Q. Assess the main administrative issues and socio-cultural problems in the integration process of Indian Princely States. (150 words)14 Feb, 2022 GS Paper 1 History
- Introduce the answer by briefly stating the status of princely states just after independence.
- Mention some of the administrative issues associated with their integration with India.
- Mention some of the Socio-cultural issues associated.
- Conclude the answer by stating the arrangement provided for princely states in the Indian Constitution.
- The monarchical states subordinated to British India were termed as Princely States.
- The word ‘princely’ was deliberately retained during the British regime, to ascribe subordination of the rulers in the sub-continent to the British Crown.
- At that time more than 500 princely states covered 48 percent of the area of pre Independent India and constituted 28% of its population.
Administration Issues in Integration of Princely States
- Lapse of British Paramountcy: The Indian Independence Act of 1947 (based on the Mountbatten Plan) provided for the lapse of paramountcy of the British Crown over the Indian states.
- Many of the rulers saw the departure of the British as the ideal moment to declare autonomy and announce their independent statehood on the world map.
- Signing of Instruments of Accession: The instruments of accession executed by the rulers, provided for the accession of states to the Dominion of India (or Pakistan) on three subjects, namely, defence, external affairs and communications.
- Power and Prestige: The princely states were not comfortable with the idea of giving away their power and prestige.
- Some of these states that posed problems were Jodhpur, Bhopal and Travancore before independence and Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir post-independence.
- Availability of Natural Resources: Some of the princely states had good reserves of natural resources, it was believed it could survive on its own and hence wanted to remain independent.
- Connectivity and Agrarian Support: The Rajput princely state, despite having a Hindu king and a large Hindu population, strangely had a tilt towards Pakistan.
- Jinnah is reported to have given the Maharaja a signed blank sheet of paper to list all his demands.
- Peasant Protest: The Telangana Rebellion of 1946–51 was a communist-led insurrection of peasants against the princely state of Hyderabad in the region of Telangana that escalated out of agitations.
- Kashmir: It was a princely state with a Hindu king ruling over a predominant Muslim population which had remained reluctant to join either of the two dominions.
- Hyderabad: It was the largest and richest of all princely states, covering a large portion of the Deccan plateau.
- Nizam Mir Usman Ali was presiding over a largely Hindu population in the princely state.
- He was very clear on his demand for an independent state and blatantly refused to join the Indian dominion.
- Junagadh: The princely state was situated on the southwestern end of Gujarat, also did not accede to the Indian union by August 15, 1947.
- It contained a large Hindu population ruled by the Nawab, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III.
- On September 15, 1947, Nawab Mahabat Khanji chose to accede to Pakistan ignoring Mountbatten’s views, arguing that Junagadh adjoined Pakistan by sea.
- The interim government led by Indian National Congress negotiated for full integration of princely states into India and in exchange he offered to the rulers a tax free privy purses guaranteed under Constitution, the right to retain their titles and their property and palaces.
- Article 370 acknowledges the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in terms of autonomy and its ability to formulate laws for the state's permanent residents.
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