The British, in their quest to gain power, gave rights left, right and centre to people who helped them which blew up the count of Princely States in India to more than 700. Some got money, some became zamindars and some rulers. Quixotically, some kings are smaller landholders than Zamindars, with the smallest being Vij-o-ness with 173 acres of land and as a comparision, the Raja of Darbhanga, a Zamindar, held 6200 sq km of area. To manage these petty kings, problem very stark in Gujarat and Bundelkhand, a hierarchy of kingdoms, where one reported to another, finally, reaching the British. Take for example, the twin estates of Pantlavdi. They report to Rajpipla which in turn reports to Baroda which in turn reports to the British. Though the Britishers encouraged this chaos, they too started feeling the pinch at a later date – Take the case of these twin estates. The king can neither collect taxes(how much can he?), nor can he give punishments nor can he save himself if attacked. Knowing that 1857 Rebellion occured because the kingdoms were occupied by the British, Canning gave a commitment to the rulers that their kingdoms will not be annexed and this is the real reason for this chaos.
It is estimated that almost 90% of the Princeley States in India are in Central India and in Gujarat area. The reasons for this situation is different in both the areas. Central Indian problems are because the British gave estates to settle freebooters(Garrauli, Tonk) and for their help in Maratha Wars.
As time progressed, and based on their service in 1857, they were graduated to the level of Princeley States. The situation was further complicated by the fragmentation of the main Maratha powers of Gwalior and Indore which was done to reduce the chances of rebellion. Also, knowing that Doctrine of Lapse was one of the main reasons for 1857 rebellion, Canning, the Governor General of East India Company promised no more annexations.
The other area of this problem was Kathiawar in particular and Gujarat in general. Since Baroda was the main tax collecting entity in Gujarat area, in some cases, Baroda directly collected taxes from individual estates(one scenario is that the king has given rights over tax collection to compensate for his quota) – technically a subordinate of the local kingdom but a tax payee to Baroda. When British took the control of tax collection from Baroda in 1807, Alexander Walker, the incharge identified 29 entities paying taxes to Baroda. Looking closely, it turned out that the number is 153 considering the individual estates paying tax to Baroda directly, and in some cases, to multiple entities. Pacts were made with all these entities which graduated them to the level of princeley states. some of them as comic like that Vij-o-ness of 173 acres.
This separation of estates from nobles from the original suzerain and the subsequent arbitration of British in place of the suzerain for any internal disputes resulted in their de facto independence. This was further enhanced by the classification of judicial powers to states in 1857 and 1877 because of which the Political Officer became the ultimate arbitrator as against the head of the parent state or even the chief. The immediate impact of this was a fragmentation of the parent territory and chaos in administration – land assessment, travel and escape of criminals into territories of these petty states. Seeing this, the ruler of Limbdi formally demanded the restoration of almost 25 estates separated from his kingdom. But the British rejected his claims citing Canning’s promise.
Things slightly changed after the First World War based on the contribution for the war For example, Gwalior got 43 feudatories back and Baroda raised it’s pitch again. John McLeod formally proposed to Sayaji Rao Gaekwad in 1920 to annex small states which are paying tribute to him with the argument aimed at Baroda’s geographically fragmented position. But, the request was rejected by the British three times before giving in 1939 with the personal involvement of the Viceroy. It is to note the Gaekwad’s Diwan put the same agreement in 1877 but was shot down. The main difference was, while Gwalior’s feudatories were never recognized as princeley states, Baroda’s were. Proposals were shot down continuously in 1921, 1930 and 1931. But, with the advent of Civil Disobedience Movement which hit the small states very hard, the British had to revisit their stand again. Baroda floated another proposal in 1932 where it proposed Baroda will replace the British as the paramount power. There was opposition but it was generally accepted due to the administrative convenience it provided. This enhancement of power of Baroda was unpalatable to many and there were attempts to shelve it again. This was proposed to the 157 non-salute tributaries of which only ten accepted the proposal. Of the balance, 29 wanted further concessions, 43 non committal and the balance rejected the change. All India States People Conference listed 584 in it’s pamphlet in Ludhiana in Feb 1939. Of these, 384 had a population less than 10,000. It demanded that only states larger than 20 lakh population or 50 lakh revenue can be viable. In 1946, at Gwalior, they increased the count to 50 lakh population and eight crore revenue. This also turned out to be a factor in favour of Baroda.
The British acted upon it and merged Pethapur in 1939 and Katosan Thana in 1940 into Baroda. British, then, formally took the proposal up and constituted a commission under JSH Shattock who recommended the Baroda scheme to all the big entities in Kathiawar. This is what is formally, the Attachment Scheme. It is to happen in two stages – those with an income of less than a lakh should be attached immediately and the balance later. This will result in 21 states and Baroda. Due to the Second World War, this was shelved again. On 16 April 1943, the scheme was announced, with entities less than a lakh being attached immediately and the balance left out for the time being. The princes signed the Instrument of Attachment. Result was that 435 entities became 36 and of the 36, 14 are valid for the second stage. Even, larger entities like Jasdan, Manavadar, Malpur and Muli were attached in the second stage leaving Western India States Agency with 17 States including Baroda. The same was attempted in Gujarat States Agency.
The below states are merged with Baroda and if the process is carried out to it’s completion, Baroda would have gained 15,000 km² and half a million inhabitants to the state
Pethapur(1 February 1940)
Katosan Thana( Maguna, Tejpura, Virsoda, Palej, Deloli, Kasalpura, Memadpura, Rampura, Ijpura, Ranipura, Santhal, Gokalpura and Muljinapura) between June and July 1940.
Ambliara(10 July 1943)
Ghorasar(10 July 1943)
Ilol(10 July 1943)
Khadal(10 July 1943)
Patdi(10 July 1943)
Punadra(10 July 1943)
Ranasan(10 July 1943)
Wasoda(10 July 1943)
Wao(10 July 1943)
Sachodar(24 July 1943)