Thursday, August 23, 2007

The political integration of India established a united nation for the first time in centuries from a plethora of princely states, colonial provinces and possessions. Despite partition, a new India united peoples of various geographic, economic, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. The process began in 1947, with the unification of 565 princely states through a critical series of political campaigns, sensitive diplomacy and military conflicts. India was transformed after independence through political upheaval and ethnic discontent, and continues to evolve as a federal republic natural to its diversity. The process is defined by sensitive religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, diverse ethnic populations, as well as by geo-political rivalry and military conflicts with Pakistan and China.
When the Indian independence movement succeeded in ending the British Raj on August 15, 1947, India's leaders faced the prospect of inheriting a nation fragmented between medieval-era kingdoms and provinces organised by colonial powers. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of India's most respected freedom fighters, as the new Minister of Home Affairs was the man responsible for employing political negotiations backed with the option (and the use) of military force to ensure the primacy of the Central government and of the Constitution then being drafted.
India's constitution pronounced it a Union of States, exemplifying a federal system with a strong central government. Over the course of the two decades following Independence the Government of India reclaimed the possessions of the French Empire and Portugal. But the trend changed as popular movements arose for the recognition of regional languages, and attention for the special issues of diverse regions. A backlash ensued against centralization — the lack of attention and respect for regional issues resulted in cultural alienation and violent separatism. The Central government attempted to balance the use of force on separatist extremists with the creation of new States in order to reduce the pressures on the Indian State. The map has been redrawn, as the nature of the federation transforms. Today, the Republic of India is a Union of 28 states and 7 territories.

British India

Main article: List of Indian Princely States Princely states
The states of Gwalior, Bikaner, Patiala and Baroda were the first to join India on April 28, 1947. Others were wary, distrusting a democratic government led by revolutionaries of uncertain, and possibly radical views, and fearful of losing their influence as rulers. Travancore and Hyderabad announced their desire for independence while the Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan, expressed his desire to either negotiate with Pakistan or seek independence. The Nawab was a powerful influence on a number of princes, as he was the former chancellor of the Chamber of Princes. In addition, Jodhpur, Indore and Jaisalmer conducted a dialogue with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the slated Governor-General of Pakistan, to discuss terms for a possible accession to it. While this surprised many in both India and Pakistan, neither party could ultimately ignore the fact that these kingdoms were Hindu-majority, which rendered their membership in overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan untenable.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the Minister for Home and States Affairs, and was given the explicit responsibility of welding a united and strategically secure India in time for the transfer of power. Patel was considered the best man for the task by the Congress Party, as well as Lord Mountbatten and senior British officials. Mahatma Gandhi had, in fact, said to Patel "the problem of the States is so difficult that you alone can solve it". for his decisive actions at this time.

Process of accession
Sardar Patel and V.P. Menon devised a formula to propose to the monarchs. The Instrument of Accession was the official treaty to be signed between the Government of India or the Government of Pakistan and the accession candidates. According to the basic tenets of the treaty, the Government of India would control only foreign affairs, defence and communications, leaving all internal issues to be administered by the states. On July 5, 1947, the official policy of the Government of India was released, and stated:
Considering that the princes had to sign away the sovereignty of states where their families had reigned for centuries, and that they believed that India's security would be jeopardised if even one state refused to sign on, Patel and Menon were of the opinion that this was the best deal that could be put to the princes. While negotiating with the states, Patel and Menon also guaranteed that monarchs who signed on willingly would be retained as constitutional heads of state, although they would be 'encouraged' to hand their power over to an elected government. Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, the state would be represented in the Constituent Assembly of India, thus becoming an active participant in framing the new Constitution.

