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Junagadh 1947

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The edifice of the Raj in India rested on two pillars: the provinces directly ruled by the British and the indirectly ruled princely states. The political relationship between the British and the states can be traced back to the mid-eighteenth century when the East India Company began establishing diplomatic relations with Indian kingdoms. By the 1850s most of the major kingdoms were linked to the Company by treaty but were not subsumed within the colonial bloc. More important, by this time the central elements of what came to be known as “paramountcy” were in place. A vague and ill-defined term, paramountcy included among other things a system of British “Residents” in princely states, control over the states’ foreign affairs, and the regulation of succession within such states. In 1947 there were around 600 states of varying importance, ranging from Kashmir and Hyderabad, which rivalled France in area and population, to principalities of just a few villages. Between them the states accounted for two-fifths of the area and a third of the population of the empire in India. The fate of the princely states thus held momentous consequences for the subcontinent once the British decided to quit.1


  • Prime Minister
  • Security Council
  • Military Action
  • Indian Government
  • Governor General

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  1. The best overall study is Ian Copland, The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

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  2. For an earlier assessment, see R. Jeffrey, ed., People, Princes and Paramount Power: Society and Politics in the Indian Princely States (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1978).

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  3. V.P. Menon, The Story of the Integration of Indian States (London: Longmans Green, 1956) remains the most detailed account of the period immediately preceding and following the transfer of power.

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  4. Also useful is H.V. Hodson, The Great Divide: Britain-India-Pakistan (London: Hutchin-son, 1969).

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  5. Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), passim.

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  6. Alan Campbell-Johnson, Mission with Mountbatten (London: Robert Hale, 1951), 192.

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  7. Philip Zeigler, Mountbatten: The Official Biography (Glasgow: William Collins, 1985), 445.

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  8. Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 44.

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  9. K.M. Munshi, Somanatha: The Shrine Eternal (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1965), 65.

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© 2010 Srinath Raghavan

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Raghavan, S. (2010). Junagadh 1947. In: War and Peace in Modern India. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-58988-3

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