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Integration of princely states

Assimilation of princely states is the story of how India came to be as we see it today and nothing better than maps can narrate the journey

Integration of princely states

This week, readers will see two maps – one printed in 1947, when India was still a dominion and the one published in 1950 when India became a republic and the description masthead reads 'INDIA: Showing the position of states under the Constitution'. However, this column will focus on the integration of the princely states, as these are no longer clubbed under the very broad categories of Punjab states, the Madras states and states of Western, Deccan, Eastern and Central states.

Of the 571 states covered under the doctrine of Paramountcy of the Crown, only nine went to the Dominion of Pakistan. The procrastination of the ruler of J&K, the intransigence of the Nizam of Hyderabad and the abortive effort of Junagadh to opt for Pakistan are widely known. Lesser known is the fact that the kingdom of Kalat, also called the Khanate of Kalat in the Balochistan province of Pakistan wanted to accede to India and even sent their representative to call on Maulana Abdul Kalam and VP Menon, the Secretary (later Adviser) to the Ministry of States but India did not accept the offer, mainly because this would have gone against the accepted principles of geographical continuity and the demographic profile of the state. India was veering to the view that while the views of the ruler were important, they could not be the sole reason for determining the accession of a state to a Dominion. Of greater surprise is the revelation that Jodhpur was being given very 'tempting offers' by Jinnah to join Pakistan. In a confidential note, the High Commissioner of UK at New Delhi to the FCO, London read as follows: ' As you probably know, this is not the first time that His Highness(Jodhpur) has been considering the relative benefits of Jodhpur's accession to Pakistan rather than India. He is said to have been offered by Mr Jinnah certain facilities, including free use of the port of Karachi'. In another dispatch, it was reported that Jinnah compared the Rajputs to Pathans and said that all Rajouts will have the right to bear arms without any license throughout the territory of Pakistan. The High Commissioner also mentioned that in turn, Sardar Patel 'deemed it expedient to undertake that His Highness's Rajputs should continue to carry and import arms without restriction, that food should be provided and the highest priority given to the building of a railway from Jodhpur to Cutch to open a port'.

We now look at the map of 1950 which gives a much clearer picture of India and all the 562 princely states in India, covering 45 per cent of India's area (with a population of 98 million) are clearly integrated, either under the Raj Pramukhs in the case of Union of States (Pepsu Patiala and East Punjab States Union), Saurashtra (all the twelve salute states, including Bhavnagar, Nawanagar, Junagadh and the 107 limited jurisdictional states and 329 non-jurisdictional states), Rajasthan Union which was led by Udaipur, Madhya Bharat (or the Malwa Union comprising, amongst others Gwalior and Indore but excluding Bhopal), Travancore – Cochin or in the case of larger states like J&K, Hyderabad and Mysore with their geographical boundaries still intact, were also under the Raj Pramukhs. Collectively, these are referred to as 'Part B states'.

Many states/group of states have become Chief Commissioner's provinces as in the case of Ajmer, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, Vindhya Pradesh (thirty-five states of Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand with the Ruler of Rewa as the Rajpramukh). These, along with Delhi are 'Part C states'. The only Part D state was Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and this was administered directly by New Delhi. Many other states were merged with the neighbouring provinces. Orissa got twenty-three states in addition to Mayurbhanj, and CP and Berar got another fourteen, Baroda and Kohlapur, along with sixteen jurisdictional states from Deccan joined Bombay. Pataudi and Loharu were merged with East Punjab. The decision to merge Benares, Rampur and Tehri Garhwal with United Provinces (UP) had also been taken.

One must also make a mention of the Union of Matsya states (Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) and Rajputana (nine states including Bikaner, Jaipur and Jodhpur) which were so short-lived that they never appeared on any map of India.

It may also be mentioned that the Rajpramukh of Madhya Bharat and the Governors of Assam and Central Provinces and Berar had special responsibility with regard to the large tribal-dominated tracts as the delegated responsibility of the Union of India.

How were these states to be administered? The legal basis was derived from the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Act 1947 (now repealed), which enables the Government of India to exercise the necessary power in states where, under an agreement, jurisdiction, power and authority are transferred to the Government of India.

Even though both Bhutan and Sikkim are mentioned in the January 1949 document of the CRO 'Indian States – Developments since the Transfer of Power in August 1947', the description for them in the remarks column reads 'Himalayan state whose status is somewhat dissimilar from others. Agreements whereby, under Treaty obligations, the foreign policy and external relations are subordinated to that of India are likely to continue.' Incidentally, following major unrest in Sikkim, the administration of the state had come under India for a brief period in 1948-49 but the Chogyal (as the temporal cum spiritual head of Sikkim was called) resumed his administration before India became a Republic. In 1975, Sikkim first became an associate state and then a full-fledged state of the Indian Union.

The writer is the Director of LBSNAA and Honorary Curator, Valley of Words: Literature and Arts Festival, Dehradun. Views expressed are strictly personal

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