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As requested, I am putting up some VERY PRELIMINARY notes on the poorly documented and badly understood Kaisar-i-Hind Medal. Please treat these as preliminary observations in search of questions, commentary, and corrections. Eventually, I plan to take these (1) into an article in the JOMSA or OMRS journal and (2) into portions of a major book.

Footnotes and references have been folded into the text.

What you see here is very much a "work in progress". This note will be revised and edited and expanded over time. Watch this space . . . .

Edited by Ed_Haynes

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In May 1888, The Order of St. John of Jerusalem was incorporated by a royal charter from Queen Victoria. While the name would suggest otherwise, there was no direct historical connection with the ancient crusader hospitaller order, although the name served consciously to link the functions of the two. The Order of St. John was awarded to recognize humanitarian services, although the statutes specified that any individual appointed as a regular member of the order had to be a Christian and that non-Christians could be appointed only (and comparatively rarely) as associate members. While this opened the order to most British in India, it made the order largely irrelevant as a means of reward humanitarian work by Indians.

In 1897, a major outbreak of the plague struck India, especially the Bombay Presidency. This medical emergency would influence in many ways the future course of Indian society. As it became necessary, however, to reward services rendered by Indian medical personnel in coping with the epidemic, a problem emerged; as the viceroy, Lord Curzon, wrote to the governor of Bombay late in 1899:

For the last half-yearly distribution of honours you sent me a long list of recommendations for Native titles, many of which I granted. It seems to me, however, that Native titles, Rao Sahibs, Khan Bahadurs, &c., are not the best or proper form of reward for plague activity; and that at the rate at which they are now being shoveled out, their value will be permanently depreciated throughout India, and in your Presidency in particular. I am therefore considering whether it might not be possible to institute some Order of Decoration to be given for services rendered in the struggle against plague, famine, cholera, and such like visitations. It might be given to the soldiers who help you so splendidly as well as to civilians. Will you let me know your idea of the suggestion? <Letter, Viceroy to Governor of Bombay, 10 September 1899, R/3/1/195 (IOR).>

Curzon may have had in mind the medal which had been instituted to reward service in the struggle against plague in Hong Kong. The Bombay governor concurred with the viceroy?s suggestions, agreeing that

The Native titles have been of very great value both in rewarding some and in stimulating others, but of course I recognize that, with plague continuing, I could hardly ask you to go on at the same rate. I was very grateful for what you thought it right to give me. <Letter, Governor of Bombay to Viceroy, 18 September 1899, R/3/1/195 (IOR).>

In October 1899, the viceroy outlined the need for a new award to the secretary of state for India:

In connection with plague and famine, I shall send you by next mail definite proposals for the institution of some sort of medal with which to reward services in combating these two scourges, whether rendered by Europeans or Natives. The Queen spoke to me upon this matter before leaving England, and it is one upon which I solicit your influence and interest with her. At the present moment we are very poorly off for the means to reward services of the character which I am describing. The Order of the Red Cross can only be given to women and that for attending sick and wounded soldiers or sailors. The Order of St. John of Jerusalem is applicable to plague and is conferred upon both sexes, but it cannot be given to Natives. The only means we have so far discovered of rewarding the latter has been by giving them Native titles; and the number of these, notably in Bombay, is now becoming so prodigious, that the value of the honour has been seriously discounted, and I shrink greatly from a continuance of the process at the present rate. Hitherto, moreover, there has been no means of rewarding the admirable services rendered by English officers and soldiers in combating the plague. I am proposing, therefore, an Order of Indian Public Service, with two classes of medal, a gold and a silver, to be conferred either upon Europeans or Natives, and for services in respect either or plague or famine, or for civil merit of other description. I believe it will supply a much needed want, and I beg of you to help me with your energies in passing it through. <Letter, Viceroy to Secretary of State for India, 11 October 1899, R/3/1/195 (IOR).>

The queen was consulted and granted her general approval. <Telegram, Queen-Empress to Viceroy, 10 November 1899, R/3/1/195 (IOR).> It was decided, for the 1900 New Year?s honors list, to go ahead with the award of titles as before, but to plan on the new medal, roughly along the lines of the Albert Medal, for the birthday honors list of 1900. <Telegrams, Secretary of State for India to Viceroy, 11 December 1899 and 9 January 1900, both in R/3/1/195 (IOR).> It was, however, the wish of the queen that rather than bear the vague name of ?Order of Indian Public Service?, the new decoration carry some appellation more obviously associated with her; the name ?Kaisar-i-Hind Medal? was suggested by the secretary of state for India and approved by the queen. <Telegram, Secretary of State for India to Viceroy, 22 March 1900, R/3/1/195 (IOR).>

The new medal was approved in a royal warrant of 10 April 1900, for ?important and unusual service in the advancement of the public interest in India,? though the clear plague and famine connection was retained. The hollow medal, oval in shape with the queen's cypher on the obverse and an alaborate design of lotuses on the obverse bearing the legends "KAISAR-I-HIND" and "FOR PUBLIC SERVICE IN INDIA" , was to be awarded in two classes, the first class in gold awarded by the crown and the second class in silver awarded by the governor-general. Bars were authorized for subsequent awards of the medal in both classes. <Royal Warrant, 10 April 1900, R/3/1/196 (IOR); Dorling, Ribbons and Medals, p. 29; Mackay and Mussell, Medal Yearbook 2001, no. 38, p. 87. The medal would, subsequently, be revised by royal warrants of 8 July 1901, 9 July 1912, 2 November 1933, 24 June 1938, 21 December 1939, and 10 March 1945; see the correspondence in DO 142/304 (PRO).> From the inception of the award, however, confusion arose. The two classes (gold and silver) were seen as two separate awards, in part a reflection of their distinct sources of award (the crown and the governor-general). The award of a gold medal to an individual who had received a silver medal did not constitute a promotion within the medal (as was the case with the Indian Order of Merit). But, as the gold Kaisar-i-Hind Medal was an award from the monarch while the silver medal was just an award from her representative in India, it was considered to be expected that any recipient of the silver medal (even with bars) would return it if awarded the gold medal. <Note by R. Nathan, ?Principles to be Observed in Awarding Kaisar-i-Hind Medals,? 16 May 1905, R/3/1/196 (IOR).> Under normal circumstances ? i.e., in the absence of major events of famine or epidemic ? awards of the first class were to be limited to five in each of the two honors lists each year, while the silver medals should remain in the range of ten for each list (and they could certainly be fewer in number). <Circular letter from the Viceroy, 9 August 1905, R/3/1/196 (IOR).> The Kaisar-i-Hind medal (regardless of class) was not listed in the imperial order of wearing until 1904, but at that time it fell into the order of wearing of awards following the decorations awarded to officers in volunteer forces for long service and ahead of the various jubilee and coronation medals (which, as personal gifts of the sovereign, were worn ahead of campaign medals). <Tuson, ?Medals will be Worn?, p. 45.>

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The Royal Warrant had been published in the London Gazette:

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

and

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

The Queen Victoria variety was apparently only awarded in the Birthday 1900 and New Years' 1901 honours lists (the queen died 22 January 1901). Awards, however, were not published in the London Gazette, being reserved to the Gazette of India (much like the Order of the Indian Empire). It is not possible at present to speak of the numbers awarded, but they must have been very few, possibly only ten in gold and twenty in silver.

The medal was struck at the Calcutta Mint, at the Royal Mint, and by apponted jewellers such as Garrard. This is a silver Queen Victoria issue, made by Garrard (and in case):

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The queen's death and the accession of her son as King-Emperor Edward VII necessitated the redesign of the medal by substituting his cypher for hers on the obverse, but no changes were made beyond some fine-tuning of the hastily drafted royal warrant. See:

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

Perhaps the greatest momentary innovation of the Edward VII era was, however, the commencement of publishing at least one list of the recipients of the gold medal in the London Gazette:

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

Most honours lists, however, and all awards of the silver medal, were published only in the Gazette of India.

One ongoing concern for the British administrators of India, and one which accelerated in the early decades of the twentieth century, was the ever-present danger of the proliferation of honors to the degree where they ceased to hold meaning. A useful insight into this problem was provided by the ex-Viceroy, Lord Curzon, who wrote to his successor from Egypt while on his way back to England at the conclusion of his tumultuous term as the crown?s representative in India:

I have taken an immense amount of trouble in my time, making out columns for my own guidance so as to balance the respective interests of provinces (according to their size, importance, and population), creeds (Hindu, Mohammedan, Parsi), and class (official and non-official). I have also tried to honour and reward the silent workers in the Mufussil, even before those who had the luck to get to head-quarters and to obtain the spoils.

I trust you will be sparing of the higher honours and not ladle out the G.C.S.I. and G.C.I.E. too freely among the Chiefs. Let them begin at the bottom and work their way up. . . .

There is one practice against which I have consistently fought, but hitherto without success. It is that of making every Governor of Bombay and Madras a G.C.I.E. when he comes out and before he has done anything, and a G.C.S.I. when he goes home, whatever he has done. They, every one of these Governors, retires from India with exactly the same decorations as the Viceroy. Thus the spectacle of Beilby Wenlock being both a G.C.S.I. and a G.C.I.E. is absurd. The practice, moreover, is a modern innovation. I tried to revert to the old practice of making a Governor a K.C.S.I. to start with and of then giving him a G.C.I.E. when and if he deserved it, and a G.C.S.I. only in the event of his having been a conspicuous success. But the King is so fond of dealing out honours with a lavish hand that he would not agree, though George Hamilton did.

I think I urged you at Bombay not to be too lavish with the Kaisar-i-Hind (there is a danger that it may become the perquisite of ladies and missionaries). It is very important to keep up its distinction and value. Local Governments will never remember that bars are given to this decoration as explained in my last circular letter of August. <Letter, Lord Curzon to Lord Minto, 25 November 1905, R/3/1/198 (IOR).>

Curzon?s successor, Lord Minto, replied in a comparatively succinct fashion: ?I fully agree with you as to the necessity of avoiding the ?prostitution? of honours ? it is far too prevalent, and I have always inveighed against it.? <Letter, Lord Minto to Lord Curzon, 18 January 1906, R/3/1/198 (IOR).>

For illustration, an Edward VII gold Kaisar-i-Hind, on slightly modified bow mount for a woman (mounting these for wear by women seems always to have posed a major challenge and never seems ever to have been "gotten right").

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The death of Edward VII and the accession of his son as King-Emperor George V led, once again, to a redesign of the badge by adding the new emperor's cypher.

Yet the new king-emperor was different from his predecessors. He actually visited India and came face-to-face with one reality of the distanmt and almost independennt Indian honours system: when worn with other medals, the hollow Kaisar-i-Hind medal jingled most horribly and in what the new monarch felt was an unseemly fashion.

This led to a redesign of the badge as a solid badge, discussed in the next section. It is, however, important to note that authorities in London never realised the badge had been redesigned, and continued to issue the hollow badge for those recipients resident in the United Kingdom, even as solid badges were being bestowed in India.

The first variety George V Kaisar-i-Hind in gold shown here is the one awarded to Winifred, Lady Hardinge of Penshurst, C.I., K.i.H..

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As with any honours system, compression and compantion and the ever growing need for "more" infected Indian honours in the 1930s and the Kaisar-i-Hind medal was no exception. In part, this came as a result of a general "aging" of the system and in part came from the increased demands being placed on government in the context of the rising tide of the Freedom Struggle.

On 15 December 1933, a new Royal Warrant expanded the medal, adding a third class in bronze:

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

and

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

Occasional awards (in gold only) continued to be published in the London Gazette in the last years of the reign of George V.

29 December 1933

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

2 February 1934

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

1 June 1934

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

29 June 1934

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

28 December 1934

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

31 May 1935

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

19 November 1935 (special awards for Quetta earthquake)

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

and

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

31 December 1935

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

The death of George V on 20 January 1936 would initiate another redesign of the medal. It would also initiate a constitutional crisis.

To represent medals of this period, I present a George VI bronze.

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Before moving on the the final awards of the Edward VIII and George VI era, two awards deserve special attention.

The awards of Kaisar-i-Hind medal in gold to Khan Bahadur Mogul Baz Khan, I.O.M., I.D.S.M., and Khan Bahadur Kuli Khan were completely unprecendented and -- judged by the standards for the medal -- totally inappropriate.

London Gazette 25 May 1923:

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...p;selHonourType

And, therefore, they are quite fascinating!

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As independence approached, changes in the honors system mirrored the impending reshaping of the political landscape. In January 1947, it had been decided to discontinue all awards of honors or titles to Indians, but an exception was made for military awards, in part to deal with the ongoing necessity for late awards for the recently concluded war. This meant that all titles (both the main series ? Rai Bahadurs and so on ? and special titles ? the Shams-ul-Ulama and Vaidyaratna sequences) would be terminated, as would the Indian orders. <Background note for discussions with Jawaharlal Nehru and with Liaqat Ali Khan, ca. 6 November 1946, R/3/1/267 (IOR); note by Private Secretary to the Governor General, undated (about January 1948?), Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 25-H/48, p. 3.> The press communiqu? announcing this decision specified gallantry awards, the Order of British India, possible civilian awards for gallantry, police and fire services medals, and Kaisar-i-Hind awards for humanitarian services. All ?Indian titles? had been specifically terminated, though the place of the ex officio titles that accompanied the classes of the Order of British Indian were left vague. Tellingly, though, the ban on awards applied only to ?British India?; presumably, awards in ?Indian India?, in the ?Princely States?, would (or could) continue. <Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 37(19)-H/47. This communiqu? is given in full in Appendix 2. See also letter, Prime Minister to Viceroy, 28 August 1947, Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 364-H/46.>

Efforts to retain the Kaisar-i-Hind medal, with a new name (the inelegant suggestions included the clumsily indigenized ?Badshah-i-Hind?) with redesign at least as far as the imperial cipher was concerned, proved untimately unsuccessful. <Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals, 514th Report, ?Kaisar-i-Hind Medal,? 28 April 1948, DO 35/3303 (PRO); letter, Secretary of State for India to the U.K. High Commissioner New Delhi, 3 February 1948, Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 18(3)-H/47.> The whole system of awards, honed and refined in a conscious process since the displacement of the East India Company in 1859, began to be wound up throughout early August 1947, as final awards were gazetted; the review of these awards provides a useful parting snapshot of the system as it stood at the closing moment of the British Empire in India. It is perhaps a suitable irony that the closing set of honors from the Emperor of India was the Kaisar-i-Hind medal, all other awards having been terminated.

