British India, Honorific Titular Medals, Rai Bahadur and Rai Sahib, Silver, 41.80g and 42.12g
The title Rai Bahadur or Rai Sahib, accompanied by a Medal, was awarded by the British Government to Indians with distinguished service or for meritorius performance of duties on or behalf of the Govt. or as personal distinction. Bahadur means 'brave', Sahib means 'master' and not many Indians qualified for this honour that was much coveted, celebrated and considered as great recognition and matter of prestige by the family, district and state to which the individual belonged. Rai Bahadur ranked higher than Rai Sahib. The Medal recipients included government officials (railways, post, police, judiciary etc), civil servants, prominent businessmen and citizens. A few of these Medals were distributed by George V during the Delhi Darbar of 1911.
The title Rai Bahadur and Rai Sahib was mainly awarded to Hindus, sometimes to Christians. For Muslims, the corresponding title was "Khan Bahadur and Khan Sahib" and for Sikhs it was "Sardar Bahadur and Sardar Sahib". A variant of the term 'Rai' was 'Rao' used for honouring South Indians and those from Maharashtra.
Prominent Indian industrialist and businessmen who earned the Rai Bahadur title include Mohan Singh Oberoi and Gujar Mal Modi while Ram Nath Goenka was awarded the Rai Sahib title.
Both the Medals are identical featuring a loop for the ribbon, a British Crown with a laurel wreath below it, two circles with the right side facing portrait of George V within the inner circle and the title engraved within the two circles, all surmounted by a 5 pointed rayed star. The Rai Sahib Medal is engraved within a deep blue enamel while the Rai Bahadur Medal is blank.
Both the medals featured above was awarded to Puran Chandra Lahiri who worked in the Police Dept in Calcutta, West Bengal. The Rai Bahadur Medal is dated 1 Jan 1917 and mentions the previously earned 'Rai Sahib' title while the date of the Rai Sahib Medal is obliterated.
These titles, although discontinued post-independence, still evoke much respect in India to the family's descendants as a bygone relic from the days of the 'Raj'.