The Making of the Indian Princes

The Making of the Indian Princes

The Making of the Indian Princes

The Making of the Indian Princes

Excerpt

Now that India's right to independence has been acknowledged, the Princes' rights and status remain her outstanding constitutional problem. It cannot be decided by mere legal examination of their treaties with the Paramount Power. There exists, in addition, a body of practice and tradition. Also, there arises the question of the status and position of the parties to those treaties when they were made. This question only a knowledge of the events which shaped India's political framework can answer.

India's political framework was made in twenty years: in 1799- 1819, between the death of Tipu Sultan and the elimination of the Peshwa. The period opens with the destruction of the Muslim kingdom of Mysore and ends with the disintegration of the Maratha Confederacy into a series of separate chieftaincies. These two conquests gave the British the control of India.

After Tipu's destruction the Marathas remained. When they were finally beaten down, Modern India was formed and its map in essentials drawn. The arrangement was to stay until the slow process of time and the coming of new systems of political thinking made it an anachronism, calling for Round Table Conferences, White Papers, and their sequel in constitutional legislation and political offers. India, as we knew it yesterday and the world has known it, was made in the space of these twenty years, first by the shattering of what Lord Wellesley styled 'the Mahratta Empire' and then, after a brief period of uncertain and faltering doctrine, by Lord Hastings' firm establishment of the States which had survived, each in the niche and status which was to be legally accepted as its own until our day. The Indian 'Prince' emerged in 1806, arising, like the Puranic Urvasi, from the churning of the Ocean by the Gods and Demons, and received his position in India's polity in 1819.

In these twenty years were three major wars, the last major wars to be fought in India, except for the two Sikh wars, and one minor campaign. A detailed study of the first of these, that between the British and Tipu Sultan, lies outside my present purpose. The Muslim dynasty of Mysore was an excrescence, whose roots lay in . . .

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