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The Evolution of British Policy Towards Indian States

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About the Book

An Indian State has been officially defined as any State in India under the protection or political control of the British Crown or of which the Government has acknowledged its supremacy. Whereas no such state existed in India in 1774, by 1858 all the States of India had come to occupy the position defined above. The present work examines how this great transformation was brought about and outlines the essential features of British policy towards the States which, owing to the circumstances of Indian historical growth remained at all times a complex one. While there are numerous books dealing with British relations with individual States, a connected study of British policy towards the States has not so far been accepted. Originally delivered as the prestigious Readership Lecturers at the University of Calcutta in 1929, the present work which provides the clearest and most consequent exposition of that policy still remains an objective reference work on the subject. This insightful study of an important aspect of the growth of British power in India is essential reading for all serious students of modern Indian history.


Sardar K.M. Panikkar, (1895-1963), his to rian, scholar, diplomat and statesman, was born in Kerala and was educated at Madras and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was placed in the first in the Modern history school. He also read for the bar at the Middle Temple and taught for a few years at the Aligarh Muslim University before turning to journalism (1925) as the founder-editor of The Hindustan Times. Entering political life in the service of Indian Princes, he was Secretary to the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, served as foreign minister of Patiala, and was foreign and subsequently prime minister of Bikaner 1944-47. After Independence he moved over to diplomatic career, becoming India’s ambassador to China 1948-52, and Egypt 1952-53. He was member of the States Reorganisation Commission during 1953-55 before he returned to diplomatic service as India’s ambassador to France 1956-59. He was back in the university world in the last years of his life and was vice chancellor of the University of Mysore at the time of his death. Panikkar was a prolific writer with an astonishingly wide range of interests. “He can write”, said Krishna Menon, “a history book in half an hour which I could not write in six years”, and attributed this to his sound basic training, vast erudition and varied experience of public affairs. “It is not pure researchers”, argued Panikkar, “who have produced historical literature of high value, but men of affairs who have themselves played some part in the life of their country….In fact to give life to history and to convey to the readers the spirits of historical evolution it would seem that experience of public affairs is in some degree essential”. The soundness of this thesis has been borne out by his own numerous historical works, several of which have profoundly influenced contemporary thought and perceptions.

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