Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Political Integration of India

Political Integration of India

"India as a British dependency should be one and indivisible." -Lord Dalhousie (GG 1848-56). 

When British were leaving, India was a country of 28% Muslims, 22% depressed (15% Harijans and 7% tribal), 5% others (Shikhs, Jains, Parasi, Christians, Buddhist, etc) and rest the four varna Hindus.

Cultural boundaries of India can be marked from Hindukush in the West to Japan in the East and from Kashmir in North to Indonesia in the South. But political integration of India have been recorded in the history during major four periods: Mauryan Empire, Mughal Empire, British Empire and Indian Democratic Union. The previous three were the empires of Kings/Emperor by sword/bullet and the present is the empire of People by ballot.

India was a complex country. Foreigners and invaders came here for gain but merged (except the whites) into the cultural diversity of the country. But socially it remained divided into groups and subgroups though it has passed through the influence of many religion, i.e., Hinduism, Budhism, Jainism, Muslim, Shikhism, Christ, etc. The saints and seers established places of pilgrimage in all parts of the country and did many things that promoted its social, cultural, economic and religious unity. But politically the country was never united. During the reigns of Chandragupta and Ashoka, India had to a large extent become unified under one central command but even so a small bit in the South remained outside the empire. Akbar and Aurangzeb made the central rein big but strength of sword were deciding the boundaries of the states/country. It was only when the English came that for the first time the country became one from Dibrugarh to Karachi and Kanya Kumari to Kashmir under the paramountcy of British. 

Robert Clive won and Warren Hastings consolidated the British ascendancy in India, but Wellesley extended it into an empire through his policy of subsidiary alliances. Lord Dalhousie made it a bigger India under a central control through his policy of doctrine of lapse. Following the Rebellion of 1857, the direct rule of British Crown was established in India by GoI Act 1858. British Crown was the ultimate suzerain for both the India, i.e., British India, Princely States India. Princely States were governed on the principle of paramountcy and as per the individual treaties, of less or more autonomy. 

British Parliament, under the pressure of Indian freedom movement, democratized India by political process/reforms through the Government of India Acts of 1909, 1919, 1935; Indian Independence Act 1947.

The failure of Crips Mission Plan, riots and civil war type situation created after the "Direct Action Day" (16/8/1946), unacceptably of Cabinet Mission Plan, made the partition of India inevitable. 

Gandhi was able to defused the depressed group through Poona Pact of 1932 between Dr. Ambedkar and Pandit Madan Mohan Malavia. He praised Shikhs quoting one shikh is equal to one and quarter lakh people. Jains, Buddhist, Christians, Parasis, etc, were not a threat. But Gandhi failed against the leadership of Quaid e Azam Jinnah, Muslim League and their followers. British tried to keep the Country united through Cabinet Mission Plan of 16/5/46 with a weak Centre and powerful Provinces with autonomy. Constituent Assembly and Interim Government were formed but Muslim League was not ready to cooperate. Gandhi's voice of sticking to the Cabinet Mission Plan and telling British to leave India first so that Hindu and Muslim settle their issues mutually, without the third party, was unheard by all. His weapons of truth and non violence of brave were unable to find solution and the violence of the weak took over the reins of the masses. Jinnah signed the document of peace with Gandhi, but that didn't stop violence as Muslims saw their Pakistan nearby in the clouds of insurgency. The law and order of the Country was fully disturbed. Provincial Governments and Interim Government at Centre were unable to control riots. Tired and aged leaders had lost courage to fight against the situation. The public opinion was against the unity of the Nation. Therefore decision of division of the Country was taken jointly by the Congress, the Muslim League and the British Government. 

British lost their younger generation in two World Wars. They had no men and money to hold India. Therefore decided to leave but divided the Country to control the communist influence of Russia.

The problem of British India was resolved through creation of Pakistan. But merger of Princely States to either of the domains was a big challenge.

