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Mains Test Series

Post-independence Consolidation and Reorganization within the country.

Q. Assess the administrative and socio-economic issues in the integration process of Indian princely states. (250 words)

Solution

Introduction

The Indian Independence Act, 1947 provided for the division of India and the formation of two independent dominions of India and Pakistan, respectively. Also, a choice was given to the princely states to join either of them or remain independent. However, the Indian government wanted a united India to avoid further fragmentation. So, Sardar Patel was entrusted with the task of integrating the princely states.

The integration of Indian Princely States into the Indian Union after independence faced several administrative and socio-cultural challenges. Some of them are:

Administrative issues:

  • Boundary disputes: The integration process involved reorganizing states based on language and administration, leading to boundary and resource disputes.
  • Lapse of British Paramountcy:
    • The Indian Independence Act, 1947 provided for the lapse of the paramountcy of the British crown rule over the Indian states.
    • Rulers of states like Kashmir, Travancore, Bhopal, etc., saw the departure of foreign power as the ideal moment to declare autonomy.
    • Some states like Hyderabad, Junagarh, and Jodhpur favoured joining Pakistan.
  • Negotiation with states: The lack of uniformity and consistency in the treaties and agreements between the British and the princely states. Some states had more autonomy and privileges than others, and some had special arrangements such as subsidies, guarantees or paramountcy. Persuading around 526 princely states to join the Indian Union required diplomatic negotiations and political manoeuvring.
  • Financial integration: Integrating financial systems, including taxation, revenue collection, and budgeting, posed significant challenges.
  • The difficulty of integrating the diverse administrative systems, laws, policies and institutions of the princely states with those of the provinces and the centre, as some of the states were progressive and others were oppressive.
  • Managing the common man’s emotions: Due to the threat of communal violence and civil unrest in the states of Hyderabad and Kashmir, the population of those states had grievances against the ruler.
  • Border management: Ensuring the security and defence of the border and strategic areas like Kashmir and Junagadh became more critical.

Socio-cultural issues:

  • Ethnic, cultural and religious diversity: Princely states housed diverse ethnic and religious groups, hindering national unity and addressing communal tensions. For example:
    1. J&K had social discontent and a communal divide in economic status. 
    2. There was a cultural difference between Telugu-speaking partsof Hyderabad and Urdu-speaking and Marathi-speaking 
  • Peasant discontent: Hyderabad had problems of peasant discontent. So, the Telangana movement came into the picture.
  • Feudal structures: Many states had entrenched feudalism, and they gave massive resistance to democratic reforms.
  • Linguistic issues: Integrating regions with different languages required creating linguistic states and promoting a common national language.
  • Education disparities: Princely states had varying educational infrastructure and literacy rates, necessitating efforts to standardize and improve education. For example, Travancore and other south Indian states.
  • There wasan economic divide between regions to be integrated, such as  Baroda and other princely states of the Saurashtra region, which also became one of the prominent reasons for the clash.

Conclusion

Despite the immense hurdle, most states were integrated by the ‘instrument of accession’ and other means such as plebiscite, military actions, etc. With this, the process of the Integration of Indian princely culminated with diverse people with diverse aspirations.

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