Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 19 April
Q. “A silent revolution was achieved by Sardar Patel by ensuring the absorption and assimilation of a multitude principalities with great skill and masterful diplomacy and using both persuasion and pressure.” Elucidate. [20 Marks]
In colonial India, nearly 40 percent of the territory was occupied by about 600 small and large states ruled by princess who enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy under the system of British paramountcy. British power protected them from their own people as also from external aggression so long as they did British bidding.
In 1947, the future of the princely states once the British left became a matter of concern. Many of the larger states began to dream of independence and to scheme for it. They claimed that the paramountcy could not be transferred to the new states of India and Pakistan. Their ambitions were fuelled by Clement Attlee’s statement that “His majesty’s Government do not intend to hand over their powers and obligations under paramountcy to any government of British India”.
Further they got encouragement from M.A Jinnah who publicly declared that ‘states would be independent sovereign states and would be free to remain independent if they so desired.
Need for integration
The Indian nationalists could hardly accept such scenario where the unity of free India would be endangered by hundreds of large and small independent or autonomous states interspersed within which were sovereign.
The people of the states had participated in the process of nation-in-the making from the end of nineteenth century and developed strong feelings of Indian nationalism.
People of the states were integral part of the Indian democratic political order and integration with rest of the country was their right, even if the leader of the state had different stand.
Sardar Patel skill of persuasion and pressure
“The Iron Man of India” assumed additional charge of newly created States’ Department with V.P Menon as secretary. Patel knew that ‘the situation held dangerous potentialities and that if it was not held promptly, hard earned freedom might disappear.
Patel and Menon adopted policy of carrot and stick.
Skill of persuasion
The official policy statement of the Government of India made by Patel on 5 July 1947 made no threats. Instead, it emphasised the unity of India and the common interests of the princes and independent India, reassured them about the Congress’ intentions, and invited them to join independent India “to make laws sitting together as friends than to make treaties as aliens”. He reiterated that the States Department would not attempt to establish a relationship of domination over the princely states. Patel and Menon backed up their diplomatic efforts by producing treaties that were designed to be attractive to rulers of princely states. Two key documents were produced.
- The first was the Standstill Agreement, which confirmed that the agreements and administrative practices that existed as between the princely state in question and the British would be continued by India.
- The second was the Instrument of Accession, by which the ruler of the princely state in question agreed to the accession of his kingdom to independent India, and to granting India control over specified subject matters. Patel appealed to the princes whose territories fell inside India to accede to the Indian Union in three subjects which affected the common interests of the country, namely, foreign relations, defence and communications. Some states joined the Constituent Assembly in April 1947 by their choice by signing Instrument of Accession.
Patel also gave an implied threat that he would not be able to restrain the impatient people of the states and the government’s terms after 15 August would be stiffer apart from appealing to some nationalist native rulers for integration in national interest. This shows how diplomatically he dealt with them and resulted in peaceful integration. Fearful of the rising tide of the peoples’ movements in their states, and of the more extreme agenda of the radical wing of the Congress, as also Patel’s reputation for firmness and even ruthlessness, the princes responded to Patel’s appeal and all but three of them—Junagadh, Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad— acceded to India by 15 August 1947. By the end of 1948, however, the three recalcitrant states too were forced to fall in line.
Skill of pressure
Junagadh was a small state on the coast of Saurashtra surrounded by Indian territory and therefore without any geographical contiguity with Pakistan. Yet, its Nawab announced accession of his state to Pakistan on 15 August 1947 even though the people of the state, overwhelmingly Hindu, desired to join India. Pakistan accepted Junagadh’s accession.
On the other hand, the people of the state would not accept the ruler’s decision. They organized a popular movement, forced the Nawab to flee and established a provisional government. Indian troops thereafter marched into the state. A plebiscite was held in the state in February 1948 which went overwhelmingly in favour of joining India.
The state of Kashmir bordered on both India and Pakistan. Its ruler Hari Singh was a Hindu, while nearly 75 per cent of the population was Muslim. Hari Singh too did not accede either to India or Pakistan. Pakistan under disguise of Pathans invaded Kashmir, Maharaja came for help to India. Under international law India could send its troops to Kashmir only after the state’s formal accession to India. The Maharaja acceded to India and then Indian troops were send to Kashmir. The matter was referred UN where resolution providing for a referendum under UN supervision after Pakistan had withdrawn its troops from the part of Kashmir under its control.
Hyderabad was the largest state in India and was completely surrounded by Indian territory. The Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to stay independent, he was increasing his forces. Patel made it clear that India would not tolerate ‘an isolated spot which would destroy the very Union which we have built up with our blood and toil’.
Nizam had raised is army of Razakars who were attacking people. There was uprising in Telangana and other movements were going against the Nizam. Patel waited for months for peaceful agreement but when people were not able to bear the bad administration of Nizam the Indian army moved into Hyderabad (Operation Polo) calling it a police action. The Nizam surrendered after three days and acceded to the Indian Union in November. The Government of India decided to be generous and not punish the Nizam. He was retained as formal ruler of the state or its Rajpramukh, was given a privy purse of Rs 5 million, and permitted to keep most of his immense wealth.
With the accession of Hyderabad, the merger of princely states with the Indian Union was completed, and the Government of India’s writ ran all over the land.
Full integration of the princely states
The second and the more difficult stage of the full integration of the princely states into the new Indian nation began in December 1947. Once again Sardar Patel moved with speed, completing the process within one year. Smaller states were either merged with the neighbouring states or merged together to ‘form centrally administered areas’. A large number were consolidated into five new unions, forming Madhya Bharat, Rajasthan, Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Saurashtra and Travancore-Cochin; Mysore, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir retained their original form as separate states of the Union. In return for their surrender of all power and authority, the rulers of major states were given privy purses in perpetuity, free of all taxes. The privy purses amounted to Rs 4.66 crore in 1949 and were later guaranteed by the constitution. The rulers were allowed succession to the gaddi and retained certain privileges such as keeping their titles, flying their personal flags and gun salutes on ceremonial occasions. Thus appeasing, diplomacy, persuasion was again used.
Patel’s carrot and stick method to integrate princely states can be summarized as:
- aroused spirit of nationalism in rulers
- promised protection of their traditional rights (during accession)
- promised autonomy in internal matters and asked only for surrender of defence, external affairs and communication subjects
- assured the provisions of a new constitution wouldn’t apply to them
- offered privy purses, retention of personal property and titles, inducements of Governorships as ‘Rajapramukhs’ (during integration)
- emphasized that without integration their economies would collapse resulting in situation of anarchy
- used threat of popular protest
- encouraged Praja Mandals to agitate for accession to India – Travancore, Mysore, Kathiawar, Orissa
- cut off critical supplies and lines of communication to Junagadh
- threat of military action
- use of military occupation – Junagadh
- use of police action – Hyderabad (Operation Polo)
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