Harrison Akins
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The false promise of autonomy
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The concluding chapter discusses the princely states’ engagement with New Delhi after acceding to India on the terms contained within the Instrument of Accession. It shows how, in the face of continued political activity by the princely states’ subjects and despite Indian promises that their internal autonomy would be respected, the princes soon succumbed to the twin forces of democratization and integration, which led to the Indian government successfully dismantling the layered sovereignty of British colonial rule and the ultimate demise of the princely order. The chapter outlines the fate of the princes and monarchical notions of political hierarchy within independent India and Pakistan. It finishes up with a discussion of how the narrative and analysis of the princely states presented in the book, along with the four case studies, contribute to a broader understanding of state sovereignty before and after the transfer of power in South Asia and the debates and conflicts surrounding it. This discussion stresses the historical importance of understanding the position and status of the princely states through the transfer of power in 1947.

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Conquering the maharajas

India’s princely states and the end of empire, 1930–50


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