Medals and Decorations of Independent India

This meticulously researched and copiously illustrated book is a real eye-opener. It woudl be fair to say that, until now, a comprehensive understanding of the breadth and depth fo the decorations and medals issued to the military, police and civilian personnel in post 1947 India has been noticeable for its absence. This complex and fascinating subject has at last been adddressed by two highly competent and experienced researchers, one a member (Indian Military Historical Society) and the other an officer of this Society, both with a deep understanding of the subject.

The authors point out, not without reason, that their work will be of value not only to medal collectors but also to the members of the defence establishment and the uniformed services of India, and to national policy makers. Looking over their shoulders at the many years spent in compiling this work, they relfect that 'we were examining India's military and civilian honours in the sort of systematic and rigorous fashion that this honours system has never heretofore enjoyed'.

Both periods of post-independence India are covered, that is to say the short lived Dominion from 1947 and the Republic from 1950 until today.

The enigmatic awards created by the Provisional Government of Azad Hind during the World War Two period are also examined in detal. This exemplifies the value of this book. The names of the nine awards created by the 'Free Indian Government' are given in Hindi and in English, and each one is well illustrated in colour alongside a detailed description of the award, its date of establishment, qualifications and eligibilities, the dimensions and the colours of the ribbon, and a representative citation where relevant. Also included, and given the same thorough treatement, are the thirty-three awards granted by the United Nations for peacekeeping duities performed by Indian troops.

The attention given to awards that might be described as exceptional does not deter he authors from giving full sway to the numerous gallantry, service and campaign medals created by the Government of India. They are all put into context by a more useful introduction that includes inter al a table comparing gallantry levels of post independence Indian awards to the equivalent British awards that preceded them, as well as several tables detailing the orders of precedence as they evolved over the years.

There is no doubt about it. This is an authoritative work that will remain the standard reference on an important subject, and it is bund to generate more thought and discussion which will be a compliment to the authors. Strongly recommended to members (of the IMHS).

Review by Cliff J Parrett. This review was first published in Durbar : The Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society Spring 2009 issue.

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