An RTI, filed by a retired colonel who has been waiting for a medal for 13 years now, reveals that 17.33 lakh service medals were still on the waiting list as of July 31.
Besides the service benefits received by army personnel, most have little more to show for their years of service than medals and honours. An Indian Express report shows majority army personnel have been forced to buy cheap fakes from the market as neither the force nor the government has been able to deliver their medals on time. An RTI, filed by a retired colonel who has been waiting for a medal for 13 years now, reveals that 17.33 lakh service medals were still on the waiting list as of July 31. Of these, 33,035 were of commissioned officers, and the rest belonged to Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR). Although earlier, the Directorate of Military Regulations & Forms, under the ministry of defence, was responsible for medals—another RTI reveals they had even allocated Rs 20 crore in 2014, 2015, and 2016—for the last two years, the job has been given to service headquarters.
While the gallantry medals like the Shaurya and Vir Chakras are not the issue, the backlog seems to be in non-gallantry awards or service medals, which are awarded for completing certain requirements in service—for instance, the Videsh Seva medal, awarded for service rendered outside India, or the Sainya Seva medal, which is awarded in recognition of non-operational service under conditions of hardship and severe climate in specified areas. Even if the military thinks the fakes might serve the purpose for now, it must be wary of depriving its personnel of the few satisfactions their service affords them.