Review Award Process: Defence Minister
NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked the tri-services to review their procedure of awarding distinguished service medals.
Following an Express report, published on January 31, titled “Armchair Generals Walk Away with Top Honours”, the Defence Minister has stepped in. On Republic Day, 50 highly decorated Lieutenant Generals of the Indian Army were conferred awards for ‘distinguished service’ but ironically, a majority of them are based either in Delhi or in peace posts.
According to a top Defence Ministry official, during a meeting with the three service chiefs last week, Parrikar, while raising objections over the award of Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM),UYSM (Uttam Yudh Seva Medal) by the Indian army to its top brass every year, said such awards should be given strictly on ‘merit’ irrespective of rank.
“The Defence Minister has asked the three service chiefs to be more transparent in selecting these distinguished service awards and they should be equally given to desirable candidates irrespective of his/her rank. Simultaneously, he has asked for a review of the selection process of these distinguished service awards,” a senior official, privy to the development told Express.
Sources also claimed that Parrikar while quoting the media report, told the service chiefs that “no officer should be awarded in successive years and a gap of two years is mandatory. Distinguished service awards should only be given to someone, who has done ‘exceptional’ service in the line of duty,” an officer added.
The Ministry, on the eve of Republic Day, issued a list of awardees for gallantry and distinguished service, that was dominated by three-star generals. It was noticed that 75 per cent of medals went them while only 25 per cent went to mid-level officers involved in counter-insurgency operations. Colonel Dharamveer Singh Suhag, the serving Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag’s younger brother, an infantry officer posted as Army Headquarters camp commanding officer, was given the Sena Medal for distinguished service this year. He received the VSM last year.
It is the Honours and Awards Committee, headed by the Chief of Army Staff, which shortlists the awards. Distinguished service awards are given for the “most exceptional, exceptional and high order” to all ranks while gallantry medals are awarded for action in combat.