In a way after 1857 British had decided to work with policy ‘YOU rule your people WE will rule YOU’


Wisdom lies in inferring about & decorating rulers & people of pre-1947 times/British rule very-very carefully

Daya Sagar

So often the people are told through different notes that Bharatvarsh has a long drawn distinct and honourable history. At the same time some notes also appear saying that so and so King was instrumental in extending / preserving the boundaries of ‘modern’ India. Question here is when Bharatvarsh has her own history since times immemorial how could the credit for setting the limits of territories of Bharat could be accorded to some individual of times worth only a few centuries old?

When British ruled India , some areas of Bharatvarsh were ruled by different Kings / Princes on whom the British enjoyed Authority of Sovereignty and that was not all of Bharatvarsh since still some areas of Bharatvarsh were outside the British Indian Empire. One could say that even with British like others (Mughals/ France /Portugal) ruling some parts of Bharat the identity of Bharatvarsh that could be seen even beyond Tibet was still in place, simply the ‘lands’ were ruled by rulers from other countries /different generations.
The Indian freedom movement , of what we generally refer to was the movement of local people residing within the known boundaries of ‘influence’ of Bharatvarsh under British rule against the rulers from foreign lands like the East India Company from Britain, Portugal, France and not against the local Monarchs / Kings ( in a way it was not pointedly against monarchy and for Jantantra (common man rule) till late nineteen century . Not only that even the initial known battles / conflicts were initiated by the local princes / Kings/ Sanayasis and not the common people against the foreign rule (British/ East India company). To quote the 1857 Swatantrta Sangram ( some call it first war of independence) for which Maharani Lakshmi Bhai of Jhansi is in a way a “worshipped” warrior and respected by Bharatvasies had fought against the foreign rule and not against any local invader. There were a number of Indian Princes who did not participate in the 1857 Swatantrata Sangram against East India Company’. There were some Princes who even openly sided with the East India Company / British and even sent their army/ guns to fight for the British against the Indian princes/ revolting army units/Rani of Jansi. The British even called it a 1857 ‘Mutiny’, and there is very minute reference in historical reportings where we could find that the influential Princes outside British India had ever impressed upon the British not to call that a Mutiny. So, wisdom lies in inferring and decorating in independent India the rulers and people of times under British rule very- very carefully.

In case the princes of Indian Princely States were truthfully true for securing total democratic rights to their people why did not they unconditionally step down immediately on passing of the Indian Independence Act 1947 after 18 July 1947 or well before 14 August 1947, which would have saved Indian people of a number of controversies and loss of lakhs of lives ? It was for government of Dominion to see how the affairs are handled after independence, rulers responsibility would have ended.

Another inference that could be drawn from the policies drawn in writing ( like Government of India Act 1858of British Parliament) and ‘unwritten’ policy ‘held’ by the British government could be that the British in principle decided after 1857 not to disturb the local princes / rulers worth dislodging them from their personal stature socially and economically as long as agree to be under the “Crown” so that any common movement for independence against British does not easily become mass movement since the British could not manage government & defences without the locals on rolls. In a way it was to ensure the local rulers / princes that British will not dislodge their local authority.Had it not been so the British who could dismantle a ruler like Tipu Sultan could have surely tried to wipe off more than 450 out of 563 Indian princely states of 1947 times much before ( many of which were not more than a small Niabat).British had after 1957 held Princes with policy “You rule your people we will rule you”.
No any movement of locals, worth reference, prior to 1920 against the rule of local Princes of States of British India, for a pure democratic government could be quoted when the Indian independence movement was going on against the British.
No any reference is also on record where any of the rulers of the then princely states that mattered had joined openly independence movement volunteering to step down in favour of a people’s government. A number of princes of Indian princely states had not voluntarily stepped down surrendering all the rights & privileges of a ruler well before 1947.Even in 1950 Constitution of India it was due to the style in what the ex- rulers worked that the drafting committee had to incorporate a special class of States by the name Class-B including J&K and Hyderabad with other 7 states and for these states Art-238{ 238- i < (1) For the word “Governor” wherever it occurs in the said Part VI, except where it occurs for the second time in clause (6) of article 232,the word “Rajpramukh” shall be substituted > )} and Art -370 (Art 370-b-ii < Explanation.-For the purposes of this article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948 >) were included using the terms like Raj Pramukh and Maharaja as head of local State government. Some people do not take Maharaja Hari Singh Ji’s letter dated 26th Oct 1947 addressed to Governor General of Government of India in good taste. The princes appeared believing more in India Dominion becoming a Federal Identity than a democratic republic (events as shaped after May 1946to26 Nov 1949.
Another point that must attract the attention is that it is also a hard undisputed fact of times that whenever histories are written, the writers, in general, barring a very few, are influenced by the opinions and likings of the rulers particularly ( Monarchs ) of their times, no doubt the democratic governments too cannot be a total exception. And hence it could be said that what is written by historians may not be real truth and even may not remain a permanent observation on the times of day/ times of past. Those who were born in nineteen forties after Independence while in J&K school had chapter in a text book titled ” Naya Kashmir “and that is no more there now one may ask why?.
India that is Bharat, was always there, only people who ruled on small and big local territories/ boundaries within Bharatvarsh had been changing, may change. British was one of them who ruled on a large part of Bharat with the help of local Princes as part of British Indian Empire. British in 1947 divided the areas with in British India into two Dominions and intentionally left the princely states of British Indian Empire independent of any obligations to their people for democratic rights unlike local people who were earlier directly ruled by British ( in British India domain).
So, one may ask in case the princes of Indian Princely States were truthfully true for securing total democratic rights to their people why did not they unconditionally step down on passing of the Indian Independence Act 1947 or well before 14 August 1947, which would have saved Indian people of a number of controversies and loss of lakhs of lives?
(on February 20, 1947, Prime Minister of UK Clement Attlee announcement that British India would be granted self-government rights by June 1948 where in Lord Mountbatten Plan of 3 June 1947formed the base for shaping the Indian Independence Act 1947 of British Parliament that received the royal assent on July 18, 1947).
(Daya Sagar : Sr Journalist and a analyst J&K Affairs [email protected])


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