In what should be a major embarrassment to all the State governments, the Punjab government has promised a monthly Gallantry Award Pay (GAP) to gallantry awardees belonging to any part of India.

Punjab's Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal announced this at a War Decorated India (WDI) convention held in Chandigarh earlier this month. The WDI represents gallantry awardees. During the convention, WDI's director of Maharashtra chapter, Major Uday Sathe, brought to Mr. Badal's notice that unlike Punjab Maharashtra does not give a monthly GAP.

The awardees from Maharashtra, as those from several other States, presently receive only the monthly GAP of the Centre: Rs.1,700 for Vir Chakra awardees, Rs.2,400 for Maha Vir Chakra awardees and Rs.3,000 for Param Vir Chakra awardees. These, too, are the figures revised in May 2009, when the existing pay was doubled. Punjab, on the other hand, has put in place a monthly GAP of Rs.5,500, Rs.9,500 and Rs.12,500 respectively since 2005 over and above that of the Centre.

Mr. Badal announced that its GAP would be increased to Rs.7,700, Rs.11,900 and Rs.21,000 and that this would be granted to all awardees in the whole country.

Speaking to TheHindu, Major Sathe said, “The GAP was announced by the Central government in 1971. The same year, Maharashtra too decided to give agricultural land and a residential plot to its Gallantry awardees along with some cash award. Many of the awardees never got the land or the plot. In December 1992, Maharashtra gave the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar to its gallantry awardees and gave them cash awards of Rs.50,000, Rs.60,000 and Rs.1 lakh respectively for Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Param Vir Chakra awardees. However, this was a one-time award and no provision for a monthly pay was made despite the fact that Maharashtra is second only to Punjab in terms of the number of Gallantry awardees.”

He said that while Punjab has about 300 awardees (retired, serving and dead), Maharashtra has about 120. In all, there are 1,173 gallantry awardees who either themselves or their families are eligible to receive the GAP.