Chapter 12
The Federation of India

WE HAVE already seen that, when the transfer of power took place, the treaties between the States and the Crown were annulled. At the same time paramountcy came to an end, for, in spite of pressure from Indian politicians, the British Government rightly took the view that 'it could not and will not in any circumstances transfer paramountcy to an Indian Government'. All political relationships with either British India or the Crown thus terminated in 1947 and a void remained. The 562 States were left in isolation from the new Union of India and, in theory, could have remained 562 separate kingdoms. If they had formed a solid geographical block, a third dominion existing side by side with India and Pakistan might have been a possibility, but, in fact, the Indian States occupying 45 per cent of the area of undivided India and containing a population of ninety-three million people, were scattered all over the map. A few of them could perhaps have made out a case for remaining independent, but it was unthinkable that the States as a whole should stand aloof from the Union of India. As Coupland has put it, 'An India deprived of the States would have lost all coherence. For they form a great cruciform barrier separating all four quarters of the country. If no more than the Central Indian States and Hyderabad and Mysore were excluded from the Union, the United Provinces would be almost completely cut off from Bombay, and Bombay completely from Sind. The strategic and economic implications were obvious enough. The practicability of Pakistan must be admitted, but the more the separation of the States from British India is considered, the more impracticable it seems: India would live if its Muslim links in the north-west and north-east were amputated, but could it live without its heart?'

One of the first tasks of the Union Government was thus to find 'a common centre for the whole country, including the

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