Integration of the Indian States by V.P. Menon

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Item Code: NAG011
Author: V.P. Menon
Publisher: Orient Blackswan Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788125054511
Pages: 534
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 580 gm
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About the Book


V. P. Menon was Constitutional Adviser to Lord Mountbatten, the first Governor General of independent India. After Independence, he worked closely with Sardar Patel to help integrate the princely states with India. At Patel's behest, Menon penned down his experiences from the frontlines in The Story of the Integration of the Indian States, first published in 1956. The book captured the political maturity and imagination of his efforts in marshalling support from different quarters for the integration of states. It also detailed the negotiations he carried out with each of these states.


This reissue of the volume has a new Introduction by Asha Sarangi that contextualises it for contemporary readers. It gives us a brief account of the author, the book and the background in which it was written. It tells us how the process of carving out states from the jigsaw puzzle that India was after Independence is something that in many ways continues unresolved as the current agitation for Telangana demonstrates.


This volume is a must-read for students and scholars of political science and history. It will be equally valuable for the general reader who seeks insights into the period that saw the formation of modem India.


About the Author


V. P. Menon was Secretary, States Ministry after Independence. He played a crucial role in integrating the princely states with the Indian union.

Asha Sarangi is Associate Professor at Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.




This book is in part fulfilment of a promise made to the late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was his earnest desire that I should write two books, one narrating the events leading to the transfer of power and the other dealing with the integration of the Indian States.


I have taken up the integration of the States first, because the events of the four hectic years, 1947 to 1951, are so vivid in my memory. Today we think of the integration of the States only in terms of the consolidation of the country, but few pause to consider the toils and anxieties that had to be undergone till, step by step, the edifice of a consolidated India was enshrined in the Constitution. It was a co-operative effort in which everyone from Sardar-our inspiration and light-down to the rank and file played his part. The entire staff of the States Ministry, both at New Delhi as well as at the regional headquarters, threw themselves heart and soul into the task. There was a unity of purpose animating every one. They are the unsung heroes who made possible the consolidation of the country.


I have narrated the whole story as objectively as it is possible for one who was in the midst of it. The events and personalities are too near for any final assessment to be attempted. This is a task for the historian of the future. I have deliberately called this book, not the history, but The Story of the Integration of the Indian States'.


The first four chapters provide the background to the problem of the Indian States. There I have described how the British built up the framework of princely India. I trace the events right up to the announcement of the June 3rd plan declaring the lapse of paramountcy, whereby the Indian States comprising two-fifths of the country would return to a state of political isolation. Chapter 5 describes how this was circumvented by the accession of the States on three subjects. The next chapter deals with Junagadh State which had acceded to Pakistan. The ten subsequent chapters deal with the consolidation of the States on a regional basis. Hyderabad, which had remained aloof, has been dealt with at length in three chapters. Kashmir follows and the Baroda interlude comes next. Then four chapters are devoted to a survey of the administrative, financial and constitutional changes and to the cost of integration. In the last chapter, entitled 'Retrospect and Prospect', I have summed up the policy of integration and expressed my personal views on some aspects of the problem.


I am deeply grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation, Humanities Division, for the generous grant given through the Indian Council of World Affairs for the preparation not only of this book but also of the companion volume on the transfer of power. I must, however, add that no responsibility attaches to the Foundation in regard to either their contents or the views expressed.


I am thankful to the Indian Council of World Affairs under whose auspices this book has been prepared and in particular to Dr A. Appadorai, its Secretary-General. My grateful thanks are also due to several friends, Indian and English, who went through the manuscript and made many valuable suggestions. I am thankful to the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India for having allowed me to reproduce the pictures included in this book. Lastly, my sincere thanks are due to E. C. Gaynor and R. P. Aiyar for the help they have given me in writing this book. Their assistance has been most invaluable. My thanks are also due to the two stenographers, S. Gopalakrishnan and K. Thankappan Nair and to the typist, M. Balakrishnan who never spared themselves and who faithfully discharged whatever duties were entrusted to them.




