I just finished reading “Dethroned-Patel, Menon and the integration of princely India” by John Zubrzyck
I just finished reading “Dethroned-Patel, Menon and the integration of princely India” by John Zubrzyck This book gives a remarkable insight into the story of how the over five hundred princely states were integrated into India at the time of independence. One was aware of the stellar role of Sardar Patel and his secretary of the states department Mr. V.P Menon in making the states sign the instrument of accession in favour of the Indian dominion but this book reads like a thriller. The intricacies that were involved in the process are fascinating. Patel and Menon coaxed, cajoled and used subtle threats to make the princes agree to make their state a part of the Indian union. Hyderabad, Bhopal, Junagadh and some of the Rajput states were the most recalcitrant. The Nizam of Hyderabad declared himself independent and it required army intervention in the Garb of Police action to make him buckle down. The Iron will of Sardar Patel and the negotiation skills of Menon made this impossible situation a reality. Nehru also was fully involved in making the states accede to the Indian union but he was a pacifist in his approach as opposed to Sardar Patel who did not shirk from twisting the arms of the princes who were acting difficult. The book brings out that contrary to the claims this process of accession and so called Police action was anything but bloodless.
The author does show Lord Mountbatten in a favourable light with which I personally do not agree but I guess western authors have this predilection. The book shows that the Kashmir issue was taken out of the purview of the state department. Incidentally, about article 370 it says that initially all members of the Congress working committee barring two were opposed to it. However, Nehru who was abroad made an emotional plea to Sardar Patel who then used his stature to make all members of CWC agree to article 370.
The book also has very interesting and amusing anecdotes about the eccentricities and peccadilloes of the princes. The remarkable fact is that despite the extravagance of the princes and their addiction to a hedonistic life of some of them they were very much respected by their subjects.
The book is an interesting read for all those who are interested in the contemporary history of India in particular to the momentous events of India getting its independence. For those interested in this subject I would suggest they read the biography of V.P Menon and also the book on reorganization of states written by Menon. I read these books sometime ago and they are the source material for “Dethroned”. Incidentally, for those who may not know V.P Menon was not an ICS officer but started his career as a stenographer in the home department.