The government has instituted the highest civilian award for contribution to India's unity and integrity in the name of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The award, comprising a medal and a citation, would not be conferred posthumously except in very rare and highly deserving cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement.
No monetary grant or cash reward would be attached to the award and not more than three awards would be given in a year, it said.
The award would be announced on the occasion of National Unity Day -- the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel on October 31, the statement said.
A notification instituting the ''Sardar Patel National Unity Award'' has been issued by the MHA.
The award seeks to recognise notable and inspiring contributions to promote the cause of national unity and integrity and to reinforce the value of a strong and united India, the MHA said.
It will be conferred by the president by a sanad under his hand and seal, and presented by him in a presentation ceremony along with the Padma award presentation ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan, it said.
An award committee would be constituted by the prime minister, which would include the Cabinet secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, secretary to the president, home secretary as members and three-four eminent persons selected by the prime minister, the MHA said.
Any Indian national or institution or organisation based in India would be able to nominate an individual for consideration for the award. Individuals may also nominate themselves. State governments, Union Territory administrations and ministries may also send nominations, it said.
The nominations would be invited every year, the MHA said, adding that the applications would need to be filed online on the website specifically designed by the MHA.
All citizens, without distinction of religion, race, caste, gender, place of birth, age or occupation, would be eligible for the award, the MHA added.