Vapal Pangunni Menon, popularly known as V. P. Menon, (1894- 1966) from Malabar, Kerala, became, towards the end of his career, a Constitutional Advisor to the Governor General of India before Independence. Earlier, he held several important positions in the Reforms Office of the British colonial state and worked as Reforms Commissioner from 1942-47. He was appointed as a secretary in the Ministry of State during the years 1947-51. There are very few accounts about the modest origins of Menon, and his early school education under severe financial constraints. He fought and survived against numerous odds in his life. He worked hard in different jobs till he got a job as a clerk in the Home Department of the colonial state. Also, not much is known about his early life in the Home Department except that he was a close confidante of Sardar Patel. M. V. Kamath has given us a portrait about the humble origins of this man who rose to become one of the most able and trustworthy administrators during the difficult decades of 19 30s and 1940s.


Menon became the constitutional advisor to the last three viceroys, namely Linlithgow, Wavell and Mountbatten, of British India. He was the administrative architect of the modem Indian state, who brought numerous princely states together into the Indian Union through an arduous and unique experiment of accession. His expertise on the constitutional subjects of the state, mainly over the substantive issues of sovereignty, governance and the modes over distribution of power between the union and its constitutive units, was much sought after by various colonial officials. This sort of expertise proved beneficial for him when he was made in-charge of the implementation of the Government of India Act of 1935. Menon worked carefully on his plan for the dominion status of India and Pakistan, and proposed, among other things, partition of the country as an alternative to the Mountbatten plan.? In this regard, he had to seek the concomitant approval of three leaders-Nehru, Patel and Mountbatten. With the transfer of power and Independence achieved, Menon's role as a Constitutional Advisor to the British government of India came to an end. Thereafter, despite his initial reluctance and hesitation, he accepted the post of a secretary in the States Ministry offered by Sardar Patel, who himself was a Minister of State in the same ministry. For a brief period of three months, he was also appointed governor of Orissa in 1951, and a member of the Finance Commission in 1952 in independent India.


Patel wanted Menon to pen down his vast experience of witnessing the decades of 19 30s through the 1950s in writing and suggested that he write two books-one giving a detailed account of the transfer of power, and the other about the integration of states. Menon decided to write the second one first and dedicated it to Sardar Patel. The Humanities division of the Rockefeller Foundation gave a generous grant for the research and writing of these two books. Both of these books were published by Orient Longman in India and MacMillan Company in New York in the USA. The first of these two, The Story of the Integration of Indian States was published in 1956 followed by The 1TansferofPowerin India in 1957. The two books have remained of great historical significance to generations of scholars working on the Indian state and its genesis during the last decade of the colonial rule.


Along with his administrative colleagues and supporters, Menon was able to accomplish the difficult task of the integration of states in about five years without much violence and political agitation. Patel as the Minister of State and Menon as the State Secretary were a well-matched team who jointly proceeded on this journey of integrating 554 Indian States into 14 administrative units. With the end of the British Empire and the lapse of paramountcy, a certain degree of political vacuum leading to an arbitrariness of princely states' power was considered to be imminent. The lapse of paramountcy could not have easily or immediately lapsed into the sovereign power of the Indian state taking possession over the two-fifths of princely India without proper rights granted to these princes who were now citizen subjects of the Republic of India. The term paramountcy and its ambivalent use/s had immediate effects on the daily administrative functioning of the princely states. Having multiple interpretative meanings suitable to the interventionist powers of the colonial state, it also meant that 'the states were left autonomous while guaranteeing the rulers protection against enemies foreign and domestic? The paramountcy of the paramount power (i.e., colonial state) defined the exercise of this power primarily in the fields of foreign affairs, defense and communication.


