FOREWORD-White Paper on Indian States (1948)


White Paper on Indian States (1950)
Ministry of States, Government of India

GO TO INDEX : White Paper on Indian States-1948-Ministry of States GOI


The White Paper on Indian States issued on July 5, 1948, contained a survey of the developments in respect of States during the first year of the existence of the Ministry of States. During the period of a year and a half which has followed the issue of that White Paper, the policy of integration pursued by the Government of India has made further progress. The States integrated during this period include Mayurbhanj, Kolhapur, Baroda, Rampur, Tehri-Garhwal, Benaras and Cooch-Behar, which have been merged in Provinces; Bhopal, Tripura and Manipur which have been taken over as centrally administered units; Travancore and Cochin, whose Union emerges as a new unit on the Indian map; and the remaining Rajputana States of Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer which have been integrated in the reconstituted United State of Rajasthan. An outstanding development during this period has been the establishment of constitutional relationship between the Centre and the State of Hyderabad.

2. The process of welding over 500 diverse States into viable and sizeable units and converting them into democracies has now been carried to its final objective. This process started with the elimination of the chain of small States that severed the Provinces of Orissa and Bihar from the Central Provinces; next it solved the cross-jurisdictional puzzle of the vast assemblage of the States of Kathiawar; and, as it gathered momentum, its wide sweep covered even a number of major States. As against five hundred and odd units known as States, the new Constitution of India specifies in Part B of the First Schedule only 8[1] such units.

3. The operations for revivifying the palsied limbs of India’s body-politic were rendered swift and smooth by the welcome realisation on the part of the Princes that in a free India it would be unpatriotic for them to cling to a legalistic stand on time-worn treaties or their anachronistic prerogatives and powers. Moving voluntarily with the times, the Princes, big and small, co-operated in exploding the myth that India’s independence would founder on the rock of Princely intransigence. The edifice of democratic India rises on the true foundation of the co-ordinated effort of the Princes and the people.

4. The task of reconstruction of States is not over with the signing of the Covenants and Agreements of Merger. It was inevitable that the profound change that has come over the States should bring in its wake a crop of difficult administrative problems. Local affiliations and political habits die hard; not all the newly-established units, therefore, could be expected to settle easily in the new mould. A radical change-over from an autocratic set-up, which had been maintained for a century and a half, to a democratic order and the task of piecing together into a co-ordinated pattern the diverse administrative systems of integrated States could by no means be easy. In many States, even the rudiments of administrative machinery did not exist. In a number of others political and administrative institutions were to be found only in an embryonic stage. The problem, therefore, is not merely one of replacing the super-structure of the administrative systems in States; nor even of reconstructing in them the organs of State. A modern system of Government has to be built in the States and in many of them a start had to he made from the very beginning. The task requires all the patience of the brick-layer; it also requires the vision of the planner and the skill of the engineer.

5. The process of integration having been completed, the States now enter the phase of consolidation. As compared to integration the building up of a well-knit administration in the States and the inculcation of democratic responsibility in their people are a much harder, though less spectacular piece of work. This work has already been taken in hand. The fact, however, remains that a very considerable leeway has still to be made up in the field of bringing the administration of States to the Provincial level and ushering in a new social and economic order. To this task the Government of India are now bending their energy.

6. What has already been achieved is nothing short of a revolution. Except for a jar in the case of Hyderabad, this revolution has taken place so smoothly and peacefully, and we are so near in time to the events themselves, that a clear appreciation of the magnitude of this achievement may be hampered. Very few even amongst those having faith in the political integrity of the Indian people to say nothing of the prophets of evil and those who worked for India’s disruption, viewing the perplexing and gigantic problem oi Princely India in the anxious bewildering circumstances following the partition of India, could have conceived as possible, the revolutionary change that has come over India within a short span of about two and a half years.

7. The White Paper, which has now been brought up to date, carries the survey of developments in relation to States right up to the attainment by them of their legitimate position as full-fledged constituent units of the Indian Union under the new Constitution of India. It has also been expanded to explain fully the historical setting of the problem of the States.

8. The matter contained in the Paper has been re-arranged and divided into twelve Parts. Parts I, II and III deal with the background of the problem; Part IV details the events leading up to the accession of States to the Dominion of India; Part V contains a survey of the process of integration of States; Part VI describes the process of democratisation of States; Part VII outlines the main features of the overall settlements made with the Rulers as embodied in the Covenants and Agreements of Merger; Part VIII shows the progress made in the direction of the consolidation of the gains from the administrative integration of States in the field both of the establishment of a modern system of Government in the integrated States and of the approximation of their constitutional relationship with the Centre to that of the Provinces; Part IX explains the scheme of the Federal Financial Integration of States; Part X describes the nature of the Centre’s responsibility during the transitional phase in respect of the States and the manner in which it is proposed to discharge this responsibility; Part XI describes the position of the States under the new Constitution; and finally Part XII surveys in retrospect the operation of the Government of India’s policy of integration and democratisation of States.

March, 1950.

Of the nine States specified in Part B, Vindhya Pradesh has been removed from this category under the Constitution (Amendment of the First and Fourth Schedules) Order, 1950, issued by the Governor General on 25th January, 1950.

