Assess the main administrative issues and socio-cultural problems in the integration process of Indian Princely States. UPSC GS Paper 1 2021, 10 Marks

Q3. Assess the main administrative issues and socio-cultural problems in the integration process of Indian Princely States. (150 words) 10 Marks

Q3. भारतीय रियासतों के एकीकरण की प्रक्रिया में मुख्य प्रशासनिक मुद्दों एवं सामाजिक-सांस्कृतिक समस्याओं का आकलन कीजिए । (150 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए)


While the British were departing India after nearly 200 years of rule, Indian authorities faced a difficult task: uniting and integrating a major portion of the country into a single political unit. When dealing with princely states, this was a huge issue. Despite the fact that the British ruled a large portion of British India directly, there were several princely states that were ruled indirectly by the British. After India and Pakistan were partitioned, there were still over 500 tiny princely states in India that were not part of the two countries.

The problem in front of Indian leaders was twofold.

  • Of transforming the states into viable administrative units;
  • Of absorbing them into the constitutional units.

Challenges with Princely states were:

  • During India’s declaration of independence, Britain stated that princely states could either join India or Pakistan, or they could remain independent.
  • This clause caused a lot of uncertainty.
  • The rulers of princely states were unable to contemplate relinquishing their power under the Indian Constituent Assembly.
  • For a variety of reasons, these governments used varied administrative techniques; some were aristocratic, others had substantial contrasts between them, and people with different beliefs, attitudes, and cultures, to name a few.
  • Following the end of British supremacy, princely kingdoms began to want independence.
  • It was thought that after the British left, the situation in the Princely states would devolve into lawlessness and disorder, and that having ties to a power centre would help to manage the situation.
  • The emergence of hundreds of separate states will render India’s freedom effort worthless.
  • As a result, princely state merger became a top priority for Indian authorities.
  • By August 15, 1947, rulers of all 652 states had signed the Instrument of Accession, with the exception of Junagarh, Kashmir, and Hyderabad.
  • The Nawab of Junagadh wanted to join Pakistan, but his people preferred Indian sovereignty.
  • Hyderabad aspired to be a sovereign state.
  • Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu ruler and had a Muslim majority. The prince envisioned the state as an autonomous entity, and he was hesitant to join either India or Pakistan.
  • The integration process was hampered by three significant issues: first, their aspiration for independence, second, their desire to integrate with Pakistan, and third, the difficulties of administrative integration following political integration.
  • Pakistan was also influencing these states’ decisions by providing them financial and political incentives if they acceded to Pakistan. For Indian leaders, this was a major headache.


integration process of Indian Princely States

The following are the steps taken to overcome these obstacles:

  • Viceroy Lord Mountbatten and Congress leaders began negotiations with the rulers to guarantee that princely states did not succeed in their drive for independence.
  • Sardar Patel, the principal architect of India’s creation, appealed to monarchs’ patriotic feelings to join the Indian dominion in terms of defence, communication, and foreign affairs.
  • The rulers consented to transfer control of Defense, External Affairs, and Communication under the terms of an Instrument of Accession (IoA).
  • Various states have joined the Indian Union, but others were still on the verge of leaving.
  • In the event that the Hyderabad force was employed, a plebiscite was held in Junagadh, and the Maharaja of J&K signed an IoA after Pakistan threatened to attack.
  • The act of joining did not imply integration. Following the British exit, princely states formed the States Peoples Congress, which demanded full democratic representation.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took use of the chance to negotiate for full integration into India, promising the monarchs tax-free privy purses, the right to keep their titles, property, and palaces in exchange.
  • Part A-Chhattisgarh, Gujarat-incorporating minor states into contiguous provinces.
  • At the same time, other states, such as Himachal Pradesh and Manipur, will be administered centrally for strategic or exceptional reasons mentioned in Part C.
  • After two years of independence, the country was fully integrated. Apart from the diplomatic manoeuvrings of Congress leaders, the integration process was propelled by popular outcry and demands.


Overall, India was able to incorporate all of the princely kingdoms in its territory within a few years of independence through smart diplomacy, persuasion, and the timely use of force. India was able to apply better methods for better integration of states through democratic centralised credentials of Indian state, resulting in a strong sense of togetherness among diverse states after all these years after independence.


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