A few years after Independence and particularly after the death of Sardar Patel. Menon too became invisible from the seats of power in the government of free India. He joined the Swatantra Party founded in mid-1959. Considered as a more conservative non-Congress alternative political party, it emphasised a policy of fierce state intervention with ideas of trusteeship, statism, and active role of the feudal local notables in the political affairs of the country. It aimed at creating an administrative bureaucratic state that was not necessarily founded on the principles of liberal democratic secular traditions. Seen more as a reactionary force in the Indian politics soon after Independence, it emphasised the virtues of individual energy, enterprise and initiative more than mitigating the social structural hierarchies of caste, gender and class."


Menon presents a detailed account of the historical trajectory of events leading to Independence and the creation of two sovereign states of India and Pakistan in the 1940s in his two volumes and gives us an in-depth account of a decade long political history of the sub-continent towards the end of the colonial rule. However, he is astutely measured and factually salient in his accounts in these two books whereas his An Outline of the Indian Constitutional History has an analytical subtlety combined with a descriptive narrative about the constitutional development of the country.




After the proclamation of 1858, the colonial state began to annex states and provinces as subsidiaries of the British Empire. As Dick Kooiman says, 'the Indian princes were seen as feudal subsidiaries of the British Crown especially after the Royal Titles Act of 1876'.5 The question of heir or successor of the kingdom was a crucial one at this time for the imperial state. It was not simply an idea of conquest but as much an idea of hegemonic administrative control under the mask of governability and accountability that the colonial state emphasised and carried forward in its everyday formal-legal bureaucratic-governmentalised spheres of life. The division of colonial India into the British and Princely India was structured along various hierarchies and divisions overlapping social, cultural, economic, political and ideological differences between these two parts of the population. Princely states formed about two-fifths of the territory and a quarter of the population of colonial India. In order to better manage and control the princely states, the colonial state deputed residents, political agents and crown representatives in them. The imperial design of a geographically unified India with a centralised authority presiding over various states, provinces, regions, and other centrally as well as locally administered areas was intended to organise the body-politics of the colonial state. The Montague Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 were the first in this regard to initiate the process of sharing the powers between the empire and its constituents. The next twenty-five years saw genesis and emergence of constitutional history of India providing significant measures addressing issues of political representation, autonomy and division of power between the centre and states. The Government of India 1935 Act, Cripps Proposal of 1942 and Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, among others, were significant exercises in this regard. For example, under the 1935 Act, states were to accede to Indian federation only whereas the Cripps Proposal gave rights to the provinces to accede or not to the Indian union or even to form a separate Union or Unions. The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 specified that the paramountcy of these states could neither be retained by the British state nor transferred to the new government after Independence. The British state wanted princes to have the options to negotiate over the transfer of their paramountcy after the end of colonial rule. The Muslim League proposed that the princely states should have sovereign powers, and decide the question of paramountcy on their own without a third party intervention. The Congress, on the other hand, wanted the paramountcy to be transferred at or before Independence. At this stage, Menon suggested to Mountbatten that the lapse of paramountcy without the accession of the princely states to the Indian government would lead to political chaos and disintegration affecting not just the economic affairs of the country but also various agreements related to railways, customs, post telegraphs and irrigations, etc., that were signed between the colonial state and the princes. Mountbatten himself was a bit uncertain on these issues and suggested that each state should be free to decide on its own whether to accede or not to either of the government of India and Pakistan.




List of Photographs, Cartoons and Maps







Setting the Stage



Spokes in the Wheel



The Parting Gift



Prelude to Chaos



Stopping the Gap






The Orissa and Chattisgarh States






The Deccan and Gujarat States



Vindhya Pradesh



Madhya Bharat



Patiala and East Punjab States Union












A Miscellany of States



Hyderabad I



Hyderabad II



Hyderabad III



Jammu And Kashmir State






I Administrative Consolidation



II Incorporation of the States Forces into the Indian Army



Financial Integration



Organic Unification



The Cost of Integration



Retrospect and Prospect



Appendix I



Appendix II



Appendix III



Appendix IV



Photographs, Cartoons and Maps









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