Decolonisation to Political Integration of India




Decolonisation to Political Integration of India:

Decolonisation’ is the process of ending the colonial rule and handing over the political and administrative power to local people by the colonialists. Opposition to colonialism, the struggle for independence and the nations under colonisation regaining their independence are the three stages of the decolonisation process. India became independent on 15th August 1947. However, at that time there existed the several Princely States in India, which were ruled by the hereditary rulers under British suzerainty. These states were given the choice to decide whether to accede to India or not. If these states had decided against it, then it would have become very difficult to create the Indian Union. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India pursued most of the rulers of these states in favour of acceding to India so that political integration of India could be possible. 

When India gained independence, there were more than 600 princely states of various size. Their political integration was the biggest challenge faced by the leaders of independent India. There was political awakening in the Princely States because of Non-Co-operation movement. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel handled the situation with great skill and tact. He took a conciliatory approach and won the confidence of the rulers of these states. With the exception of Junagadh, Hyderabad, and Kashmir remaining states responded positively to the appeal and merged in India. Later, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel adopted a stern policy and resolved the problem of the accession of those states, who were unwilling to accede.

Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel popularly known as Sardar Patel was an Indian politician. He served as the First Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was an Indian barrister and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress who played a leading role in the country's struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. In India and elsewhere, he was often called Sardar, meaning "chief" in Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. He acted as Home Minister during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.

Patel took charge of the integration of the princely states into India. This achievement formed the cornerstone of Patel's popularity in the post-independence era. Even today he is remembered as the man who united India. He is, in this regard, compared to Otto von Bismarck who unified the many German states in 1871. Under the plan of 3 June, more than 565 princely states were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan or choosing independence. Indian nationalists and large segments of the public feared that if these states did not accede, most of the people and territory would be fragmented. The Congress, as well as senior British officials, considered Patel the best man for the task of achieving conquest of the princely states by the Indian dominion. Gandhi had said to Patel, "The problem of the States is so difficult that you alone can solve it".Patel was considered a statesman of integrity with the practical acumen and resolve to accomplish a monumental task. He asked V. P. Menon, a senior civil servant with whom he had worked on the partition of India, to become his right-hand man as chief secretary of the States Ministry. On 6 August 1947, Patel began lobbying the princes, attempting to make them receptive towards dialogue with the future government and forestall potential conflicts. Patel used social meetings and unofficial surroundings to engage most of the monarchs, inviting them to lunch and tea at his home in Delhi. At these meetings, Patel explained that there was no inherent conflict between the Congress and the princely order. Patel invoked the patriotism of India's monarchs, asking them to join in the independence of their nation and act as responsible rulers who cared about the future of their people. He persuaded the princes of 565 states of the impossibility of independence from the Indian republic, especially in the presence of growing opposition from their subjects. He proposed favourable terms for the merger, including the creation of privy purses for the rulers' descendants. While encouraging the rulers to act out of patriotism, Patel did not rule out force. Stressing that the princes would need to accede to India in good faith, he set a deadline of 15 August 1947 for them to sign the instrument of accession document. All but three of the states willingly merged into the Indian union; only Jammu and Kashmir, Junagadh, and Hyderabad did not fall into his basket.


In February 1948, Junagadh merged in India.In the independence and partition of British India of 1947, the 552 princely states were given a choice to either join the new Dominion of India or the newly formed state of Pakistan.

The Nawab of Junagadh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III, a Muslim whose ancestors had ruled Junagadh and small principalities for some two hundred years, decided that Junagadh should become part of Pakistan, much to the displeasure of many of the people of the state, an overwhelming majority of whom were Hindus, about 80%. The Nawab acceded to the Dominion of Pakistan on 15 August 1947, against the advice of Lord Mountbatten, arguing that Junagadh joined Pakistan by sea. The principality of Babariawad and Sheikh of Mangrol reacted by claiming independence from Junagadh and accession to India, although the Sheikh of Mangrol withdrew his accession to India the very next day. Muhammad Ali Jinnah waited for a month to accept the Instrument of Accession, to see if Nehru would make the argument that a Hindu majority under a Muslim ruler than he would respond with Kashmir's case being the same. When Pakistan accepted the Nawab's Instrument of Accession on 16 September, the Government of India was outraged that Muhammad Ali Jinnah could accept the accession of Junagadh despite his argument that Hindus and Muslims could not live as one nation. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel believed that if Junagadh was permitted to go to Pakistan, it would exacerbate the communal tension already simmering in Gujarat.

