The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi presented the National Bravery Awards to 18 children on January 24, 2018.
Interacting with the awardees, the Prime Minister said their deeds of bravery are discussed extensively, and also highlighted by the media. Therefore, he added, they inspire other children, and often engender a sense of self-confidence among other children.
The Prime Minister remarked that most of the awardees are from rural and humble backgrounds. He said that perhaps their daily struggles had helped instil resilience in them, to deal courageously in adverse situations.
The Prime Minister congratulated all the award winners, their parents and schoolteachers. He also appreciated those, who recorded their instances of bravery, and helped draw attention to them.
Shri Narendra Modi said that after such recognition, future expectations from the awardees become higher than usual. He wished them well in their future endeavours.
Eighteen children, including seven girls were presented the National Bravery Awards 2017. Three of the bravehearts were awarded posthumously.
The coveted Bharat Award was conferred on 18 year old Kumari Nazia of Uttar Pradesh who raised her voice against the illegal gambling and betting, which have been rampant for decades in her neighbourhood. She courageously faced and endured threats to her life but did not give up her fight.
The prestigious Geeta Chopra Award was conferred on 14 year old Late Kumari Netravati M Chavan of Karnataka who sacrificed her life in an attempt to save two boys from drowning.
Sanjay Chopra Award was given to 17½ year old Master Karanbeer Singh of Punjab who rescued several precious lives from death with his tireless efforts and indomitable courage.
Master Betshwajohn Peinlang (14 years) of Meghalaya, Kumari Mamata Dalai (7½ years) of Odisha, and Master Sebastian Vincent (13½ years) of Kerala were given the Bapu Gaidhani Awards. Betshwajohn with his fearless act of bravery saved his brother from being burned alive. Mamata Dalai dragged her friend from a crocodile's jaws with her valourous and bold action. Sebastian bravely and fearlessly saved his friend's life from an inevitable mishap on a railway track.
The other recipients were Kumari Laxmi Yadav (Chhattisgarh), Kumari Mansha N, Master N Shangpon Konyak, Master Yoaknei, Master Chingai Wangsa (all from Nagaland), Kumari Samridhi Sushil Sharma (Gujarat), Master Zonuntluanga, Late Master F Lalchhandama (both from Mizoram), Master Pankaj Semwal (Uttarakhand), Master Nadaf Ejaj Abdul Rauf (Maharashtra), Late Kumari Loukrakpam Rajeshwori Chanu (Manipur) and Master Pankaj Kumar Mahanta (Odisha).
The National Bravery Award Scheme was initiated by the Indian Council for Child Welfare to give due recognition to the children who distinguish themselves by performing outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service and to inspire other children to emulate their example.
It was in 1957 that two children - a boy and a girl - were first rewarded for their presence of mind and courage. Since then ICCW decided to confer national awards on children every year.
In 1987-88 ICCW instituted the Bharat Award for an exceptionally outstanding, meritorious and gallant deed. The other special awards include the Geeta Chopra and Sanjay Chopra awards (instituted by ICCW in 1978) and the Bapu Gaidhani Awards (instituted in 1988-89).
The awardees receive a medal, certificate and cash. Eligible awardees will be granted financial assistance until they complete their schooling. Some State Governments also provide financial assistance to them. In addition, ICCW provides financial assistance under its Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme to those undertaking professional courses such as engineering and medicine. For the others, this assistance is provided till they complete their graduation. The Government of India has reserved some seats for the awardees in medical and engineering colleges and polytechnics.
Since the inception of the scheme in 1957, ICCW has given awards to 963 brave children - 680 boys and 283 girls.