As paramount power British exercised exclusive control over their foreign affairs and made all 562 Princely States, their dependent for internal peace and  security of the State. They were governed through political/ resident political officer. 

British had established a policy of isolating Indian Kings from each other and from rest of the world, but in 1920, Chamber of Princes was established to integrate them. GoI Act of 1935 tried to unite the princely states under a Federal Government but was abandoned in 1939 due to outbreak of WW-II.

By 1939, Congress official stance was that the states must enter independent India, on the same terms and with the same autonomy as the provinces of British India, and with their people granted responsible government. Gandhi made it clear that the Princes under the new regime can exercise only such powers as trustees can and as can be given to them by the Constituent Assembly. Thus the people of the States become as much part of independent India as the people of British India. Nehru denied acceptance of divine rights of the Kings and declared that any princely state which refused to join the Constituent Assembly would be treated as an enemy state. 

On 15 August 1947, British India was granted independence as the separate dominions of India and Pakistan. The British dissolved their treaty relations with more than five hundred princely states, who were encouraged to accede to either India or Pakistan, while under no compulsion to do so. 

Lord Mountbatten declared that British Government would not grant dominion status to any of the princely states, nor would it accept them into the British Commonwealth. He played a crucial roll creating indirect pressure over the princely states to join either of the domain.

Jinnah didn't get his dreamed Pakistan and was annoyed because he got only ‘a maimed, mutilated and moth-eaten Pakistan’. Jinnah ran after the birds in the bush, leaving the bird in hand began to tempt Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Hyderabad, and even far-off Travancore to become independent or to accede to or ally with Pakistan.

The merger started on 28 April 1947, when the states of Baroda, Bikaner, Cochin, Gwalior, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Patiala and Rewa took their seats in the Constituent Assembly. King of Travankor abandoned his plan of independence after the attempt of assassination of his Diwan. 

Sardar Patel and VP Menon initiated the process of integration of India defusing the 3rd option of independence the Kings had under the Indian Independence Act 1947. They took a conciliatory approach of friendship, emphasis the unity of India and common interests of both, invited the princely States as equals.

The process of merger of Princely States into Union of India is a great story of step by step diplomatic moves of our great leaders.

Step-1 (Standstill)

Burma was directly administered from 1937 and Ceylon (Shri Lanka) was a separate Crown Colony, Nepal and Bhutan were never a part of British Indian empire, and Maldives had been a protectorate therefore remained unaffected by the partition. 

Standstill Agreement for continuance of pre existing agreements and practices were signed with Bhutan and Sikkim. Nepal rushed to UN as precautions to maintain its independent status. J&K signed standstill with Pakistan on 14/8/47.

The GoI entered into a treaty with Bhutan in 1949 that Bhutan would abide by the advice of the GoI in the conduct of its external affairs.

Step-2 (Accession, Instrument of Accession)

The Government of India Act 1935 introduced the concept of the Instrument of Accession, wherein a ruler of a princely state could accede his kingdom into the 'Federation of India'. The federation concept was initially opposed by the Indian princes, but accession of all the princely states was almost complete when World War II occurred. 7th Schedule, Federation Legislative List1, of GoI Act 1935

At the time of independence, three types of Instrument of Accession were prepared. The states which had internal autonomy ceded three subjects to the GoI : Defence, External affairs, and Communications. Other signed a different Instrument of Accession, which vested all residuary powers and jurisdiction in the GoI. The intermediate signed a third type of Instrument, which preserved the degree of power they had under the British.

In absence of support from the British, and popular internal pressures, between May 1947 and the transfer of power on 15 August 1947, the vast majority of states signed Instruments of Accession.

The Instruments of Accession provided that the princes would not be bound to the Indian constitution as and when it was drafted. It guaranteed their autonomy in all areas that were not ceded to the Government of India. Rulers who agreed to accede would receive guarantees that their extra-territorial rights, such as immunity from prosecution in Indian courts and exemption from customs duty, would be protected, that they would be allowed to democratise slowly, that none of the eighteen major states would be forced to merge, and that they would remain eligible for British honours and decorations.

