The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Companion
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This Order was established by Queen Victoria, by her own proposal, in 1857. It was created to recognize loyal Indian citizens in the newly formalized British colony. It was intended to be the Indian equivalent of the English Order of the Garter, the Scottish Order of the Thistle, and the Irish Order of Saint Patrick. The Order has never been officially abolished, but no appointments have been made since India gained independence in 1947.
The Order was conferred upon members of the Indian civil service for meritorious service, as well as to Indian princes for their loyalty to the British crown. It was originally conferred in a single grade but was expanded to three grades in 1866. The first class was awarded in recognition of loyal service to India, and the second and third classes were awarded in recognition of at least 30 years of meritorious service. Foreigners could also be admitted to the Order, but only as honorary members.
When the Order was conferred in a single class, membership was limited to 26 Knights. Membership limits were first changed when the Order was expanded in 1866. Membership has since been altered a number of times thereafter. In 1939, when the last amendments were made to the Order, membership was limited to 46 Knights Grand Commander, 106 Knights Commander, and 237 Companions. Members of the first and second classes were entitled to use the title “Sir.”
The motto of the Order was “HEAVEN’S LIGHT OUR GUIDE.”
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