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Which are the National Level Civil Honour Awards in India?

Last updated date: 25th Jul 2024
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Awards are given to honour excellence in a discipline or field by an individual or a group of people. Awards are given in the form of certificates, trophies, medals, titles, etc. There are a number of international awards which take into account the contribution made by various people irrespective of their nationality, like the Nobel Prize, Oscars etc. There are also national level awards which consider the contributions made by the people of the particular nationality. There are also regional awards, district awards, and state level awards, and so on. On the national level, India has a number of civil awards. In India, the highest civilian awards given are the Bharat Ratna Award followed by the Padma awards.

Bharat Ratna Awards

The highest civilian award in India is called the Bharat Ratna. It can be given to any individual without discriminating on the basis of his or her caste, religion, occupation, sex, etc. The laureates typically receive a certificate also called a Sanad which is signed by the President himself. Along with this, the recipient gets a medallion with is shaped like the leaf of a Pipal tree. 

However, there is no prize money associated with the honour. The award does not come with a title. This means that the recipient of Bharat Ratna cannot add a suffix or prefix to their legal name. The recipient may however choose to use expressions like "Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President" or “the recipient of Bharat Ratna award" to show forth their achievement in wining this award. Receiving this award makes individuals rank 7th in the "Order of Precedence". The Order of Precedence is a list of important positions that are notified by the Government.

This national level award was initiated in 1954. It was originally aimed to honour achievements in the field of literature, sciences and public services. However in 2011, the government decided to expand the criteria to anyone who made exceptional contributions to "any field of Human Endeavour.” The Prime Minister of the country recommends the President about the awardee. A maximum of 3 people are awarded each year.

Padma Awards

The Padma awards include the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri awards. The Padma awards are given to honour exceptional achievements or services in all fields of disciplines. This includes fields of Arts, Literature and Education, Sports, Medicine, Social Work, Science and Engineering, Public Affairs, Civil Service, Trade and Industry etc. Deceased people cannot be awarded with the Padma awards.

Padma Vibhushan is the second most prestigious civilian award. It is conferred to people to honour their excellent service in any field including government services.

Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award and it is awarded for exceptional service of high order in any discipline. As of today, 1229 people have been awarded with the Padma Bhushan.

Padma Shri is the 4th highest and prestigious civilian award in India and is awarded for distinguishing services in any field. 2679 people have been awarded the Padma Shri till date.


The civil honour awards add to the glory of the recipients. This also inspires others to work hard I the directional of winning the same. This in turn improves the country’s performance altogether.