The art of appreciating the brave and gallant is not new. They form one of the most important constituents of a nation’s stability. History defines gallantry as commanded respect and appreciation. The concept of emancipation of the brave is cognizant in our Epics too. In the Mahabharata, the merit of dying as a martyr in the cause of Dharma is all along appreciated as the easiest way to heaven. In fact, any kind of death on the battlefield was considered glorious.
Whether being the appointed head of a clan, raised memorials in honour of the martyrs/brave souls or granted titles, robe of honour, cash awards or medals etc., recognition of bravery has always been a very prestigious affair. The conclusion of British Rule in India saw the end of the old institution of British honours and awards. Independent India saw the introduction of awards such as Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Ashoka Chakra, Shaurya Chakra etc.
The Ashok Chakra series of awards are open to civilians also. Recommendations received in respect of civilians from the State Governments/Union territory Administra-tions and Ministries/Departments of the Central Government are processed by the Ministry of Defence for the consideration of the Central Honours and Awards Committee chaired by the Defence Minister. These awards are biannual and are given on the Republic Day and Independence Day.
This is awarded for gallantry other than in the face of the enemy. This award may be granted to civilians or to military personnel and may be awarded posthumously.
Source: India Book - A Reference Annual