- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-6785-9
- Pages: 304
- Price: £85.00
- Published Date: June 2023
- Series: Studies in Imperialism
The position of India's princely states is a relatively under-studied aspect of the British withdrawal from India and the early years of Indian and Pakistani independence. Far from playing second fiddle to events in the British Indian provinces, the princely states played an integral role in the transfer of power in 1947. Under the British Raj, the princely states were politically autonomous, and the rulers of each state had to be cajoled and, in some cases, forced to accede to India or Pakistan. The princes' commitment to preserving their sovereignty not only threatened the territorial integrity of both South Asian countries but brought them to the brink of war on multiple occasions. Conquering the maharajas tells the often overlooked history of Princely India through the tumultuous end of empire in South Asia and the early years of Indian and Pakistani independence.
'Conquering the Maharajas is a marvellous piece of scholarship that provides both nuanced empirical accounts and a sophisticated analysis of the integration of princely states into the sovereignty projects of both India and Pakistan. It provides a novel historical perspective of the dramas of nation-building in South Asia over two decades that spanned late colonial constitutional debates, Partition and immediate post-colonial statehood. By focusing on the politics of late colonial India from the standpoint of princely rulers and by analysing various "problem cases" in comparative perspective, Akins provides powerful lessons about the complicated and ambivalent processes involved in the making of modern South Asia.'
Adnan Naseemullah, Reader in International Politics, King's College London
'Many histories of the accession of the Indian princely states following the lapse of British paramountcy focus solely on the elite actors. Harrison Akins' accessible account gives an insight into the role of violence as a strategic tool and the pressures on the princes from below. The book is closely researched and combines narrative and sharp analysis in locating the end of princely India in the wider process of South Asian decolonisation.'
Ian Talbot, Emeritus Professor in the History of Modern South Asia, University of Southampton
Introduction: Conquering the maharajas
1 British paramountcy and the princely states
2 The nationalist movement and the princely states
3 The All-India Federation, or the first failed accession
4 The debates over India's constitutional future
5 The princes' resistance to accession
6 Jammu and Kashmir: 'The Switzerland of the East'
7 Hyderabad: The Nizam's gambit
8 Junagadh: Between the sea and a hard place
9 Kalat: Pakistan's frontier challenge
Conclusion: The false promise of autonomy
Harrison Akins is a political scientist and writer based in Washington, DC