Colonial history

Photos: The Deccan Medal (and other honours) awarded to Indian troops who fought for the British

The Mysore campaign medal was issued to the Indian troops who fought against Tipu Sultan.

As part of the holdings at the British Library, the India Office collection of medals can now be found on the Explore Archives and Manuscripts online catalogue. The extensive collection includes more than 500 medals, which include campaign medals, orders of knighthood, as well as decorations. This blog features a few of the 18th-century medals issued to Indian officers.

The earliest campaign medal issued and in the collection is the Deccan Medal 1778-’84. The Deccan medal, issued in either gold or silver, was issued by the East India Company to Indian officers who fought in Gujarat for the First Maratha War of 1778-’82 and in the Carnatic during the Second Mysore War of 1780-’84.

The Deccan Medal, here in silver, features on the obverse a figure of Britannia seated on a military trophy, holding a laurel wreath in her right hand out towards a fort where the British flag is flying. A Persian inscription that reads: “Presented by the Calcutta Government in memory of good service and intrepid valour, AD 1784, AH 1199” is in the centre on the reverse. Around the circumference of the medal on this side is written: “Like this coin may it endure in the world, and the exertions of those lion-hearted Englishmen of great name, victorious from Hindostan to the Deccan, become exalted.”

The Deccan Medal, silver circular medal, 1.6
The Deccan Medal, silver circular medal, 1.6". British Library, Foster 4000

During the Third Mysore War of 1790-92, the Mysore campaign medal was issued in either gold or silver by the East India Company to Indian troops who fought against Tipu Sultan. The Mysore Medal, here in silver, features on the obverse a sepoy with his foot resting on a dismounted cannon with a fortified town in the background.

Inscribed on the reverse is For Services in Mysore AD 1791-1792 in four lines within a wreath, with a Persian inscription outside the wreath that reads: “A memorial of devoted services to the English Government at the war of Mysore. Christian Era, 1791-1792, equivalent to the Mahomedan Era, 1205-1206.”

Medal issued during the Campaign in Mysore, 1790-92, silver circular medal, 1.5
Medal issued during the Campaign in Mysore, 1790-92, silver circular medal, 1.5". British Library, Foster 4001

During the Fourth Mysore War of 1799, both British and Indian officers who fought at Seringapatam were presented with the Seringapatam medal. This was issued in silver-gilt, silver, bronze or pewter. The Library’s collection holds 84 Seringapatam campaign medals (Foster 4005-4089).

On the obverse is a representation of the storming of the beach at Seringapatam with the meridian sun signifying the time of the storm. Below this image is a Persian inscription that reads: “The Fort at Seringapatam, the gift of God, the 4th May 1799”. The reverse shows a lion subduing a tiger with a banner overhead that shows the Union badge and an Arabic inscription that reads: “The Lion of God is the conqueror”.

Medal (obverse and reverse) issued in Seringapatam, 1799, Silver-gilt circular medal, 1.9
Medal (obverse and reverse) issued in Seringapatam, 1799, Silver-gilt circular medal, 1.9". British Library, Foster 4005

India Office medals can be viewed by appointment only in the Print Room, Asian and African Studies Reading Room. For further details and appointment requests, please send an email to apac-prints@bl.uk.

This article first appeared on British Library’s Asian and African Studies blog.

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Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

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2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

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