The individual active service events are each represented by a bar, and these are detailed below. Multiple bars are, of course, possible. In practice, however, they seem to be quite uncommon. All bars observed have been inscribed in English, rather than in Hindi.
Throughout, and regardless of the specified time periods for qualification decoration, wounds resulting in evacuation, or death in circumstances of active service result in automatic eligibility for the medal and appropriate bar. Likewise, time spent as a prisoner-of-war is allowed to count toward the qualifying period.
In 1965, the medal was superceded by the Samanya Seva Medal.
Established: 5 June 1950, by the President of India (with effect from 15 August 1947). The reverse designs were altered by Presidential amendments of 26 June 1954 and 6 December 1954.
Obverse: A circular copper-nickel medal, with the Bhavani, or divine sword of justice and true discrimination, point upward and within a halo. Suspended by a non-swiveling straight-bar suspender to which the bar is attached. These bars (except that for "Mizo Hills") are distinguished by having individualized representative emblems at each end; these are detailed below. The medals are usually named on the edge with impressed capital letters.
Reverse: The original design of 1950, which was never issued, described the reverse: in the center, a lotus flower with buds with the legend above "The General Service Medal" and, below, "1947". In June 1954, the lower reverse legends were altered to read "1947" with "INDIA" just above this. Finally, in December 1954, the design of the reverse as actually issued was specified as having the upper inscription read "GENERAL SERVICE" and, below, "INDIA". No specimens have been seen of the first two reverses, though prototypes may exist.
Ribbon: 31 mm, red with five 1-mm dark green stripes. Red 5 mm, dark green 1 mm, red 4 mm, dark green 1 mm, red 4 mm, dark green 1 mm, red 4 mm, dark green 1 mm, red 4 mm, dark green 1 mm, red 5 mm. As it has been so common and so widely produced, there is some variability of the precise shades of the colors in this ribbon. These color variations have no significance (as some have stated).