Accepted paper:

The Baroda blueprint: an Indian princely state in the building of independent India

Author:

Teresa Segura-Garcia (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

In the late colonial period, Maharaja Sayaji Rao III of Baroda positioned his state (the main princely state of western India) as a blueprint for the Indian nation. The local loyalties he fostered have contributed to layered and often contradictory experiences of belonging in postcolonial India.

Paper long abstract:

In the late colonial period, the Indian princely states comprised a third of the territory of the Indian subcontinent and one fifth of its population. Within South Asian historiography, they have been understood as British-sponsored remnants of tradition that were marked for extinction. If the princely states' seemingly unproblematic absorption into independent India has cast a long shadow over research on these polities, this paper complicates this teleological narrative through the study of Baroda, the leading princely state of Western India. In Baroda, Maharaja Sayaji Rao III articulated a local project of patriotic nationalist belonging through an extensive programme of social, cultural and educational reforms. Museums, schools, libraries, parks and sports grounds cultivated local attachment and pride.

At the same time, Sayaji Rao III maintained close ties with and provided financial support to all-India anticolonial nationalists, from Congress moderates to radicals exiled in Europe. How may we reconcile his efforts in building up Baroda as a 'patria' with his support for an all-India national space? I argue that in the early twentieth century Sayaji Rao III positioned Baroda as a blueprint for the Indian nation - a model that stood in for it until Independence could be brought about. Even as it disappeared with its accession into the Union of India in 1949, Baroda was central to the construction of independent India. At the same time, I propose that the local loyalties advanced by Sayaji Rao III have contributed to layered and often contradictory experiences of belonging in postcolonial western India.

panel P22
Conspiracy, terrorism and counterterrorism in late colonial India (c.1900-1947)