A different price for bravery
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.