The Sena Medal
The Sena Medal (SM) is awarded to all members of the Indian Army, for such individual acts of exceptional devotion to duty or courage as have special significance for the Army. Awards may be made posthumously and these are awarded both for distinguished service and for gallantry. Obviously, these gallantry medals are awarded for exceptionally courageous action in the face of the enemy. The Sena Medal is preceded by the Vir Chakras and in turn it precedes the Vishisht Seva Medal. . The Sena Medal of the Indian Army is the equivalent of the US Bronze Star and carries a monthly allowance of Rs 500. Normally, the Sena Medal carries a citation mentioning the specific heroic act of the recipient for which the medal is awarded.
Prajith told us that his action was against Pakistani infiltrators in J&K in the year 2005 when he as a Captain commanded his company in facing and driving out five armed militants who had taken shelter in civilian houses. The combing operations in the houses were dangerous, painstaking, emotional and warranting much discipline in the face of extreme risk to one’s life. On questions from Raj and others if he was driven by fierce patriotism, Jeetu in all humility said that he simply felt of doing the assigned duty. I was frankly amazed at the ease with which the young and brave soldier approaches the tasks.
Mithun, my son and a teenager in his class XI, seemed quite impressed by Jeetu, his physique and his career and the élan with which he carried himself. Later he confessed to me that probably he may have to rethink about his career plans. After all, the life of a commando seems exciting enough! I have often been pulling the legs of the 16 year old boy, by telling him the inspirational story of Field Marshal Sir Hugh Gough who was commissioned into the army of the East India Company at the tender age of 14. This gallant and much loved Irish campaigner who always led from the front was the commander in chief of British forces in India and commanded in more general actions than any other British officer of the 19th century except the Duke of Wellington. Lord Gough defeated the Sikhs in the battle of Gujarat in 1849 thus annexing the Sikh empire of Ranjeet Singh paving way for the complete occupation of the Indian subcontinent. Lord Gough never lost a single battle and won four colonial wars. He died, at the age of 90, a field marshal and a viscount.
Despite many dark clouds in the national horizon, we certainly have many silver linings too. India’s greatest asset seem to be that of well intentioned youngsters like Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Prajith and hundreds of scores like them who inspire the young generations to emulate them and take this country well into the 21st century with every Indian holding his head high with pride, happiness and fulfilment.
2nd January 2011