Step-3 (disputes)

Travancore (present Kerala) PM was the first one, declaring it as independent country to be runon American system. The Maharaja was popular for his development initiatives including first public transport services. The agitation of communists was crushed but after the attempt of the assassination of the PM CP Ramswami Iyer, the State merged with India on 1/6/49, with establishment of the Maharaja as Rajpramukh.

Jodhpur and Jaisalmer were offered sheets of paper to write down their terms, which Jinah would sign. Jaisalmer refused but Hanwant Singh Jodhpur came close to signing. He was persuaded through the arguments of communal violence by Mountbatten and Menon, and somewhat reluctantly agreed to accede to India. After the signature, when the GG left the room and Hanwant Singh pointed a pistol over Mr. Menon. 

Junagarh Nawab signed Instrument of Accession to Pakistan on 13/9/47 but Aarzi Hakumat agitation, army intervention in October 1947, Nawab flee to Pakistan, Shamaldas Gandhi signature on Instrument of Accession followed by a referendum on 20/2/48 brought Junagarh back to India. Similarly, Manavadar acceded to Pakistan on 24/9/47, returned to India by a referendum on 20/2/48.

Kashmir Maharaja was in dilemma of joining either of the domain or to remain independent, but after the attack of Pakistanis with weapons creating grave emergency over his State, he signed the Instrument of Accession to India on 26/10/47. 

Hyderabad remained independent and was joined to India after departure of Mountbatten by military operation, "Operation Polo" over the Nizam and Razakars in September 1948. Plebiscite was conducted to join it to India.

Bhopal Nawab, a friend of Mountbatten and Jinnah, remained separate but realized the will of people and signed the merger to India on 30/4/1949. It was declared 'Part C' State and Shri Shankar Dayal Sharma, the lead agitator for freedom became the youngest CM of Bhopal.

Step-4 (Merger-1)

Princely Unions were created between 1947 and 1949 with the merger of small princely states to make them viable administrative units. It has dissolved the very states whose existence India had only recently guaranteed in the Instruments of Accession. All rulers lost their ruling powers, save one who became the Rajpramukh of the new union. In return for agreeing to the extinction of their states as discrete entities, the rulers were given a privy purse and guarantees similar to those provided under the Merger Agreements.

Meantime, the light of India, Gandhi was assassinated by Godse.

Through this process of merger, Patel obtained the unification of 222 states in the Kathiawar peninsula of his native Gujarat into the princely union of Saurashtra in January 1948, with six more states joining the union the following year. Madhya Bharat merged on 28 May 1948 from a union of Gwalior, Indore and eighteen smaller states. In Punjab, the Patiala and East Punjab States Union was formed on 15 July 1948 from Patiala, Kapurthala, Jind, Nabha,Faridkot, Malerkotla, Nalargarh, and Kalsia. The United State of Rajasthan was formed as the result of a series of mergers, the last of which was completed on 15 May 1949. Travancore and Cochin were merged in the middle of 1949 to form the princely union of Travancore-Cochin.

Subsequently, each of the princely unions, as well as Mysore and Hyderabad, agreed to adopt the Constitution of India as the constitution of that state, thus ensuring that they were placed in exactly the same legal position vis-à-vis the central government as the former British provinces.

Step-5 {Merger-2 Instrument of Merger (Instrument of Attachment)}

Democratisation still left open one important distinction between the former princely states and the former British provinces, namely, that since the princely states had signed limited Instruments of Accession covering only three subjects, they were insulated from government policies in other areas. 

After a meeting in Delhi in May 1948, Rajpramukhs of Princely Unions signed new Instruments of Accession which gave the Government of India the power to pass laws in respect of all matters that fell within the seventh schedule of the Government of India Act 1935. The paramountcy of the GoI was restored. The Rajpramukhs were made monarch, de facto no different from those of the Governors of the former British provinces, thus giving the people of their territories the same measure of responsible government as the people of the rest of India. 

