For men in uniform, panoply of duplicates

An insignia of valour for men in uniform.   | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR

For men and women in the military, each medal on their uniform tells stories of their valour and sacrifice, and for a discerning observer, each medal tells a unique story. For the past nine years, all the medals that Indian soldiers added to their uniform were duplicates from local markets.

The Department of Medals under the Defence Ministry, which is responsible for issuing original medals, has failed to do so since 2008.

Huge backlog

“Not a single medal has been issued by the department since 2008. There is a backlog of about 14.5 lakh medals of various types,” defence sources told The Hindu.

In the absence of this, personnel have been buying duplicate medals in the local market.

The original medal contains the names and service numbers of the personnel.

“Several letters have been written to the department but there has been no movement,” the official added on the efforts to address the issue.

There are several kinds of awards and medals conferred on personnel for gallantry, distinguished service awards, commendation, various decorations and long service medals.

Of these, gallantry awards are directly presented during the investiture ceremony by the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, the President of India.

Not aware of it

While several Army officers said they had bought duplicate medals, some younger officers are not even aware that medals are issued by the Ministry.

“We are not even aware that there is a separate department and these medals are issued. We have always purchased them in the market,” one young officer said.

“When there is a full-fledged department to issue them, why should a soldier go to Gopinath Bazaar [in Delhi Cantonment] and buy a duplicate medal,” a senior officer asked.

Another source said the delay was because of the defence finance wing’s objections to tendering for the medals.

“In the next financial year, they are hopeful that they will be able to get the go-ahead for tendering and they can then clear the backlog,” a senior official told The Hindu.

However, many seemed unconvinced by the reason and questioned how such objections could have held up the issue for eight years since 2008.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 6:30:51 PM |

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