The Indian army’s medal department has resorted to the purchase of duplicate medals, in order to deal with the reported shortages of nearly 14 lakh medals of honour.
Amongst the vast variety of medals that the Indian army awards, there seems to be no shortage in those medals, to be awarded for bravery at investiture ceremonies, a major shortage has been reported in those that are to be awarded to soldiers for having completed a certain period of service.
Unlike the original medals, the duplicate ones don’t contain the name and service number of the officer it is being awarded to, engraved on them.
In the comparatively peaceful times, the Indian army has been routinely highlighted for one corruption controversy or another.
Lieutenant General (Retd.) H S Panag said that the issue was a case of inefficiency and not particularly of corruption. The inefficiency, according to him, occurs due to the defence ministry’s inability to cater to the large demand of medals, as these are the medals that soldiers become eligible for automatically just as a specific period of service is completed in a troubled zone by them.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, Gen Panag, however, looked down upon the practice of awarding duplicate medals to dedicated soldiers terming it wrong.
Although, this may not be a case of potential scam of the same parallel as, for example, Coffingate that occurred right after the Kargil war during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, another source, a currently serving officer in the Indian army, who wished to remain unidentified, said that this shortage had existed for the past seven to eight years.
A senior army officer told Janta Ka Reporter the bureaucracy was to be blamed for the mess.
He said, “We currently have 100 people working in the medal’s department responsible for sourcing and making required medals available. This is humanly impossible for them to supply medals for near 30 lakh soldiers to meet the requirement of armed forces personnel from the army and paramilitary forces.
“A colleague of mine is completing 20 years in service this year, but his medal will arrive at least two years later. So, he has no option but to buy it from the market. What pride you have wearing a medal, which doesn’t have your name and service number? The solution to this mess is for the MoD to outsource the budget for medals to respective battalions.”