The princely states were granted Privy-purse, a compensation (money) for giving away their properties and revenue-generating assets to Government of India. For some of the princely states, Privy purses are so huge that it ranges up to 20 lakhs per month in 1947.

Step-6 (Republic-1)

The new Constitution of India, for "Union of States" came into force on 26 January 1950, categorized the units in four classes: Part A (9 States, the provinces of British India headed by Governor); Part B (8 States: J&K, Hyderabad, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, PEPSU, Rajasthan, Saurastra and Travancore-Cochin, headed by Rajpramukh); Part C (8 States included both the former Chief Commissioners' provinces and some Princely States, and each was governed by a Chief Commissioner); and Part D, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were administered by a Lieutenant Governor. Balcanization of India was stopped. 

PM Nehru gave full freedom to his DyPM Sardar Patel in his work of integration of India. After completing the greatest roll of building a big nation India, Sardar Patel died on 31/12/1950.

Step-7 (J&K)

J&K was an important territory from the beginning as it has international borders with newly created Pakistan, Soviet Union and China. It's large area of gilgit scardu, etc, were under the direct control of British through a long term lease deed with the Maharaja. Sheikh Abdullah, a friend of Nehru started Quit Kashmir Agitation against the Maharaja. When he was arrested on 15/5/47 and put into jail, Nehru came to Kashmir as his defence counsel. Nehru's entry into the state was blocked by the PM of Kashmir Ramchandra Kak. Nehru was arrested on 22 June and kept at the Dak Bunglow in Domel, close to Muzzafarabad. Nehru returned to Delhi after two days following summon of Gandhiji. It was a native State of Nehru. The Maharaja had signed Standstill Agreement with Pakistan on 14/8/1947. It was therefore kept with the PM in the Ministry of External Affairs, I presume. 

After the attack over Kashmir by Pakistan, it was acceded to India on 27/10/1947 through the Instrument of Accession of four subjects: Defence, External affairs, Communications and Ancillary. Nehru took up the issue to UN with the consent of the GG. As the pre condition of restoration of normalcy as per the UN resolution for plebiscite didn't meet on ground, it couldn't materialized. GoI published a White Paper on J&K in 1948. (Sheikh Abdullah was made PM of J&K on 5/3/48). Later Art 3 of the Constitution of India made J&K as the integral part of Union of India with a special status given under Art. 370 of the Constitution of India. 

On 8/8/1953, the PM of J&K, Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed as PM by Dr. Karan Singh, the Sadr-I-Riyasat of J&K. The DyPM Bakshi Gulam Mohammad (Architect of Morden Kashmir) became PM of J&K. Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and put in jail. Kashmir Conspiracy case was framed against Sheikh Abdullah in 1958. He remained in jail for 11 years. The case was withdrawn in 1964 as diplomatic decision. Under the rule of BGM, the Constitution of India was adopted by J&K legislative assembly in 1956. Therefore, the white paper got abolished, as the unity and integrity of the nation is part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India. The PM of J&K became CM. Governor was appointed by the President of India. The so called mistake of Nehru going to UN in 1948, got rectified in 1956. 


Pondicherry and Karaikal were merged with Republic of India by a referendum in October 1954. A treaty of cession was signed in May 1956, ratified by the French National Assembly in May 1962, de jurecontrol of the enclaves was also transferred.

Step-9 (Republic-2)

To complete the process of making whole of India a Republic, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed the States Reorganisation Commission (Fazal Ali Commission) in December 1953 to reorganise the Indian states. The parliament debated the report of the Commission, passed the bill and the States Reorganisation Act was enacted on 31 August 1956. Under the 7th Constitutional Amendment, changing the basic structure, the existing distinction among Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D states was abolished. The distinction between Part A and Part B states was removed, becoming known simply as "states". A new type of entity, the union territory, replaced the Part C or Part D state. The Rajpramukhs lost their authority, and were replaced as the constitutional heads of state by Governors. These changes finally brought the princely order to an end. 

