War Heroes

The Gallant 21

alt By Josy Joseph
Rediff.Com - August 1999

The Gallant 21: Param Vir Chakra winners so far


The Param Vir Chakra is the highest gallantry award for officers and other enlisted personnel of all military branches of India, for the highest degree of bravery, in the presence of the enemy. The PVC is the post-independence equivalent of the Victoria Cross - Britain's highest medal for gallantry.

The PVC was established on 26 January 1950, by the President of India, with effect from 15 August 1947, and presently it is the second highest award of the Government of India, after the Bharat Ratna (amendment in the statute on 26 January 1980, resulted in this order of wearing).

The medal was designed by Mrs. Savitri Khanolankar (born Eva Yuonne Linda Maday-de-Maros to a Hungarian father and Russian mother) who was married to an Indian Army officer. By coincidence, the first PVC was posthumously awarded to her son-in-law, Major Somnath Sharma for his bravery in the Kashmir operations in October 1947. The medal was designed to symbolise Rishi Dadich, who donated his thigh bones to gods for making Vajra and Shivaji's sword Bhawani.

The medal is of 1-3/8" radius and is made of bronze. In the center, on a raised circle is the state emblem, surrounding which are the four replicas of Indra's Vajra. The decoration is suspended from a straight swiveling suspension bar. On the rear, around a plain center, two legends separated by lotus flowers. The words Param Vir Chakra are written in Hindi and English.

The ribbon which holds the PVC is of 32mm length and purple in colour. The award carries a cash allowance for those under the rank of Second Lieutenant (or the appropriate service equivalent) and, in some cases, a lump-sum cash award. Subedar Major Bana Singh, 8 JAK LI, was the only serving personnel of the Indian defence establishment, with a PVC, till the Kargil operations. Lieutenant Colonel (retd.) Dhan Singh Thapa, 1/8 GR, was the other surviving PVC awardee, till the Kargil operations. He was awarded the PVC, when he was a Major.

The Param Vir Chakra winners to date:

  1. IC--521, Major Somnath Sharma, 4 Kumaon, 03 November 1947, Kashmir (posthumous).
  2. 27373, Naik Jadunath Singh, 4 Guards (former 1 Rajput), 06 February 1948, Kashmir (posthumous).
  3. SS-14246, 2nd Lt. Rama Raghoba Rane, Corps of Engineers, 08 April 1948, Kashmir.
  4. 2831592, Company Havildar Major Piru Singh, 6 Rajputana Rifles, 18 July 1948, Kashmir (posthumous).
  5. IC-22356, Lance Naik Karam Singh, 1 Sikh, 13 October 1948, Kashmir.
  6. IC-8497, Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, 3/1 Gurkha Rifles, 05 December 1961, Congo (posthumous).
  7. IC-7990, Major Dhan Singh Thapa, 1/8 Gurkha Rifles, 21 October 1962, Ladakh.
  8. JC-4547, Subedar Joginder Singh, 1 Sikh, 23 October 1962, North-East Frontier Agency (posthumous).
  9. Major Shaitan Singh, 13 Kumaon, 18 November 1962, Rezang La (posthumous).
  10. 2639885, Company Havildar Major Abdul Hamid, 4 Grenadiers, 10 September 1965, Khem-Karan (posthumous).
  11. IC-5565, Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, 17 Poona Horse, 16 September 1965, Pakistan (posthumous).
  12. 4239746, Lance Naik Albert Ekka, 14 Guards, 04 December 1971, Gangasagar (posthumous).
  13. 10877 (P), Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, No.18 Squadron, 14 December 1971, Kashmir (posthumous).
  14. IC-25067, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetarpal, 17 Poona Horse, 16 December 1971, Shakargarh, (posthumous).
  15. IC-14608, Major Hoshiar Singh, 3 Grenadiers, 17 December 1971, Basantar River, Shakargarh.
  16. Naib Subedar Bana Singh, 8 JAK LI, 26 June 1987, Siachen Glacier, Jammu & Kashmir.
  17. Major Ramaswamy Parmeshwaran, 8 Mahar, 25 November 1987, Sri Lanka (posthumous).
  18. IC-56959, Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Manoj Kumar Pandey, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, 03 July 1999, Kargil (posthumous).
  19. No.2690572, Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers, 04 July 1999, Kargil.
  20. IC-57556, Captain Vikram Batra, 13 JAK Rifles, 07 July 1999, Kargil (posthumous).
  21. Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK Rifles, 04 July 1999, Flat Area Top, Kargil.