The National Bravery Awards are a set of awards given annually to about 25 Indian children below 16 years of age for “meritorious acts of bravery against all odds.” The awards are given by the Government of India and the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW). The award was instituted in 1957
On Gandhi Jayanti day, 2 October, 1957, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was watching a performance at Delhi’s Ramlila ground, at the Red Fort. During the performance, a short circuit caused a fire to break out in a shamiana (decorated tent). Harish Chandra Mehra, a 14-year-old scout, promptly took out his knife and ripped open the burning tent, saving the lives of hundreds of trapped people. This incident inspired Nehru to ask the authorities to establish an award to honour brave children from all over the country. The first official National Bravery Awards were presented to Harish Chandra and one other child on 4 February 1958, by Prime Minister Nehru
The award includes a medal, a certificate and a cash award, the Bharat Award winner gets a gold medal, while the rest get a silver medal. Further they are also given financial assistance to complete their schooling, as a part of ICCW’s sponsorship programme and professional courses such as medical and engineering, under the Indira Gandhi scholarship scheme.
In 2009, the Government of India announced reservation of some seats in Medical and Engineering Colleges and Polytechnics for the winners of the award.