It is a Persian word which means the elite, or one belonging to the ruling race. The Pathans and Mughals who had become the ruling races in India for several hundred years were referred to as Sardars, when by the dose of the 17th century, the Tenth Sikh Guru founded the Order of the Khalsa and one each member of this Order, he conferred the title of Sardar. During the 18th century, the Sikhs succeeded in wresting the political power from the hands of the Pathans and Mughals in the entire region of the North Western India and thus became de facto Sardars also in addition to de jure Sardars. Ever since, a Sikh has been addressed as a Sardar by way of courtesy during the British period by the Government authorities as well as by his own non-Sikh compatriots and neighbours. After India became free in 1947, a set policy has been adopted to discourage the use of this courtesy title in relation to a Sikh and a Sikh is now invariably referred to as a Shri in official pharaseology and as a giani, when not something worse, by his neighbours and co-citizens of a free India.