Thursday, April 30, 2015


In a million strong Army, the distinguished service awards seem to be almost entirely dominated by the higher ranked officers. Is it that the lower ranks have not done their bit?It’s been a momentous Republic Day for the country. For several reasons and beyond.The Indian Army too has done its role. The Parade down Rajpath is what is on public display; but behind the scenes there is a major exercise which comes to a close the evening before every Republic Day – the announcement of gallantry and distinguished service awards.The science of Phaleristics (the Greek and Roman word for award) does go to say that human beings have an innate desire to distinguish themselves from other individuals. People have a strong urge to be better than others. The quest for social distinction is taken to be a hardwired trait of human nature.
Shubhojit is a retired Army officer. An NDA alumnus, he has commanded an artillery regiment and also done a stint with the United Nations. Out on civvy street, he works in the energy sector, and goes around the world creating wind farms.

In the present context we shall not touch upon the gallantry awards for they are akin to a holy cow. Though there are many in uniform, who know much more than what the citation does go ahead and say for each of the winners we shall not delve into them simply for two reasons – they are for gallantry and that is something none of us can ever sit on judgement on; secondly, let’s give the devil his due.But the story of the distinguished service awards is seriously unnerving. Firstly, the statistics this year.

1. Param Vishisht Seva Medal: 19 – All awarded to Lt Gen only
2. Uttam Yudh Seva Medal : 03 – All awarded to Lt Gen only
3. Bar to Ati Vishisht Seva Medal: 03 – All awarded to Lt Gen only

4. AVSM – 31
a. 15 – Lt Generals                                                                                  

b. 16 – Maj Generals

5. 13 - Yudh Seva Medal
a. 04 – Maj Generals
b. 08 – Brigadiers
c. 01 – Colonel

6. 42 - Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty) 
a. 03 – Maj Generals
b. 09 – Brigadiers
c. 15 – Colonels
d. 06 – Lt Colonels
e. 07 – Majors
f. 02 – Naib Subedars

7. Vishisht Seva Medal – 76
a. 02 – Lt Generals
b. 20 – Maj Generals
c. 33 – Brigadiers
d.19 – Colonels
e. 02 – Lt Colonels

8. Bar to VSM – 04
a. 03 – Maj Generals
b. 01 – Brigadier
Total works out to be:

1.      Lt Gens – 42
2.      Maj Gens – 46
3.      Brigadiers – 51
4.      Colonels – 35
5.      Lt Colonels – 08
6.      Majors – 07
7.      JCOs – 02
The reality is startling. The Generals have it all. Shameless and undignified is not the word. The dole keeps decreasing in pecking order. The distribution is absolutely disproportionate to the strength of cadre in each rank but then who does care
Interesting queries that do arise are –
– Is performance the criteria or is the appointment you hold which makes you eligible for the award

– Is it de riguer that every General, who is the Head of Arm or Service or an Army Cdr have to be awarded PVSMs and AVSMs?
In a fighting and active Army such as ours such forms of blatant adulation towards ones peer group spells of cranny sycophancy and sheer self-promotion, which we not only do not require but can well do without too.
 The lower ranks conspicuously absent from the seva medals.
The number of lower ranks very low in the distinguished service awards
Is it that in a million strong Army the lower ranks have not done their bit or have faltered in their levels of dedication to service and degree of loyalty? That’s what this list reeks of. Even a cursory perusal of the citation for these awards (and a citation is the start point of each and every award) would make one laugh at the sheer play of words and the English written.
Each and every one in uniform does his / her duty, but these awards in specific go to say that some do their duty much more diligently and sincerely than the hoi polloi around them.
Is it not time that we took a stand and decided to do away with this entire mockery of an exercise of distinguished awards. Ask the Army and they will flout grand phrases such as “motivation”, “dedication to duty”, but after thirty plus years, which these Generals usually have put in, do they need such inanities to spur them on?
Studies go to say that individuals tend to exhibit a higher demand for awards if they live in a society in which one’s position in society is uncertain and has to be advertised, rather than a society in which the social rank of the various members is well established and recognized by others; in the latter case, it is less necessary to establish one’s status through awards. Are we to believe that our Generals are in desperate need of some soul searching?
It will require much more than guts (and common sense) to overturn this annual ritual. Does the present Chief “have it in him”? Or, will he simply toe the well-worn line and continue to set new standards of ridicule as he did by presenting a cheque of Rs 115 crores by pooling in a day’s salary of all his men – without their concurrence!



  1. Facts and truth. Smarter one become Generals so they get awards. A house maid can't become wife of house owner...

    Thomas Manimala

  2. Dear sir,

    There must be a committee comprising of old veterans and serving uniform members from all category. There is no monitoring system to check the veracity of awardees. it is in the hands of General officers who select the awardees at their own whims and fancies. if you go very deep in the award of honorary ranks and verify the performances of JCOs who are being honored by the honorary ranks, it may be astounding that they may batmen or sycophants of officers. even in selection of officers you may see so many things contrary to the accepted norms. A unit can be run without officers and JCOs, but it can not be without the services of other ranks, really we are guarding the nations. this phenomenon is existing only in army, because the power are inherited from british dynastics. government should act upon otherwise medals will go to the undeserving candidates

    1. Yes, I also accept this. This not supervising by the govt machinery only officers are look after this things.

  3. There is Maximum corruptions in Defence due to unconstitutional act of commissioned officers.

    1. Certainly. yes. They have enormous power to manipulate the documents and all.

  4. All the 99% Army Officer are currept. If the investigation is done on the property of Army Offr, it will be find that maximum increased their property as in MES, Ord, ASC,Engrs, Signals etc ie percentage of commission on contract is fixed and taken by all officers, dress prepared by ord is not being used by army, they used to purchase from market from their salary. Pl examine.

  5. There is lot of corruption in the armed forces but being the holy cow no one dares to point fingers. We should develop systemic checks to eliminate such partition acts of officers.

  6. Very well written shame on them.

  7. Yes, always the officers are for their own welfare and awards. They never thought of the jawans under their command. May be some officers like Col Agni Kumar Singh of the ASC who is for the welfare of the soldiers. Other wise all are same. They willfully forget the words inscribed in the oak paneling at the Eastern entrance of the Chetwode Hall is the academy's credo, excerpted from the speech of Field Marshal Chetwode at the inauguration of the academy in 1932, ie, The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.
    The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
    Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.Unfortunately very few officers know this !!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hope I had worked under Col Agni Kumar Singh of ASC. Please share the contacts email/phone number of Col AK Singh..