded from the Iraq war.

    cest la vie I guess


  1. Is the value of bravery state-specific? | DesiPundit

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