Hyderabad was the largest native state in India. It was ruled by the Nizams, who accepted the paramountcy of the British sovereign.
Hyderabad too was surrounded by Indian territories on all sides. The Nizam of Hyderabad too like the Nawab of Junagadh and the ruler of Kashmir did not accede to India before the date of 15 August.
Encouraged by Pakistan and Muslim natives, he desired to be an independent power by improving his armed forces.
Patel made it clear to Nizam of Hyderabad that India would not tolerate “an isolated spot which would destroy the very union which we have built up with our blood and toil”.
In November 1947, the Indian government signed a standstill agreement with the Nizam with a firm hope that he would introduce representative government in the Nizam’s Hyderabad which would make the merger with India easy.
Contrary to Government of India’s views, the Nizam entertained different points of view. The Nizam engaged an experienced British lawyer Sir Walter Monckton, who was a friend of Mountbatten to negotiate with the Government of India on his behalf. The Nizam desired to prolong deliberations for a good length of time and wanted to utilize the time gap to build up his armed forces to deal with India with a strong strength or to accede to Pakistan in view of the tension building up over the issue of Kashmir.
In this backdrop, three important developments took place in the state of Hyderabad:
(a) Rapid growth of Muslim communal organization, Ittihad ul Muslim and its para-military wing, the Razakars,
(b) The mass struggle launched by Hyderabad State Congress on 7 August, 1947. There developed direct clashes between the Razakars and the State Congress Satyagrahis in which many were wounded and sacrificed their lives and many more fled from Hyderabad to neighbouring Indian territories for temporary stay, and
(c) The peaceful State Congress opposition to Nizam took violent turn and they started armed resistance against the Nizam. Along with this movement, by then a powerful communist-led peasant movement in the shape of armed struggle had developed in the Telangana region of the state from the latter half of 1946.
The communist Dalams or squads too attacked the Razakars by resorting to armed defence in their villages. Till June 1948, there was no light at the end of the tunnel for the Hyderabad problem. Impatient and exasperated Patel wrote from his sickbed to Nehru, “I feel very strongly that a stage has come when we should tell them quite frankly that nothing short of unqualified acceptance of accession and of introduction of undiluted responsible government would be acceptable to us”.
In spite of provocative and hostile attitude of defiance from the side of the Nizam and the Razakars, the Government of India patiently waited for some more time. As the Razakars activated dangerous proportions, finally the Government of India took a hard decision of moving armies to Telangana on 13 September, 1948.
On 16 September, the Nizam of Hyderabad surrendered and acceded to the Indian Union in November 1948. 17 September is celebrated as Hyderabad’s liberation day, every year. The Government of India showed generosity towards the Nizam and did not punish him. The Nizam was retained as the head of the state or Rajpramukh.
He was not only given a privy purse of 5 million rupees and was also permitted to retain his entire assets. Thus, with the accession of Hyderabad in November, 1948, the merger of princely states with the Indian union was accomplished and the Government of India became a sovereign power over the whole of geographical area of India. The success of Hyderabad episode clearly proves the victory of Indian secularism as most of the Muslims preferred to join hands with the Government of India. Thus by the year 1948, the first stage in the full integration of the princely states into Indian union was completed.
The second and the very difficult stage of the full integration of the princely states into the new Indian nation began in December 1947. In this phase too, Sardar Patel moved with speed and completed the process by merging small princely states with the neighboring states or merged together to “form centrally administered areas. A large number were grouped together into five new unions – Madhya Bharat, Rajputana, Patiala and East Punjab Union (PEPSU). Saurashtra and Travancore-Cochin, Mysore, Hyderabad and Jammu & Kashmir retained their original form as separate states of the union.
The Government of India provided privy purses in perpetuity, free of all taxes to the rulers of the major states. The amount covered by the Privy Purse came to Rs 4.66 crores in 1949. Later on it was given constitutional validity. The Government of India satisfied their egos by allowing and retaining privileges like keeping their titles, flying their personal flags and gun salutes on ceremonial occasions. Though there was certain amount of harsh criticism against the privileges granted to the rulers of the native states, they received that type of treatment to suit their earlier status and statures in Indian society.
Two more trouble spots that deserved the attention of the Government of India in attaining total integration were the French and the Portuguese owned settlements on India’s East and West Coasts with Pondicherry and Goa forming their centres of activities.
The people living in these settlements too desired to join the Indian union like their brothers and sisters of the other regions. By 1954, the French agreed for peaceful transition of their territories into India. But Portugal backed by England and America defiantly decided to continue its sway over Indian territories and as Indian government did not want to be an aggressor, it patiently waited while the people started movement for liberation of their territories by the Portuguese.
In 1961, sensing the mood of the Indians, Nehru reluctantly ordered troops to march into Goa. The Governor General of Goa surrendered without fight and by 1961 the territorial and the geographical integration of India was totally completed. By consistent and careful tactics, the Government of India completed smoothly and successfully the total political and geographical completion of the making of the Indian nation by the accession of native states and the Portuguese and the French settlements.
Along with the major native states, many minor states were merged into bigger states. The post-independent Government of India initiated a three-pronged strategy of integration, democratization and modernization as to make the people of these states citizens of a free and independent developing India.
