Jim Masselos
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Decolonised rulers
Rajas, maharajas and others in post-colonial India
in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
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The chapter follows the ruling princes of India, the maharajas, rajas, ranas and others, from the partition of British India and the establishment of the successor nations of India and Pakistan in August 1947. It tracks Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel’s integration of the princely states into India, and the problems posed by the former princely state of Kashmir. In 1971, Indira Gandhi’s Congress Party won a landslide victory in general elections in India. The size of her majority enabled her to abolish the princes’ regal privileges and slash their privy purses. The ex-rulers attempted to cope with their difficult financial situation by, among other measures, converting assets such as their palaces into luxury hotels, or by promoting new industries in their former territories. Other ex-princes entered public life from different directions and some stood for election to parliament – with varied success. The chapter concludes with a look at popular attitudes to the ex-princes using their depiction on a logo developed by Air India for its posters and calendars. Its maharaja was presented as having a likeable and humorous persona – and witty.

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