The princely state was surrounded on all of its land borders by India, with an outlet onto the Arabian Sea. The unsettled conditions in Junagadh had led to a cessation of all trade with India and the food position became precarious. With the region in crisis, the Nawab, fearing for his life, felt forced to flee to Karachi with his family and his followers, and there he established a provisional government.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel offered Pakistan time to reverse its acceptance of the accession and to hold a plebiscite in Junagadh. Meanwhile, tensions were simmering in the regional areas and in major cities such as Bombay against Nawab's decision. 25,000 - 30,000 people belonging to Saurashtra and Junagadh gathered in Bombay, proclaiming to "liberate" Junagadh from the Nawab's regime. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile, the Aarzi Hukumat of the people of Junagadh. Eventually, Patel ordered the forcible annexation of Junagadh's three principalities. Junagadh's state government, facing financial collapse and lacking forces with which to resist Indian force, invited the Government of India to take control. A plebiscite was conducted in December, in which approximately 99.95% of the people chose India over Pakistan

Hyderabad Freedom Struggle:

Hyderabad was the largest amongst the princely states in India. It comprised Telugu, Kannada and Marathi regional sections. It was ruled by Nizam. He put restrictions on the civil and political rights of his subjects to a great extent. To fight against the suppressive policies of Nizam people of the state established various organisations, namely. ‘Andhra Parishad’ in Telangana, ‘Maharashtra Parishad’ in Marathawada and ‘Karnataka Parishad’ in Karnataka. Swami Ramanand Tirtha led Hyderabad freedom struggle skillfully with the help of loyal workers of these three organisations. Swami Ramanand He founded the ‘Hyderbad Tirth State Congress’ and gave momentum to the struggle for Hyderabad’s accession.

The ‘Hyderabad State Congress’ passed a resolution in favour of Hyderabad’s merger in India. It was opposed by Nizam for the fear of losing his hold. He was willing to join Pakistan. The people were in favour of India while the ruler was in favour of Pakistan. Kasim Razvi, who could exercise considerable influence over Nizam, founded an organisation called ‘Razakar’. Kasim Razvi and his organisation practised many atrocities against the people who were fighting for democracy. Nizam was adamant on his policies. He was averse to any negotiations and closed all channels of mediation. Ultimately the Indian Government launched a police campaign against Nizam. This campaign was named as ‘Operation Polo’. On 17th September 1948, Nizam finally surrendered and Hyderabad state was merged in India.

The Kashmir Issue:

Hari Singh, the ruling king of the State of Kashmir, had decided neither to join India nor Pakistan after India’s independence. However, Pakistan had plans to annex Kashmir to its territory. Therefore, Pakistan began to pressurise King Hari Singh. On 22nd October 1947, armed bands of intruders attacked Kashmir from the Pakistan border. King Hari Singh, who wanted to maintain independent status, asked India for help. On 27th October 1947, he consented to merge Kashmir in India and officially submitted the Agreement (Instrument of Accession) to the Government of India. The Indian Army was sent for Kashmir’s protection. It captured a significant portion of Kashmir’s territory that was acquired by the armed intruders from the Pakistani border, however, they managed to keep their hold on some portion. In 1948, India presented the Kashmir issue in ‘United Nations’. Thus, the Kashmir issue became an international issue. Even the ‘United Nations’ could not persuade Pakistan to withdraw their troops from the territory of Kashmir occupied by them. However, then the ‘National Conference Party’ decided on a plebiscite to solve the issue and to accede Kashmir to India. The constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was drafted and since then Jammu- Kashmir has been an integral part of the Republic of India. It was accorded special status under ‘Article 370’.

Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a region located in the northern part of Indian subcontinent which was administered by India as a state from 1954 to 31 October 2019, conferring it with the power to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state. The Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir is part of the larger region of Kashmir which has been a subject of dispute since 1947 between India, Pakistan and, partly, China,

The article was drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution titled "Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions".The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, after its establishment, was empowered to recommend the articles of the Indian constitution that should be applied to the state or to abrogate the Article 370 altogether. After consultation with the state's Constituent Assembly, the 1954 Presidential Order was issued, specifying the articles of the Indian constitution that applied to the state. Since the Constituent Assembly dissolved itself without recommending the abrogation of Article 370, the article was deemed to have become a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution.

This article, along with Article 35A, defined that the Jammu and Kashmir state's residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to residents of other Indian states. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.

On 5 August 2019, the Government of India issued a constitutional order superseding the 1954 order, and making all the provisions of the Indian constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir based on the resolution passed in both houses of India's parliament with 2/3 majority. Following the resolutions passed in both houses of the parliament, he issued a further order on 6 August declaring all the clauses of Article 370 except clause 1 to be inoperative.

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