New Delhi: November 14, the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, is celebrated as Children's Day. Every year on this day, the government of India announces the names of the recipients of the annual bravery awards. These awards are presented to around 25 children who are below the age of 16 years in recognition of their meritorious acts of bravery against all the odds.
However, a very few know about why the tradition of awarding the children started.
The story dates back to the year 1957. India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was attending a Ramleela performance. A 14-year-old boy, Harish Chandra Mehra, a boy scout was guarding the VIP enclosure. Suddenly, the tent caught fire. The people inside and around the tent were unaware of the mishap, but somehow Harish happened to notice it. Risking his own life, Harish ran into the tent and took Nehru's hand so as to rush him to safety. His bravery did not stop at that. He came back to the blazing tent and climbed the 20-foot pole. With the help of his scouting dagger, he cut off the burning cloth and saved the day.
As Harish did all of it with no protection, his hands were severely burnt.
Touched by Harish's bravery and courage, Nehru decided to honour Harish at a national platform and his daughter, Indira, personally went to Harish's school to announce his commendation.
On February 3, 1958, Harish was awarded the first-ever National Bravery Award at the Teen Murti Bhavan by Nehru himself. Harish was among the two children to receive the award that year.
However, Harish had to bid goodbye to his studies five years after the incident and had to take up a job to support his family.
A resident of Chandni Chowk, Harish is fondly known as 'Nehru ki jaan bachane wala bachha' (The boy who saved Nehru's life). Now, a 75-year-old Harish lives in relative obscurity—his act of bravery is known to very few across the country.