Integration of States

About Princely States

  • During British rule, there were around 562 Princely states which covered a total area of approximately 7,12,508 square miles.
  • The princes ruled in about 2/5th part of the Indian sub-continent having 1/3rd part of the population of the British Empire.
  • These princely states included mainly the inaccessible and less fertile tracts of the Indian peninsula.
  • These princely states included from very tiny states like Bilbari (with a population of 27 persons) to very big states like Hyderabad (with a population of 14 million)
  • The common feature of all these states was that they recognised the paramountcy of the British Crown.
  • They enjoyed only as much independence as was allowed to them by the British and the paramount power treated them as feudatory or subordinate states.
  • The British protected the Princes against any threat to their autocratic power, internal or external.
Map of colonial India showing British Provinces and Princely States


  • Clement Attlee in his statement of 20th February, 1947 made it clear that the princely states were free to join either of the two dominions India or Pakistan
  • Later, Under 3rd June Plan, Mountbatten refused to give a sovereign status to the states to prevent the balkanization of the country.
  • During 1946-47, there was a new upsurge of movements among people of the Princely States demanding political rights and elective representation in the constituent assembly
  • Two sessions of the All India State People's Conference were held in Udaipur (1945) and Gwalior (April, 1947), presided over by Nehru.
  • He declared that the states refusing to join the constituent assembly would be treated as hostile.
  • In July 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took charge of the newly formed Ministry of States and V.P. Menon took charge as its secretary.
  • Under Patel's leadership, the incorporation of Indian States took place in two phases.

Carrot and Stick Policy

  • The famous carrot and stick policy was used by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the process of unification of the country.
  • To achieve the complex goal of integration of states he used a skilful combination of baits and threats of mass pressure in both of the phases.
  • Principle baits offered were a generous privy purse, appointment as governor or rajpramukhs etc.
  • Patel also appealed to the patriotic feelings of the princes to join the Indian dominion in matters of defence, external affairs and communication.
  • He also used threats of mass pressure and popular revolt to achieve rapid unification of the country.
  • This carrot and stick policy proved to be immensely successful and barring few errant princes, all the rulers had signed the instrument of accession by the time India got independence.
  • The rapid political unification of India after independence was one of the greatest achievements of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Phases of Integration of Princely States

Phase I

  • By August 15, 1947, all states except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir had signed an Instrument of Accession with the Government of India.
  • By signing this Instrument of Accession the states acknowledged central authority of Indian government over three subjects defence, external affairs and communication.
  • Later, these states felt that a closer association was necessary and a complete Indian jurisdiction over these states was established.
  • Thus the Indian states lost their identity and became part of one uniform political set up.
  • The princes agreed to this arrangement easily because they were surrendering only what they never had under the British Paramountcy and also there was no change in the internal political structure.

Phase II

  • The second phase was much more complex process than the first phase.
  • It mainly involved integration of states with neighbouring provinces or into new administrative units like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kathiawar Union etc.
  • There were also internal constitutional changes in states which retained their old boundaries for some years.
  • The principal bait offered to princes was a very generous privy purse . Some princes were also made governors and rajpramukhs in the independent India.

Integration of Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir


  • The Muslim Nawab of Junagarh wanted to accede to Pakistan.
  • Junagarh had a predominantly Hindu population (approximately 80%) willing to join Indian Union.
  • The population was outraged with the repressive attitude of the Nawab
  • Finally, a plebiscite was held which decided in favour of accession to India.


  • The Nizam of Hyderabad wanted a sovereign status for Hyderabad.
  • To this end, he signed a standstill agreement with India in November 1947.
  • Following this the Indian forces withdrew from the state and Nizam s force and stormtroopers (Razakkars) took over the security and policing functions in the state
  • Nizam wanted an outlet to the sea (Goa).
  • The worsening situation in the state with incidents of violence and inflow of foreign arms and ammunitions prompted Indian troops to move in again in 1948
  • This movement of Indian troops was described as a police action to restore law and order
  • Now, Nizam had no choice but to accede to India. Finally, Hyderabad acceded to Indian union in November 1949.


  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir had a Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh ruling over a predominantly Muslim population.
  • The Prince was reluctant to accede to either of the dominions and wanted a sovereign status for Kashmir.
  • While the Prince procrastinated, Pakistan sent an army of armed tribesman backed by its national army to invade Kashmir.
  • Now, the desperate Maharaja Hari Singh offered to sign an instrument of accession with the Indian union, endorsed by the popular leader Sheikh Abdullah.
  • Immediately, the Indian troops were dispatched to defend Kashmir against the militia from Pakistan.
  • Later, India reached out to United Nations Security Council with an offer to settle the status of the state of Kashmir through a plebiscite, which led to a ceasefire.
  • Under article 370 of the constitution, a special status was accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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