Honour System in India
Bharat Ratna (Highest civilian award in India)
TypeNational civilian
Country India

The Indian honours system is the system of awards given to individuals for a variety of services to the Republic of India. The categories of awards are as follows:

Civilian awards

Bharat Ratna

Bharat Ratna,[1] the highest civilian award of India, was instituted in the year 1954. Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position, gender or religion is eligible for this award. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service or performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavor. On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad[2] (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.

Padma awards

Padma Awards[3] were instituted in the year 1954. Except for brief interruptions during the years 1978 to 1979 and 1993 to 1997, these awards have been announced every year on Republic Day. The award is given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, in decreasing order of precedence.

Unlike national honours, the Padma awards do not include cash allowances, benefits, or special concessions in rail/air travel.[4] Per a December 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court of India, no titles or honorifics are associated with the Bharat Ratna or any of the Padma awards; honourees cannot use them or their initials as suffixes, prefixes or pre- and post-nominals attached to the awardee's name. This includes any such use on letterheads, invitation cards, posters, books etc. In the case of any misuse, the awardee will forfeit the award, and he or she is cautioned against any such misuse upon receiving the honour.[5]

Selection process

These awards seek to recognize work of any distinction, and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines, such as art, literature and education, sports, medicine, social work, science and engineering, public affairs, civil service, trade and industry, etc. All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.

In 2015, the government decided to end the practice of ministers recommending names for Padma awards and replaced it with any Indian citizen recommending a person for Padma awards online. The government said that this was done with the belief that every citizen has something to contribute to the nation and that contribution should be integrated with the country's growth. Accordingly, several hitherto unknown citizens were awarded Padma awards in 2017. The role of the state governments was also minimised.[6][7][8]

Annulment of awards

While there are no specific criteria for withdrawing a Padma award, the President of India, per the awards' statutes, may cancel and annul any award in the case of any misconduct committed by the recipient. At least three awards of the Padma Shri have been so annulled, twice in 1958 for recipients residing in the state of Punjab and once in 1974 for a recipient residing in the state of Gujarat.[9]

Military awards

Main article: Awards and decorations of the Indian Armed Forces

Since 11 July 2019, the Indian Army allows close relatives of deceased military personnel to wear their medals on the right side of the chest while attending homage ceremonies at war memorials, cemeteries and funerals.[10]

Wartime gallantry awards

Established on 26 January 1950 with retrospective effect from 15 August 1947.

Peacetime gallantry awards

These awards were instituted on 4 January 1952. These awards were renamed on 27 January 1967 as Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra from Ashoka Chakra (Class I), Ashoka Chakra (Class II) and Ashoka Chakra (Class III) respectively.

Wartime/peacetime service awards

Wartime distinguished awards

Peacetime distinguished awards

They were established on January 26, 1960.

Other national awards



Science and technology awards

Medicine awards

Literature awards

Sports awards

Adventure awards

Cinema and arts

Particular awards

Police awards

Home Guard and Civil Defence awards

Fire Services awards

Correctional Services awards

Coast Guard awards


Corporate Awards

National Corporate Social Responsibility Awards are given by the President of India. These awards have been instituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Awards are given in 20 different sub-categories.

Overseas Indian Awards

Pravasi Bharatiya Samman is awarded to Overseas Indians for excellence.

See also


  1. ^ Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India, Samarth Ratna Archived November 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Definition of SANADS". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-15. Retrieved 2014-12-26.
  4. ^ "Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 1219: Padma Awards (2015)". Lok Sabha: Government of India. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 2536: Use of Title of Awards (2016)" (PDF). Lok Sabha: Government of India. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Padma Awards this time only on merit, no lobbying: Modi government". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Underdogs stunned to get Padma awards, as PM reforms nomination process". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Now, anyone can recommend a person for Padma awards online: PM Narendra Modi". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 4895: Persons Awarded with Padmashree (2006)". Lok Sabha: Government of India. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  10. ^ Indian Army allows next of kin to wear medals of late ex-servicemen during homage ceremonies, India Today, 23 July 2019.
  11. ^ [1][dead link]