SOCIAL RECOGNITION OF SHAURYA
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
From time immemorial Man has been going to war against fellow man. Sometimes there is clash of ego between two kings, sometimes there is clash of ideas and ideologies, many a time two countries subscribing to two different faiths measure swords. In other words, the human society has rarely been free from war and its aftereffects. When there is a clash of arms, only one side wins and the other loses. The winning side collects spoils of war and the losing side bears the burden of defeat in more ways than one. There is no prize for the runners up in a battle. The winners seize all that they wish to possess – wealth, women and territory to trample upon.
Among various factors that lead an army to victory is the Morale of men who stake their lives to win. As stated above, losers in a battle have everything to lose. One who could not win a war becomes a loser in all respects until he musters enough courage, men, material and resources to have a well trained army to go to war once again. With a view to motivating the foot soldiers and commanders at various levels, rich incentives have to be offered to the fighting man who stakes his life for the king and the country.
RECOGNITION OF VALOUR
In days of yore, kings and captains used to offer large chunks of territory to the winning soldiers and captains in recognition of their valour which is, generally speaking, exceptional and beyond the call of duty. Many times the winning side loses more lives and armaments than the losing side. The valour of the deceased soldiers and captains of war is given due recognition by bestowing on them honours and awards posthumously. The next of kin is a beneficiary. Nevertheless, the entire society come to know of the recognition given to the valour of the martyred soldier or commander and this fact provides an incentive to the youth, warriors of the next generation to bear arms in defence of the motherland and its social set up. The tradition of valour and martial wisdom is passes on from generation to generation. Thus grant of honours and awards play an important role in motivation of men to join the ranks of patriots and stake their lives for the honour and safety of the country they lived in and were nourished well to bear arms.
The history of a country is full of incidents and anecdotes where recognition of valour through honours and awards did wonders in the recruitment of able bodied men and women to bear arms in defence of the realm. The Royalty is no exception to this general rule. The Ganrajya of Aryans gave recognition to Chivalry of individual members or their groups by promoting them to the Governing Council of the State. In some cases where rare and extra-ordinary bravery was exhibited beyond the call of Duty, the chivalrous soldier was elected the Head of the Ganrajya. What better recognition one needs than being elected as the First Citizen of the realm.
Rani Kaikeyi, queen of Ayodhya, had shown presence of mind and mastery of martial talent by saving the life of the King who also was her husband – Dasrath. In recognition of the queen’s devotion to duty in battle and exhibiting gallantry of exceptional order, the King of Ayodhya had granted her TWO BOONS that she could ask to be fulfilled anytime anywhere.
With a view to raising the morale of Archer Karna and lifting him from the morass of casteism, King Duryodhan elevated him to the status of ANGARAJ – the King of Odisha. Shoorveer and Danveer reciprocated this honour by staking his life and becoming a martyr for the defence of the king and the country. Although Karna’s loyalty was misplaced but he is still honoured for his chivalry.
In the medieval times, huge chunks of arable land was given free in perpetuity to the brave soldier. The British rulers continued with this practice and bestowed the best pieces of well irrigated land to the brave soldiers and their kith and kin. Thus their loyalty to rulers remained unflinching even when the common man became a part of the revolution to overthrow the foreign yoke.
Indeed the British government in India instituted many honours and awards, gallantry medals bestowed on the loyal and brave subjects of the crown as well as soldiers of the Empire, both British and Indians. The Victoria Cross ranked the highest from the East India Company days. Initially, it was awarded to the British Citizens of the United Kingdom and not to the subjects born and brought up in the colonies of the British Empire. Later, however, even non-white soldiers were made eligible to win it for chivalry of extra-ordinary nature. Indeed it was a rare honour. It was, however, discontinued on India gaining independence from the British Empire.
INDEPENDENT INDIA MEDALS
Post independence, a number of gallantry medals were introduced for all ranks of the Indian Army. Param Vir Chakra is the first in order of precedence and awarded for rare and raw courage shown in battle in the face of enemy. Although PVC and other medals were introduced when India became a Republic on 26 January 1950 but were made applicable to officers and soldiers who had displayed exceptional chivalry in battles fought against an enemy right from the Independence Day, 15 August 1947.
Three recipients of Param Vir Chakra have the honour to be a part of the Republic Day Parade year after year and their jeep/jonga is positioned immediately after the Deputy General Officer Commanding Delhi Area’s jonga. One recipient is a Junior Commissioned Officer, Nb/Sub( later Sub. Maj Hony Capt) Bana Singh and the other two are Other Ranks. Indeed a singular honour bestowed on them.
Maha Vir Chakra is the next in order of importance followed by Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra and Shaurya Chakra. The highest award for gallantry not in the face of the enemy is Ashok Chakra which is placed just next to Param Vir Chakra in order of precedence.
It may be mentioned that some monetary benefits accompany the gallantry medals and these are granted by the respective State governments where the recipient was domiciled. The quantum of monetary benefits or award of land holdings differ from State to State.
There cannot be two opinions that honours and awards in recognition of chivalry in battle goes a long way in keeping the army or other Services fighting fit and motivated to defend the Nation from inimical neighbours. Napoleon had said that an army marches on its stomach, that is, do not keep the soldiers hungry. One may add that keep a soldier’s chest bemedalled with honours and awards to raise his morale sky high.