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A Federation of Equals? Bringing the Princely States into Unified India

By Ted Svensson


The paper explores perceptions during the early 20th century regarding the required and desired underpinnings of a post-imperial India—i.e. one in which both British India and the indirectly ruled Princely States were first, by the British, proposed and then, through the work of the Indian Constituent Assembly, made to constitute a federation. At the heart of the paper resides a query regarding India’s federal origins—i.e. what enabled the push towards federalism and what was it foremost an answer to—as well as an ambition to relate to India as an exemplary rather than unique case when we address the manner in which notions of proper and full-fledged stateness or statehood developed. While the former is intended as an engagement with India’s many-layered constituent moment—one in which a ‘lapse of paramountcy’ and decolonisation were concurrent both with the partitioning of British India into two nation states and a cessation of Princely rule—the latter tries to rectify the regrettable omission of India in studies on the long-term effects of varying models of direct and indirect imperial rule

Topics: Political Science, India, 20th century, post-imperial, British India, Princely States, indirect rule, Indian Constituent Assembly, federation, federal origins, stateness, constitutent moment, decolonisation, direct imperial rule
Publisher: Department of Political Science, Lund University
Year: 2016
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