Priya Naik
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All the king’s men
Regal ministers of eclipsed empires in India
in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
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This chapter looks at the roles, lives and ambitions of the ministers of the princely states of the South Asian subcontinent. Highly educated, sharp and very well remunerated, the Indian dewans, as these ministers were called, formed a part of the political elite during British colonialism. Many were knighted, and they played a crucial role in governance, negotiating local pressures within the princely states while demonstrating administrative efficiency to the British. By the end of the First World War, with the growing participation of the Indian princes in the British Empire, the ministers’ role and responsibilities expanded to include representing the Indian princes at international forums, such as the League of Nations, the Imperial Conferences and the Round Table Conferences. The chapter looks at the many roles these men played, from representing their people, the princes and finally, the British Empire, as well as the tensions between these demands.

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