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The Integration of Princely States

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By Sanjeev Chopra

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 mast head 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, 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. These included Bhawalpur, Chitral, Hunza, Kalat, Khairpur, Kharan, Las Bela, Mekran, Swat and 562 came to India. 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, these 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. A confidential note of 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 to Jodhpur of 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 Rajputs will have the right to bear (personal) arms without any licence throughout the territory of Pakistan. The High Commisiner 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% 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. 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 (erstwhile twenty-three Punjab Hill states), Coorg, Cutch, Ajmer, Bhopal, Manipur, Tripura, Coorg, 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. Many other states were merged with the neighbouring provinces, as for example Cooch Behar with West Bengal, Banganpallie and Puddakoti with Tamil Nadu. Orissa got twenty-three states in addition to Mayurbhanj, and CP and Berar got another fourteen, Baroda and Kolhapur, 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 for, by the time the 1950 map was printed, these had all merged into the Union of Rajasthan.

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

Next week, we shall take up the first Hindi map published by the Survey of India, as well as a commentary on the Linguistic Reorganisation of States, the demand for which was gaining strength, even though there had been a lull in the aftermath of the Partition violence.

(Sanjeev Chopra is an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1985 batch. He is currently the Director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. He is the honorary curator of a literary festival held annually at Dehradun).