White Paper on Indian States (1950)
Ministry of States, Government of India

GO TO INDEX : White Paper on Indian States-1948-Ministry of States GOI

Foreword to the First Edition

In the opening paragraph of its report the Butler Committee observed:

“Politically there are………two Indias, British India, governed by the Crown according to the statutes of Parliament and enactments of the Indian Legislature, and the Indian States under the suzerainty of the Crown and still for the most part under the personal rule of the Princes. Geographically India is one and indivisible, made up of pink and yellow. The problem of statesmanship is to hold the two together.”
2. That is how 19 years ago the problem of the Indian States presented itself to the authors of this important report on the Indian States. But were there really two Indias? And was the problem merely to hold them together?

3. A glance at the map showed that geographically India was one and indivisible. The territories of the Indian States were dovetailed into, and closely interwoven with, those of what was then British India. Even where the map showed solid blocks of the Indian States the territories were so irregular that the States had enclaves in the Provinces and vice versa.

4. The main part of the communications essential to the welfare of the whole of the country passed in and out of the territories of the Indian States. A community of interests in the wider economic field linked the States with the Provinces. If the States and the Provinces failed to co-operate in implementing policies on matters of common concern, there was a vacuum which rendered it impossible to enforce effective measures in respect of such matters in any part of the country.

5. The geographical set-up of the Indian States did not coincide with any ethnic, racial or linguistic divisions. The peoples of the Provinces and the States had suffered alike from the waves of foreign invasions and foreign domination. Close ties of cultural affinity, no less than those of blood and sentiment, bound the people of the States and the Provinces together.

6. What was it then that separated the Indian States from the rest of India? Firstly, the historical factor that unlike the Provinces the States had not been annexed by the British Government. Secondly, the political factor that the States maintained the traditional monarchical form of Government.

7. Did these factors, however, really segregate the States from the Provinces and create an impassable political barrier between them? The freedom of the Indian States from foreign subjugation was only relative; the Paramount Power controlled the external affairs of the States and exercised wide powers in relation to their internal matters. The whole of the country was, therefore, in varying degrees under the sway of the British Government. Besides, in the context of the demand for India’s freedom the degree of control exercised by the British ceased to have any meaning. Nor was there any reason to over-emphasize the political difference between the States and the Provinces. There was nothing incompatible between the systems of governance in the Provinces and the States provided the supremacy of the common popular interests was recognised and representative and responsible Governments were established in the States.

8. India was, then, not only a geographical and cultural continuum but also one economic and political entity. The problem of statesmanship in that case could not merely be to hold the two Indias together. The real problem was how to bring about a clearer appreciation on the part of all political elements in India that they were heirs to the heritage of the common culture of India, and how to weld the States and the Provinces together to raise India to her full stature.

9. On 3rd June, 1947, the plan for the partition of India was announced, and accepted by the principal political parties in India. The period of one year following that fateful day will go down as a most momentous one in India’s history not only because it was during this year that India attained her freedom, but also because it has witnessed a mighty interplay of two powerful forces. One has been the disruptive force of communal exclusiveness which has led to the secession from India of certain territories and their constitution into an independent State. The other has been the revitalising and uniting force of enlightened mutual interests in a free and resurgent India which has swept away the barriers that separated the Indian States and the Provinces. How far in balance one process has set off the other is for the future to unfold.

10. During the recent months, a tremendous change has come over the Indian States. This change has been brought about by a process of two-fold integration, firstly, consolidation into sizable and viable administrative units, and, secondly, growth of democratic institutions and responsible governments. This bloodless revolution has been brought about, on the one hand, by the operation of democratic forces unleashed by freedom, and, on the other, by the patriotic attitude of the Rulers who have been quick to appreciate the change.

11. It has been the policy of the Government of India to appropriate the sentiments and the wishes of the people and the sense of public service and patriotism of the Rulers, towards the attainment of the objective that they have had before themselves, namely, the integration of the Provinces and the States in a strong and united India in which the peoples of the States and the Provinces would partake in the fullest measure in the enjoyment of the fruits of freedom.

12. The purpose of this White Paper is to present information, supported by documents, regarding the policy of the Government of India towards the Indian States and the developments that have taken place in respect of the States since 5th July 1947, when the States Department of the Government of India was set up. An analysis of the historical and political background of the problem of the States will be helpful in taking stock of the great change that has come over them during the recent months. This is contained in the first two of the four parts into which this White Paper is divided. The first part gives statistics about the States and outlines their position under the paramountcy of the British Crown. The second part surveys the course of developments since the promulgation of the Government of India Act, 1935, till the Statement issued by His Majesty’s Government on 3rd June, 1947. The third part deals with the events leading up to the accession of the States to the Dominion of India. The fourth part deals with subsequent developments in the direction of the integration and democratisation of the States.

13. This White Paper surveys the political trends and developments in respect of the Indian States generally; it does not deal with the States of Hyderabad, Kashmir and Junagadh, where the course of events has been affected by special factors.

July 5, 1948.

GO TO INDEX : White Paper on Indian States-1948-Ministry of States GOI


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