The Param Vishsish Seva Medal is awarded to recognize "distinguished service of the most exceptional order" to all ranks of the armed forces. In practice, however, the award tends to be granted only to the most senior officers of the various branches of the Indian military.
The award may be granted posthumously and subsequent awards are represented by a bar worn on the ribbon. The award carries with it the right to use "P.V.S.M." as postnominal letters.
The Param Vishisht Seva Medal was originally established as the "Vishisht Seva Medal, Class I" and only on 27 January 1967 was it renamed and the badge redesigned as detailed below.
In 1980, the Sarvottan Yudh Seva Medal was created to recognize distinguished services in an opertional environment. Since that date, awards of the P.V.S.M. have been restricted to non-operational service.
Established: 26 January 1960, by the President of India, as the "Vishisht Seva Medal, Class I." The statutes were revised on 30 April 1962 to clarify the fact that awards were made by the President of India (which had only been implied in the original statutes). The award was further revised and renamed on 27 January 1967.
Obverse: A 35-mm circular gilt medal, with a five-pointed star in the center. Suspended from a straight-bar suspender. Named on the edge.
Reverse: The state emblem with the name of the decoration in Hindi above. Until 1967, this would have been "Vishisht Seva Medal", the class being implied by the metal in which the decoration was produced. After 1967, the name was altered, predictably, to "Param Vishisht Seva Medal".
Ribbon: 32 mm, yellow, with a 2 mm central stripe of dark blue. Yellow 15 mm, dark blue 2 mm, yellow 15 mm.
Awards: To understand the award better, a sample recipient would be Lieutenant-General Brij Mohan Kaul, who was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal, Class I: "for successfully completing the project 'Amar' which entailed the construction of 1,450 quarters for troops in Ambala. This was the first project of its kind and was completed through hot weather and the monsoons in the face of numerous problems. Lt.-Gen. Kaul overcame these difficulties by dint of hard work and initiative of the highest order. He displayed organising ability, drive, and resourcefulness. It was by his determination, leadership and personal example that the task was completed by due date."
Outline: The medal has been awarded as follows: