Rao Bahadur (also Raobahadur, Rai Bahadur or Roy Bahadur (in Bengal)), abbreviated R.B., was a title of honour issued during the era of British rule in India to individuals who had performed great service to the nation. It was awarded to Indians, both Hindu and Christian. It is the equivalent of an OBE. The title was accompanied by a medal called a Title Badge. Translated, "Rao" means "prince", and "Bahadur" means "brave" or "most honourable." The equivalent title for Muslim and Parsi subjects was Khan Bahadur. For Sikhs it was Sardar Bahadur. Rao Sahib (also Roy Sahib and Rai Sahib) abbreviated R.S., was a title of honour issued during the era of British rule in India to individuals that performed great service in visionary leadership to the nation. The title was accompanied by a medal. Translated, "sahib" means "leader". Diwan Bahadur was another title awarded by Britain to Indians. Persons with the Rao Bahadur title could be elevated to Diwan Bahadur status. In some cases, the British gave Indians titles that no Indian had previously been awarded. These were the hereditary Barony, Baron Sinha of Raipur and several Baronetcies e.g. Cowasjee Jehangir. 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'.