As announced in the white paper on the states, “The aim was the integration of all elements in the country of free, united and democratic India”. In this process, the first to be merged were the native states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh. There were 39 such states. Their population was estimated to be 70 lakh. Their territorial area was nearly 56,000 square miles. Sardar Patel initiated a dialogue for their merger on 14-15 December, 1947. The princes agreed to surrender their authority by 1 January, 1948 and by that day all those tiny native states became part of Orissa and central provinces.
The next to be merged were the Deccan states numbering 17. All these were merged with Bombay in March 1948. Later on Kolhapur was merged with Bombay. In June 1948, Gujarats’ 297 states were merged with Bombay presidency. In May 1949, Baroda was also merged. Further, some small states of Punjab, the state of Banaganapalli of Andhra Pradesh, Pudukottai and Sandur in Madras, Cooch Behar in West Bengal, the Khasi Hills states in Assam and Tehri Garhwal, Banaras and Rampur in UP were merged in the surrounding provinces by 1948 and 1949.
The other form of integration of states was the creation of centrally administered areas of Union of Himachal Pradesh on 15 April, 1948 by merging the areas of Himachal Pradesh, Vindhya Pradesh, Kutch, Bilaspur, Bhopal, Tripura and Manipur and 21 states of East Punjab. By January 1950, newly created Vindhya Pradesh was taken over by the Government of India. Bilaspur in 1948, Bhopal in June 1949 and Tripura on 15 October, 1949 were taken over by Government of India.
By forming states unions, like the united states of Kathiawar, united states of Matsya, the Patiala and East Punjab states union and the united states of Rajasthan, an attempt was made to merge the states into the Indian union. Of this, the united states of Kathiawar had 222 states, estates and talukas. The united states of Matsya consisted of Alwar and Bharatpur. The PEPSU consisted of 7 big states of Patiala, Nabha, Kapurtala among others. One of the greatest obstacles for national integration was linguistic chauvinism and in equal development of the states.
The Government of India tackled these problems with foresight and wisdom. Demand for linguistic based division and creation of linguistic states was there for more than forty years in India. Bipan Chandra et al. observe: “The language problem was the most divisive issue in the first twenty years of independent India, and it created the apprehension among many that the political and cultural unity of the country was in danger”.
In order to appease this demand, the linguistic Province Committee or Dar Committee was set up in 1948. The Committee did not favour the idea of creation of linguistic states. But in order to meet the active demand for the creation of linguistic states, the Congress appointed a committee with Nehru, Patel and Pattabhi, popularly called JVP Committee in December 1948, to examine the question afresh. This committee also advised against the creation of linguistic states for the time being, emphasizing the unity, national security and economic development as the needs of the hour.
Despite its recommendations, the popular movements for that reorganization of the states all over the country, which persisted with varying degree of intensity till 1960? In this movement, the most important development of significance was the fast unto death over the demand for a separate Andhra state by a popular freedom fighter Potti Sriramulu and his end on the 58th day. This sacrifice of Sriramulu triggered spontaneous opposition and violent events all over Andhra for three days. Nehru and the Indian government conceded the demand by creating the state of Andhra in October 1953 and Tamil Nadu also.
The success of the movement encouraged other states also to demand for the creation of linguistic states. Nehru reluctantly agreed as pointed out by S. Gopal. He felt that it would be undemocratic to smother this sentiment which in general grounds, he did not find objectionable. Indeed, a linguistic mosaic might well provide a firmer base for national unity.
What concerned him were the timing, the agitation and violence with which linguistic provinces were demanded and the harsh antagonism between various sections of the Indian people which underly these demands. He appointed in August 1953, the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) with Justice Fazl Ali, K.M. Panikkar and Hridayanath Kunjra as members to examine objectively and dispassionately this question of linguistic division demand. After two years of hard work and visiting different areas, the SRC submitted its report in 1955. It accepted in principle for the demand, except for the division of Bombay and Punjab.
As per the recommendations of the committee, the States Reorganization Act was passed by parliament in November 1956. It provided for 14 states and 6 centrally administered territories. The Telengana area of the Hyderabad state was merged with Andhra and Andhra Pradesh came into existence on 1 November, 1956.
A separate state of Kerala was created by merging the Malabar district of the old Madras Presidency with Travancore-Cochin. Some territories of Bombay, Madras, Hyderabad and Coorgwere added to Mysore state and Karnataka state emerged.
Bipan Chandra writes, “Thus, after more than ten years of continuous strife and popular struggles linguistic reorganization of India was largely completed, making room for greater political participation by the people”.
Bipan Chandra assures that “the federal structure of the union was not adversely affected or weakened or paralysed the centre as many had feared”. W.H. Morris Jones also writes “the newly fashioned units, it is true, have a self-conscious coherence, but they are willing, thus equipped, to do business with the centre, to work as part of a whole that is India”.
We may agree with Bipan Chandra and Morris Jones but it is to be noted with caution that linguistic division demand is still lingering in the minds of the people yet, because of unequal economic development besides the urge for cohesion among the people speaking the same language. India is still passing through the birth pangs of a true nation because of the deep-rooted historical processes that influenced the course of India.