22 Jan 2014

Crafting Bharat Ratna, Padma Medals at Kolkata Mint

On the occasion of Republic Day every year, the Government  honours people for their work of any distinction and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines, such as Art, Literature and Education, Sports, Medicine, Social Work, Science and Engineering, Public Affairs, Civil Service, Trade and Industry etc. These awards can be the highest Civilian Awards like  Bharat Ratna, Padma Awards, military awards like Param Veer Chakra, police medals for gallantry, bravery awards to list a few. But hundreds of craftsman who spend days and night in cutting, carving, burning, polishing metal to give final shape to these medals remain in the background at the India Government  Mint in Kolkata.

 Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) was formed after corporatisation of nine units including four mints, four presses and one paper mill which were earlier functioning under the Ministry of Finance. SPMCIL, a Miniratna Company of the Government, is engaged in the manufacture of security paper, minting of coins, printing of currency and bank notes, non-judicial stamp papers, postage stamps, travel documents, etc. The Company meets the requirements of RBI for Currency Notes and Coins and State Governments for Non-Judicial Stamp Papers and Postal Departments for postal stationery, stamps etc. and Ministry of External Affairs for passports, visa stickers and other travel documents. 

Other products are civilian, military, police, sports, film festival medals/decorations, commemorative coins, MICR and Non-MICR cheques etc. All the 9 units are categorised as Currency Printing Presses, Security Printing Presses, Security Paper Mill and India Government Mints. The Mints situated at Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Noida have rich minting heritage and legacy of producing quality products. These mints are carrying out minting of all coins circulated in the country.

The India Government Mint, Kolkata 
The India Government Mint, Kolkata was first established in 1757, and was located in a building in the old fort - where the GPO (General Post Office) stands today. It was called the Calcutta Mint and used to produce coins with the mint nameMurshidabad.The second Calcutta Mint was established at the site of Gillet Ship building Establishment and the coins issued from this mint continued to bear mint name Murshidabad. The third Calcutta Mint on Strand Road opened for production from 1 August 1829 (Silver Mint). 
Until 1835 the coins issued at this mint continued to be in the name of the Murshidabad Mint. In 1860 an annexe known as the "Copper Mint" was built to the north of the Silver Mint for the exclusive production of copper coins. The silver and copper mints both used to function and produce coins of bronze, silver andgold. Apart from minting of coins another important function of the Kolkata Mint was the manufacturing of medals and decorations during the British regime. The production of medals continues to this day.
After the closure of this mint in 1952, the present Alipore Mint was opened by the then Finance Minister of Government of India Shri. C. D. Deshmukh on 19 March 1952. The full operation for the coinage and preparation of medals, decorations and badges started in Alipore Mint from this date. As on date this mint produces coins of Rs.1,2,5,10 denominations in addition to their contribution in the production of a variety of civilian,military,sports,police etc,. medals.
 Prominent among these medals are the   highest Civilian Awards like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, military awards like Param Veer Chakra,etc,.

Bharat Ratna 
‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian award of the country, was instituted in the year 1954. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.  The decoration is in the form of a Peepal leaf, about 5.8 cm long, 4.7 cm wide and 3.1 mm thick. It is of toned bronze. On its obverse is embossed a replica of the sun, 1.6 cm in diameter, below which the words Bharat Ratna are embossed in Devanagari script. On the reverse are State emblem and the motto, also in Devanagari. The emblem, the sun and the rim are of platinum. The inscriptions are in burnished bronze.
Padma Awards
Padma Awards were instituted in the year 1954 and these awards are announced every year on Republic Day.  The award is given in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.  Padma Shri is awarded for ‘distinguished service’; Padma Bhushan for ‘distinguished service of a high order’; and Padma Vibhushan for ‘exceptional and distinguished service. The decoration comprises a Sanad (Certificate) issued under the hand and seal of the President and a Medallion. A commemorative brochure giving out brief details in respect of each award winner is also released on the day of the investiture ceremony.
·         Padma Vibhushan: Medal is circular in design with a geometrical pattern superimposed on the circle. The diameter of the circular portion is 4.4 cm and the thickness is about 0.6 mm. On the obverse there is a lotus flower embossed in the circular shape. The word Padma’ is embossed in Hindi above and the word ‘Vibhushan’ below the lotus are in burnished bronze. All embossing on either side of decoration is in ‘White Gold’.

·         Padma Bhushan: Design same as Padma Vibhushan medal but the embossing on either side is in standard gold.

·         Padma Shri: Same design as other Padma medals but all embossing on either side of the decoration is in stainless steel.

Not to be left out are various military decorations, police /bravery medals, Commonwealth Games medals, international film festival awards like Golden Peacock etc,. from the glorious collection of medals produced at this illustrious plant in Kolkata.
The India Government Mints have made a niche in the minting world - with excellence in design, expertise in minting precious metals, and above all, a long tradition of craftsmanship. Reliability is combined in a natural manner in design and production of individualistic solution that truly reflect the customers' values.

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