? Kaisar-i-Hind, gold ? Miss Jean Murray Orkney, W.M.S., M.B., Ch.B. (St. Andrews), D.P.H. (Manchester), Chief Medical Officer, Women?s Medical Service (actually a bar to her earlier award of the gold medal) <Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 4-H/1948.>

? Kaisar-i-Hind, silver ? Millicent, Lady Tymms (wife of Sir Fredick Tymms, K.C.I.E., M.C., Director-General, Civil Aviation, Government of India) <Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 4-H/1948.>

? Kaisar-i-Hind, bronze ? Gajadhar Upadhya, Esq., Chief Regimental Religious Teacher, 1st (K.G.V.?s Own) G.R. [Gurkha Rifles] <Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 4-H/1948.>

One final, postmortem, Kaisar-i-Hind in gold hounous list would be publsihed in the London Gazette:

30 December 1947

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

So general was this sea change in the world of imperial honors that it now became impossible for Indian and Pakistani employees of the British to be rewarded for their services. In 1948, awards of the M.B.E. to an Indian accountant in the British embassy in Baghdad and of the M.B.E. and B.E.M. to two Pakistani medical personnel in the British embassy in Kabul had to be declined due to concerns over the complexities of dominion relations involved. <See correspondence in L/P&S/15/158 (IOR).>

Visually separating George V and George VI badges is a major problem. The attached image may (?) help:

1- George V, firsr variety (gold)

2- George V, second variety (gold)

3- George VI (silver)

Note especially the designs of the surrounding oval, especially at the botton. (That is the clue I use, the sharp centre-bottom device for George V as opposed to the softer design for George VI.) The cyphers are different, though you may have to stare for a while to see it.

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As India developed its own system of honours, the Kaisar-i-Hind medal remained an important ideal. The committee on awards proposed an order or a medal in three classes for humanitarian services (roughly, a continuation of the Kaisar-i-Hind medal). This medal was to have strict annually limited awards of twenty for the first class, forty for the second class, and eighty for the third class. <Draft Report of the Committee on Honours and Awards in India, n.d., Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 25-H/48, p. 48 ff; Memo of Third Committee Meeting, 9 March 1948, Office of the Private Secretary to the Viceroy (NAI), 25-H/48, p. 48.> This suggestion eventually evolved into the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Sri.

To represent the history of the award, one representative group. To 100032 Clerk JM Biswas IWT, RE. Kaisar-i-Hind in bronze, George VI.

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By request, the botton designs on a GV 2nd variety and a GVI Kaisar-i-Hind. See why I use this device as my quick-reference characteristic?

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THIS is why I enjoy this forum so much. Thanks, Ed, for making this information available. When I first started collecting medals, I started out with British decorations and I have always liked the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal - it's very aesthetically pleasing in design and the burnishing is really nice in hand. However, I have never seen so much as more than a blurb about the decoration until this post.

I'll post my 2nd class George V type 2 medal here when I have a chance.

Cheers,

Eric

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Better late than never, here is my George V second type silver Kaisar-i-Hind medal. I don't think the scan will do this medal justice, as it really is a delicately beautiful award.

Again, thanks Ed for making this article available to those of us interested in this underappreciated award. I only wish I could add more.

Cheers,

Eric

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Hello Ed, Such an interesting post of some years ago. Can you tell us the fineness of the gold used in this award; and also for similar solid gold issues such as the Order of British India? The silver issues are, I presume, in sterling silver, i.e., .925 fine silver?

Regards, Frank Draskovic

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Hello Paul, What surprises me is that important details like exact metallic content are not clearly defined in UK ODM books such as Medal Yearbook and other earlier British medal books over the years. Can you imagine if no-one knew for sure what the gold or silver fineness was in the British coin series? Unthinkable.

Regards, Frank

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Frank,

I agree with you totally, as general comment on all orders and medals, if metal content and weight were given in standard references it would make things somewhat more difficult for the forgers.

Paul

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On a side note, Frank, I don't believe Ed Haynes has been a regular poster [or even reader, I suspect] on this foirum for a number of years now.  He does however have his own site called, i think, South Asian Medals.

 

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56 minutes ago, peter monahan said:

On a side note, Frank, I don't believe Ed Haynes has been a regular poster [or even reader, I suspect] on this foirum for a number of years now.  He does however have his own site called, i think, South Asian Medals.

Ed;s site is South Asia Gongs - sagongs.  As I mentioned, he's also active on the OMSA site.

Hugh

 

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