Instrument of accession
On May 6, 1947, Patel began lobbying the princes, attempting to make them receptive towards dialogue with the future Government and trying to forestall potential conflicts. Patel used social meetings and unofficial surroundings to engage most monarchs, inviting them to lunch and tea at his home in Delhi. At these meetings, Patel would claim that there was no inherent conflict between the Congress and the princely order. Nonetheless, he stressed that Congress expected the princes to accede to India in good faith before the deadline, August 15, 1947. Patel also listened to the monarchs' opinions, seeking to address their two chief concerns:
Patel invoked the patriotism of India's monarchs, asking them to join in the freedom of their nation and act as responsible rulers who cared about the future of their people. V. P. Menon was frequently dispatched to hold talks with the ministers and monarchs. Menon would work each day with Patel, calling him twice, including a final status report in the night. Menon was Patel's closest advisor and aide on the diplomacy and tactics, and handling of potential conflicts, as well as his link with British officials. Patel also enlisted Lord Mountbatten, who was trusted by most of the princes and was a personal friend of many, especially the Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan. Mountbatten was also a credible figure because Jawaharlal Nehru and Patel had asked him to become the first Governor General of the Dominion of India. In a July, 1947 gathering of rulers, Mountbatten laid out his argument:
Mountbatten stressed that he would act as the trustee of the princes' commitment, as he would be serving as India's head of state well into 1948. Mountbatten engaged in a personal dialogue with the Nawab of Bhopal. He asked through a confidential letter to him, that he sign the instrument of accession, which Mountbatten would keep locked up in his safe. It would be handed to the States Department on August 15 only if the Nawab did not change his mind before then, which he was free to do. The Nawab agreed, and did not renege over the deal.

The princes feared that the Congress would be hostile to the princely order, attacking their property and, indeed, their civil liberties. They were moved to this concern by the fact that a large proportion of Congress was of socialist inclination. Patel, no socialist himself, promised personally that the Congress, would not politically attack the Indian princes nor deprive them of any more political power or property than was 'necessary' for the stability and unity of India.
Patel assured the monarchs of the states that after acceding to India, they would be allowed to retain their property and estates. Further, they would be fully eligible to run for public office.
For the loss of income (from revenue), the monarchs would be compensated with a privy purse.
The princes were also worried that the guarantees offered by Patel while the British were still in charge would be scrapped after August 15. Patel thus had to promise to include the guarantees of privy purses and limited central powers in the as yet unframed Constitution. Patel's diplomacy
From June to August 15, 1947, 562 of the 565 India-linked states signed the instrument of accession. Despite dramatic political exchanges, Travancore, Jodhpur and Indore signed on time. Patel was also willing to take on other Indian leaders for the sake of accomplishing the job. The privy purse pledge was offensive to many socialists, and Prime Minister Nehru had complained of Patel by-passing the Cabinet to make the pledge to the Princes. Patel described the pledge as an essential guarantee of the Government's intentions, and it was duly incorporated into the Constitution. (In 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Congress Party would repeal the clause through a constitutional amendment.) Patel defended their right to retain property and contest elections for public office, and today, especially in states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, descendants of the formerly royal families play an important role in politics.
However, in the strenuous process of integration three major conflicts arose that posed a major threat to the Union:

Accession of the states

Main article: Indian Integration of Junagadh Junagadh

Main article: History of the Kashmir conflictPolitical integration of India Hyderabad
Different theories have been proposed to explain the designs of Indian and Pakistani leaders in this period. Rajmohan Gandhi postulates that an ideal deal working in the mind of Patel was that if Muhammad Ali Jinnah let India have Junagadh and Hyderabad, Patel would not object to Kashmir acceding to Pakistan. In her book The Sole Spokesman, Ayesha Jalal argues that Jinnah had never actually wanted partition, but once created, he wanted Pakistan to become a secular state that was inclusive to its Hindu minority and strategically secure from a geographically-larger India, thus encouraging Hindu states to join. When Jinnah remained adamant about Junagadh, and when the invasion of Kashmir began in September 1947, Patel exerted himself over the defense and integration of Kashmir into India. India and Pakistan clashed over Kashmir in 1965 and 1971, as well as over the sovereignty of the Rann of Kutch in August, 1965.

