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:
The Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country, 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 endeavour. On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
Padma Awards were instituted in the year 1954. Except for brief interruptions during the years 1977 to 1980 and 1993 to 1997, these awards have been announced every year on Republic Day. The award is given in three categories, viz. Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, in the decreasing order of importance.
- Padma Vibhushan is awarded for "exceptional and distinguished service". Padma Vibhushan is the second-highest civilian award in India.
- Padma Bhushan for "distinguished service of a high order". Padma Bhushan is the third-highest civilian award in India.
- Padma Shri for "distinguished service". Padma Shri is the fourth-highest civilian award in India.
Unlike national honours, the Padma awards do not include cash allowances, benefits, or special concessions in rail/air travel. 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; honorees 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.
- The decoration comprises a sanad (Certificate) issued under the hand and seal of the President and a Medallion.
- The recipients are also given a replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if they desire.
- A commemorative brochure giving out brief details in respect of each award winner is also released on the day of the investiture ceremony.
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.
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.
Since 11 July 2019, Indian Army allows close relatives of deceased military personnel to wear their medals on the right side of chest while attending homage ceremonies at war memorials, cemeteries and funerals.
Wartime gallantry awards
Established on 26 January 1950 with effect from 15th August,1947.
- Param Vir Chakra — Highest-military award in India. Awarded for national bravery in the presence of the enemy.
- Maha Vir Chakra – Maha Vir Chakra is the second-highest military decoration in India and is awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea or in the air.
- Vir Chakra – Third in precedence in the awards for wartime gallantry.
Wartime/peacetime service awards
Wartime distinguished service
Peacetime distinguished service
Other national awards
- Sardar Patel National Unity Award is awarded to persons who make contributions to promote national unity and integrity.
- Champions of Change (award) by Swachh Bharat Mission and NITI Aayog
- Dr. B. C. Roy Award - Highest award in the field of medicine. Instituted by the Medical Council of India, presented by the President of India.
- Jnanpith Award is the highest literary honour Award in Literature of India
- Sahitya Akademy Award
- Sahitya Akademy Fellowship
- Saraswati Samman
- Vyas Samman
- Bhasha Samman
- Translation Awards
- Anand Coomarswamy Fellowships
- Premchand Fellowship
Sports and adventure awards
- National Sports Awards
- Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award
Cinema and arts
- President's Police Medal for Gallantry
- President's Fire Services Medal for Gallantry
- President's Correctional Service Medal for Gallantry
- President's Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for Gallantry
- Police Medal for Gallantry
- Fire Services Medal for Gallantry
- Correctional Service Medal for Gallantry
- Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for Gallantry
- President's Police Medal for Distinguished Service
- President's Fire Services Medal for Distinguished Service
- President's Correctional Service Medal for Distinguished Service
- President's Home Guards and Civil Defence for Distinguished Service
- Police Medal for Meritorious Service
- Fire Services Medal for Meritorious Service
- Correction Service Medal for Meritorious Service
- Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for Meritorious Service
- President Tatrakshak Medal
- National Bravery Award
- Bharat Award
- Sanjay Chopra
- Geeta Chopra Award
- Kritin Bhardwaj Award
- Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards
- List of people who have declined or renounced Indian honours and decorations
- National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement
- Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India, Samarth Ratna Archived November 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-15. Retrieved 2014-12-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 1219: Padma Awards (2015)". Lok Sabha: Government of India. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- "Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 2536: Use of Title of Awards (2016)" (PDF). Lok Sabha: Government of India. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- "Padma Awards this time only on merit, no lobbying: Modi government". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- "Underdogs stunned to get Padma awards, as PM reforms nomination process". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- "Now, anyone can recommend a person for Padma awards online: PM Narendra Modi". Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- "Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 4895: Persons Awarded with Padmashree (2006)". Lok Sabha: Government of India. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- Indian Army allows next of kin to wear medals of late ex-servicemen during homage ceremonies, India Today, 23 July 2019.