An online portal dedicated to the gallantry award winners, bestowed since independence, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017. The Gallantry Awards portal has a comprehensive database comprising text, photos, videos, and recordings of both written and oral records of all the awardees since 1947 that is regularly updated. Since its launch in 2017, the portal has undergone several transformational changes.
The prime minister had articulated the vision of the government as nation-building, where every individual is involved. As a diverse country with multi-ethnicities and cultures, the essence of plurality in India is bound with the thread of nationalism. To ignite a spirit of patriotic fervour among the citizens of the country, the Ministry of Defence conceptualised and developed the Gallantry Awards Portal Project (GAP). The vision statement identified is “To transform India into a strong nation by enhancing patriotic and civic consciousness of our citizens, using digital technology.”
Gallantry Awards PortalThe Indian Armed Forces (IAF) valiantly guard the country’s borders every day to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation. They make the ultimate sacrifice when called upon to do so, to uphold our values and protect our citizens. To honour their steadfast dedication and acknowledge their brave acts, gallantry awards, which are symbolic of a soldier’s selfless sacrifice and heroic valour on the battlefield, were introduced. The awards instituted post-independence by the Government of India on 26 January 1950, are Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra. Later, on 4 January 1952, three other gallantry awards were instituted namely- Ashoka Chakra Class- I, Ashoka Chakra Class-II and Ashoka Chakra Class-III, later renamed as Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra respectively. These awards are divided into wartime and peacetime awards respectively.The Gallantry Awards portal project aims to propagate the cause of nation-building by honouring the valiant soldiers of our armed forces and civilians by bringing the stories of their heroic deeds and sacrifices to the nation through digital means. The research and content development domain of the portal is being managed by the United Services Institution of India (USI) since December 2021. The USI is a national security and defence services think tank located in New Delhi. Established in 1870, it is the country’s oldest think tank. The USI’s Centre for Military History and Conflict Studies (CMHCS) has been entrusted to conduct intensive research on the gallantry awardees of India. A team of young talented, passionate researchers are meticulously working to transform the portal into an informative, interesting and reliable source about the gallantry awardees of India.The portal currently has accounts of more than 4000 awardees, of which there are 21 Param Vir Chakra, 212 Maha Vir Chakra, 1327 Vir Chakra, 97 Ashoka Chakra, 486 Kirti Chakra and 2122 Shaurya Chakra awardees. In addition to these, fresh awards are announced on Republic Day and Independence Day every year. Names of these awardees are uploaded on the portal and disseminated on social media each year.
The Government of India launched the “Veer Gatha Project” as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav under which the government introduced several events to mark the 75th year of India’s independence. Veer Gatha project was launched to inspire school children, to instil a spirit of civic consciousness and to raise awareness about the stories of war and war heroes. The project aims to disseminate the details of brave acts and life stories of the officers/personnel of the armed forces, other lawfully constituted forces and civilians, among the students.
Students were motivated to frame different projects in the form of poems/paragraphs/essays/paintings/multimedia presentations on gallantry award winners and the 25 best projects were rewarded jointly by the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education at a national felicitation program. As part of the project and to increase awareness among school students about the gallantry award winners, the Ministry of Defence, through the army, navy and airforce, organised numerous virtual/face-to-face awareness workshops, seminars and webinars for schools across the country. During these interactive sessions, queries of students were answered and short videos/PPTs/documentaries/brochures and various other resource materials were shared with students.
The Veer Gatha Project 1.0 was organised by the Ministry of Defence in partnership with the Ministry of Education and MyGov at an all-India level from 21 October to 20 November 2021 for school students of standard III to XII in all states and Union Territories. 8,03,978 students from 4,788 schools across the country participated in the project, making it a success. As a second part of the process, a national committee was set up to select a total of 25 students, being dubbed as “Super 25”, after several rounds of evaluation and were declared winners. The selected Super 25 were felicitated on 12 August 2022, in New Delhi by Rajnath Singh. They were invited to New Delhi as special guests of the Ministry of Defence and also received a cash prize.After the overwhelming response and success of Veer Gatha Edition-1, the Ministry of Defence in coordination with the Ministry of Education launched Project Veer Gatha 2.0 and it will culminate with the prize distribution ceremony on 25 January 2023. It started on 13 September 2022 and continued till 31 December 2022. Under this edition, various webinars, seminars and workshops were conducted by different armed forces stations across the country. Students were involved in interactive sessions with the officers and were enlightened by the inspiring stories of the valour of the Bravehearts. Similar to the first edition, under Veer Gatha 2.0, students framed different projects on gallantry award winners. The submission by the students could be made in any of the 22 scheduled languages and English.
ConclusionThe rejuvenated Gallantry Awards Portal is a befitting tribute to our nation’s decorated warriors. It also serves to strengthen the connect between the citizens and its soldiers. The portal has contributed to instilling a sense of greater patriotism and pride among India’s citizens. This digital vision has enabled stories of our gallant warriors to reach households pan-India. It represents India’s rich military history and its portrayal and is a deserving recognition to all those who have put their lives on the line to protect India and its sovereignty. The portal recounts the courage and valour of all the brave soldiers, sailors and airmen, who have stood firm and dedicated themselves to defend the honour of our great nation.
The author is an Army veteran. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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