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Strategies for Accession

In June 1947, a ‘States Department’ was formed, replacing the earlier Political Department, with Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in charge of the Department and VP Menon as its Secretary. The Department had the principal responsibility of integrating all the Princely states into India. Integrating all these diverse states into a meaningful mosaic seemed impossible given the different and often clashing colours and patterns of the mosaic.

Out of 565 Princely States, three hundred and twenty-seven principalities had an area barely of 20 square miles, a population of about 3 thousand and an annual income approximating 22 thousand rupees.

A tailor-made draft treaty named ‘Instrument of Accession’ was sent to all the Princely States. While most of the States immediately signed the Agreement, there were some defiant or challenging States, who refused to sign; they included Baroda, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Jammu & Kashmir, Jodhpur, Junagarh, Manipur, and Travancore-Cochin. With the anticipation of India’s independence, a new set of permutations and combinations had to be worked through at all levels of nation building, including the status of the erstwhile Princely States.

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