Brief notes on the States People’s Movement of IndiaBrief notes on the States People’s Movement of India



There were about 600 states in India which were ruled over by Indian princes. They covered about one-third of India's territory and about one-fifth of India's population. Many of these states were so small as to be no more than zamindaris.

There were some like Hyderabad, which were large and had a population of several million people. These states were allowed to continue after the Revolt of 1857 though they were at the mercy of the British government. As they owed their existence to the British government, they were loyal supporters of the British rule in India. These states were ruled by the princes in a most authoritarian manner. People suffered from extreme economic and political disabilities in these states.

They had no civil rights and no law except that of the ruler and had to perform forced labour. While the people were oppressed, the rulers led opulent and degenerated lives. Any attempt at political, social and economic reform in these states was moat ruthlessly putdown. The nationalist movement could not be fully national unless it concerned itself also with the liberation of the people of the Indian states from the oppression of their rulers.

The Congress for a long time did not pay much heed to the sad plight of these people. However, the people in several states organized themselves and demanded civil rights in the states. In 1927 the All India States People's Conference was formed.

The Conference focused the attention of the Indian people all over the country on the conditions prevailing in the states. In a statement, the Conference pointed out: "In these states, big or small, with very few exceptions, personal, autocratic rule prevails. There is no rule of law and taxation is excessive and unbearable. Civil liberties are crushed."

The privy purse of the rulers is usually not fixed and even where it is fixed, that is not adhered to. On the one hand, there is the extravagance and luxury of the princes; on the other hand, the extreme poverty of the people. The Congress gradually veered round to this view and gave recognition to the rights of the people of the states. It declared: "The Congress stands for the same political, social and economic freedom in the States as in the rest of India and considers the States as integral parts of India which cannot be separated.

Purna Swaraj or complete independence which is the objective of congress is for the whole of India, inclusive of the States, for the integrity and unity of India must be maintained in freedom as it has been maintained in subjection." Thus the ending of the oppressive rule of the Indian princes became a part of the nationalist movement's programme and the aim of building a united India was firmly laid down.