Courtesy Reuters

The Princes and India's Future

IN discussions of the Indian problem, which looms so large because of India's position in the strategy of the United Nations, it should not be forgotten that India is divided politically into two parts, one ruled by the Government of India and one ruled by Princes who are in treaty relationship with the British Crown. The problem, therefore, is not concerned solely with the adjustment of political power between Britain and British India, as outsiders often suppose. There is a third important factor.

The territory ruled by hereditary Princes amounts to practically two-fifths of the whole of India and the population involved is nearly 80 millions. It includes States which by reason of their size and resources and the progressive character of their administration challenge comparison with many of the nations of Europe and the Americas. There are, altogether, 562 Indian States, but this figure by itself is misleading, for many of them are very small. The principal states, whose rulers are members of the Chamber of Princes in their own right, are 135 in number, total 572,997 square miles in area and had a population of 75,109,344 in 1931.

These States, contrary to widely prevalent notions, are not the creations of British policy nor are they the haphazard outcome of political exigencies. Most of them were in existence long before the Europeans came to India. The State of Cochin, for example, is ruled today by the descendants of the Maharaja who welcomed Vasco da Gama on his first voyage to India. The first political treaty made by the East India Company in 1737 was with the ruler of Travancore, whose States date back to the early centuries of the Christian Era. The Nizam of Hyderabad was an ally of the Company in its struggle with Tipu and the Marathas. The ancient States of Rajputana were never conquered by the British, while the Maratha States of Baroda, Gwalior, Kolhapur and Indore represent a power which contested with the British for supremacy in India.

Though the States vary greatly

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