Nehru played a crucial and lead role in merging North Eastern States of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, etc, into the Indian Union.


In 1961, the Constitution of India was amended to incorporate Dadra and Nagar Haveli into India as a Union Territory.


The last of European colonies Goa was merged with India by defeating Portuguese garrisons the Indian Army on 19 December 1961. UN Security Councilpassed a resolution calling on India to withdraw its troops was defeated by the USSR's veto. 

Step-12 (All equals)

The personal privileges of the princes—the privy purse, the exemption from customs duty, and customary dignities were abolished by Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1971. India victory over Pakistan in 1971 cut Pakistan into two with a creation of new nation Bangladesh.


Government of India signed first a Standstill Agreement and then in 1950 a full treaty with the Chogyal of Sikkim which in effect made it a protectorate which was no longer part of India. India had responsibility for defence, external affairs and communications, and ultimate responsibility for law and order. In April 1973, anti-Chogyal agitation broke out and protestors demanded popular elections. The Sikkim police were unable to control the demonstrations, and Dorji asked India to exercise its responsibility for law and order and intervene. India facilitated negotiations between the Chogyal and Dorji, and produced an agreement, which envisaged the reduction of the Chogyal to the role of a constitutional monarch and the holding of elections based on a new ethnic power-sharing formula. The Chogyal's opponents won an overwhelming victory, and a new Constitution was drafted providing for Sikkim to be associated with the Republic of India. On 10 April 1975, the Sikkim Assembly passed a resolution calling for the state to be fully integrated into India. This resolution was endorsed by 97% of the vote in a referendum held on 14 April 1975, following which the Indian Government amended the constitution to admit Sikkim into India as its 22nd state.


The most credit of merger of Princely States goes to the Bismarck of India the Iron Man Sardar Patel the Deputy PM (Minister of Home Affairs, political head of the department), his Secretary (the right hand) Rav Bahadur Vappala Pangunni Menon (Constitutional Adviser and Political Reforms Commissioner to the last 3 British Viceroys, administrative head of the department) and the Governor General Lord Mountbatten for their diplomatic moves and getting the Instrument of Accession signed; but we shall not forget the other important players and stake holders of the story; the PM of India Jawaharlal Nehru, the ruling Congressman party, the Kings of the States, the bureaucrats, the people and their leaders of the respected States and the environment of democratic freedom in the Country created by the freedom Struggle lead by Gandhi.

One must take a note of the situation of law and order prevailing in the Country, the exchange of people in millions, loss of lives in thousands, war with Pakistan, etc, kept all the major key players Gandhiji, Mountbatten, Nehru and Sardar busy in savings lives and properties with heavy stress on head. 

Having secured the accession, they then proceeded to, in a step-by-step process, secure and extend the central government's authority over these states and transform their administrations until, by 1956, there was little difference between the territories that had formerly been part of British India and those that had been part of princely states. 

Simultaneously, the Government of India, through a combination of diplomatic and military means, acquired de facto and de jure control over the remaining colonial enclaves, which too were integrated into India.

The mergers and cession of powers to the Government of India between 1948 and 1950 contravened the terms of the Instruments of Accession, and were incompatible with the express assurances of internal autonomy and preservation of the princely states which Mountbatten had given the princes and finally with the annexation and merger of the Princely States, the strongest Republic of India was established from 26 January 1950. 

What India lost by way of Pakistan, she more than made up by the merger of the states.

Never in the history, the Country was under one umbrella of people's rule of ballots, what we enjoy at present.

Long live Democracy.

22 December 2015

1. In formation of word PAKISTAN, there was no place for Bengal, therefore, East Bengal came out of it in 1971!

2. Sardar Patel and VP Menon maintain the bond in departure. Both died on December 31; in 1950 and 1965 respectively.


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