The National Bravery Awards for children are one of the most prestigious civil awards in India. The awards were incepted in 1957 by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW). They recognise and honour children who perform outstanding deeds of bravery and selfless sacrifice and are conferred to children below 16 years of age. The Bharat Award, the Sanjay Chopra Award, the Geetu Chopra Award, the Bapu Gayadhani Award and the National Bravery Award are the awards that come under this category. The awardees receive a cash prize, a medal and a certificate as a symbol of their courage. In addition to this, some of them are also granted financial assistance to complete their schooling and professional courses such as medicine and engineering.
The awards are decided on November 14, Children's Day, and later given by the Prime Minister of India on the eve of Republic Day as part of the cultural programmes. The awardees also participate in the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath, New Delhi.
The awardees are selected by a high-powered committee constituted by the ICCW comprising of representatives from the secretariats of the President and the Vice-President, various ministries, as well as the Central Social Welfare Board, the police, All India Radio, Doordarshan, leading NGOs such as the National Bal Bhavan, SOS Children's Villages of India and the R K Mission and experienced ICCW members.
The history of this award dates back to October 2, 1957, when Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, was watching a performance at the Red Fort when a fire broke out in a tent as a result of a short circuit. At that time a 14-year-old scout, Harish Chandra, promptly took out his knife and ripped open the burning tent and saved the lives of hundreds of trapped people. This incident inspired Jawaharlal Nehru to initiate the awards and he asked the authorities to constitute an award to honour brave children from all over the country. The tradition has continued since then and Harish Chandra became the first recipient of the award.
Other past awardees include Yumnan Jayadeo Singh, an 11-year-old who jumped into the flooded river Nambol in Manipur to save the life of a three-year-old child. His act of bravery was recognised mainly because Yumnan saved the life of a stranger. Similarly, Jitendra Sharma, a 15-year-old boy, saved the jewelled crown of a deity in a Rajasthan temple. In this act, he was severely bruised while fighting with robbers.