Conflicting agendas
Many of the 565 states that had joined the Union were very small and lacked resources to sustain their economies and support their growing populations. Many published their own currency, imposed restrictions and their own tax rules that impeded free trade. Although Prajamandals (People's Conventions) had been organised to increase democracy, a contentious debate opened over dissolving the very states India promised to officially recognise just months ago. Challenged by princes, Sardar Patel and V. P. Menon emphasized that without integration, the economies of states would collapse, and anarchy would arise if the princes were unable to provide democracy and govern properly. In December 1947, over 40 states in central and eastern India were merged into the Central Provinces and Orissa. Similarly, Patel also obtained the unification of 222 states in the Kathiawar peninsula of his native Gujarat. In a meeting with the rulers, Menon said:
In Punjab, the Patiala and East Punjab States Union was formed. Madhya Bharat and Vindhya Pradesh emerged from the princely states of the former Central India Agency. Himachal Pradesh was created from 30 states of the former Punjab Hill States Agency. A few large states, including Mysore, Kutch, and Bilaspur, remained distinct, but a great many more were merged into the provinces. The Northeast Frontier Agency (present-day Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland) was administered by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Governor of Assam. The Constitution of India, adopted on January 26, 1950 gave the states many powers, but the Union government had superior powers — including dissolving state governments if law and order were disrupted. National institutions were emphasized to prevent factionalism and separatism. A common judiciary and the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service were created to erect a single government infrastructure. The united leadership to fight social, economic challenges of India for the first time in thousands of years was welcomed by most Indians.

Political integration of India Integrating the Union
See also: French India, Portuguese India
In the 1950s, the regions of Pondicherry, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahe and Chandernagore were still colonies of France, and Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Goa remained as colonies of Portugal. The lodges in Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat were ceded to India in October 1947. An agreement between France and India in 1948 agreed to an election in France's remaining Indian possessions to choose their political future. Chandernagore was ceded to India on May 2, 1950, and was merged with West Bengal on October 2, 1955. On November 1, 1954, the four enclaves of Pondicherry, Yanaon, Mahe, and Karikal were de facto transferred to the Indian Union and became the Union territory of Pondicherry. Portugal had resisted diplomatic solutions, and refused to transfer power. Dadra and Nagar Haveli were incorporated into India in 1953 after bands of Indian irregulars occupied the lands, but Goa, Daman and Diu remained a bone of contention.
Arbitration by the World Court and the United Nations General Assembly favoured self-determination, but Portugal resisted all overtures from India. On December 18, 1961, in what Prime Minister Nehru termed as a police action, the Indian Army liberated Goa, Daman and Diu. The Portuguese surrendered on December 19, and 3,000 Portuguese soldiers became prisoners of war. This take-over ended the last of the European colonies in India. In 1987, Goa achieved statehood.

Pondicherry and Goa

Main article: States Reorganization Act States reorganization
A culture of centralization was resented across many regions — it stifled regional autonomy and cultural identity. Inefficiency, corruption and economic stagnation in 1960s and 1970s aided this argument. Although Punjab was one of the most prosperous states, demands for greater autonomy and statehood arose. In 1966, Punjab was divided into Sikh-majority Punjab and Hindu-majority Haryana, with their joint capital in Chandigarh, a union territory. Certain northern districts were allocated to Himachal Pradesh. Jawaharlal Nehru had opposed creating separate states for different religious communities, but it was carried out by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who faced pressure from the SGPC and leaders like Master Tara Singh. When the Khalistan insurgency created turmoil in the 1980s, the Army attacked militant encampments in the Golden Temple. Neglect and discrimination by the Union government, as well as poverty and cultural aversion resulted in violence against refugees from Bangladesh and other settlers. The ULFA insurgency paralyzed Assam in the 1980s. Similar tensions in Mizoram and Tripura forced the Indian government to impose a martial law environment. The decline of popular appeal, increased autonomy, economic development and rising tourism has helped considerably reduce violence across the region.

Punjab and northeastern India
Several new states were created in 2000 — Chhattisgarh (from Madhya Pradesh), Jharkhand (from Bihar) and Uttarakhand (from Uttar Pradesh). This resulted from a national debate concerning the purported need to partition large states burdened with socioeconomic challenges, including overpopulation and the political marginalisation of ethnic minorities. Such debate has not ceased: there are proposals for the creation of Vidarbha from Maharashtra, Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, Bundelkhand from parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir. In 2003, an agreement was signed between the Union government, the state of Assam and the main Bodo separatist groups. This created the Bodoland Territorial Councils, which granted autonomy to regions with significant Bodo populations. Other groups are pushing for the conferral of statehood upon Kutch, Cooch Behar, Gorkhaland, Kamtapur and Coorg.

See also