Freedom Struggle In Princely India

Freedom Struggle In Princely India

The varied pattern of the British conquest of India, as well as the various stratagems used to bring different parts of the country under colonial rule, resulted in Indian princes ruling over two-fifths of the subcontinent. The Princes ruled over Indian states like Hyderabad, Mysore, and Kashmir, which were the size of many European countries, as well as numerous small states with populations in the thousands. The one thing they all had in common was that they all acknowledged the supremacy of the British government, big or small. In exchange, the British promised to protect the Princes from any internal or external threat to their autocratic power. 
 
Freedom Struggle In Princely India

Rise of freedom struggle in princely state:

•    The majority of princely states were run as unrestricted autocracies, with absolute power concentrated in the hands of the ruler or his close associates. 
 
•    The land tax burden was typically higher than in British India, and there were typically fewer rules of law and civil liberties. 
 
•    The rulers had unrestricted access to state funds for personal use, which frequently resulted in opulent living and waste. 
 
•    From time to time, some of the more enlightened rulers and their ministers attempted to introduce reforms in the administration, the taxation system, and even granted the people powers to participate in government. 
 
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•    However, for reasons that were not entirely their own, the vast majority of the States were economic, social, political, and educational backwaters.
 
•    The British Government was ultimately to blame for the situation that the Indian States found themselves in during the twentieth century. The Princes were increasingly called upon to act as "bulwarks of reaction" as the national movement grew in strength. Any support for nationalism, such as that expressed by the Maharaja of Baroda, was viewed with suspicion. 
 
•    The constant surveillance and interference exercised by British residents drained many a potential reformer among the rulers of initiative. 
 
•    However, there were honourable exceptions, and some states, such as Baroda and Mysore, were able to significantly promote industrial and agricultural development, administrative and political reforms, and education.
 

Participation in freedom struggle:

The Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement, which began in 1920, exerted a far greater influence; numerous local organisations of the people of the States arose around this time and under its influence. 
 
Mysore, Hyderabad, Baroda, the Kathiawad States, the Deccan States, Jamnagar, Indore, and Nawanagar were among the states where praja mandals or State People's Conferences were held. 
 
The All India States' People's Conference (AISPC), which drew 700 political workers from across the country, brought this process to a head in December 1927. Baiwantrai Mehta, Manikial Kothari, and G.R. Abhayankar were the men in charge of this initiative. 
 
The Indian National Congress' policy toward Indian states was first articulated in Nagpur in 1920, when a resolution was passed calling on the princes to grant full responsible government in their states. Simultaneously, while allowing residents of the States to become members of the Congress, the Congress made it clear that they could not initiate political activity in the States in the name of Congress, but only in their individual capacities or as members of local political organisations. 
 
Given the vast differences in political conditions between British India and the States, as well as between the States themselves, the general lack of civil liberties, including freedom of association, the people's relative political backwardness, and the fact that the Indian States were legally independent entities, these restraints were understandable. The emphasis was on citizens of the state’s building their own strength and demonstrating their willingness to fight for their demands.
 
Role of INC:
•    Informal ties between the congress and various organisations representing the people of the states, including the AISPC, have always been strong. 
 
•    The Congress reaffirmed the resolution of 1920 in 1927, and again in 1929. ‘The Indian states cannot live apart from the rest of India... the only people who have a right to determine the future of the states must be the people of those states,' declared Jawaharlal Nehru in his presidential address to the famous Lahore Congress.
 
•    The Congress later demanded that the Princes guarantee their people's fundamental rights. Two related events in the mid-1930s resulted in a significant shift in the situation in the Indian states. 
 
1.    First, the Government of India Act of 1935 proposed a federation scheme in which Indian states would be brought into a direct constitutional relationship with British India and would send representatives to the Federal Legislative Assembly.
 
•    The catch was that these representatives would be Princes' nominees rather than democratically elected people's representatives. 
 
•    They would make up one-third of the Federal legislature's total membership and act as a solid conservative block capable of thwarting nationalist pressures. 
 
•    The Indian National Congress, the AISPC, and other people's organisations saw right through this imperialist manoeuvre and demanded that the States be represented by people's elected representatives rather than the Princes' nominees. 
 
•    The demand for responsible democratic government in the United States took on a new urgency as a result of this.
 
2.    The assumption of office by Congress Ministries in the majority of British India's provinces in 1937 was the second development. 
 
•    The fact that the Congress was in power instilled in the people of the Indian States a new sense of confidence and expectation, spurring them to engage in more political activity. 
 
•    The Princes, too, had to deal with a new political reality: the Congress was no longer just an opposition party, but a powerhouse with the ability to shape events in neighbouring Indian states. 
 
Freedom Struggle In Princely India
•    In fact, the years 1938-1939 stand out as years of a new awakening in the Indian States, with a slew of movements demanding responsible government and other reforms. Many States that had previously had no such organisations sprouted praja mandals. 
 
Major clashes erupted in the Indian states of Jaipur, Kashmir, Rajkot, Patiala, Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Orissa. These new developments also resulted in a significant shift in congressional policy. 
 
•    Despite the fact that the Congress had reiterated its policy at the Haripura session in 1938 that movements in the States should not be launched in the name of the Congress but should rely on their own independent strength and fight through local organisations, the Congress changed its mind a few months later after witnessing the new spirit that was sweeping the country and the people's capacity to struggle. On this issue, Gandhiji and the Congress changed their minds. For a long time, radicals and socialists in Congress, as well as political workers in the United States, had been pushing for this change.
 
•    In 1939, the AISPC elected Jawaharlal Nehru as its President for the Ludhiana session, effectively bringing the Princely India and British India movements together. The outbreak of World War II marked a significant shift in the political landscape. 
 
•    Ministers from the Congress resigned, the government armed itself with the Defence of India Rules, and political activity was tolerated less in the states as well. With the launch of the Quit India Movement in 1942, things heated up once more. 
 
The Congress did not make a distinction between British India and the Indian States this time, and the call for struggle was extended to the people of the States as well. The people of the States formally joined the struggle for Indian independence, and they demanded that the British leave India and that the States become integral parts of the Indian nation, in addition to demanding responsible government.

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