When India got freedom in 1947, the biggest challenge was to integrate the Indian subcontinent. This was a mammoth task and undertaken by the Iron Man or Sardar Patel. Merging the 554 princely states with the Indian state was an uphill task. It was like building a monument of a huge size. We have not read a book on this subject for a long time. At least no so detailed one from any of the historians. But V. P. Menon who worked closely with Sardar Patel to help integrate the princely states with India, has put this in detail in his book ‘Integration of The Indian States’ whose reissue has just appeared in the market. The book details the negotiations he carried out with each of these states.
Menon has taken up the case of each state and shown how they were persuaded to sign the Instrument of Accession which made them a part of the Indian union.
Menon also outlines the story of states the way they were grouped together to form new administrative units. This reissue of the volume has a new Introduction that contextualises it for contemporary readers. It gives us a brief account of the author, the book and the background in which it was written. It tells us how the process of carving out states from the jigsaw puzzle that India was after Independence is something that continues. The book is a great account of the post-independence challenges faced by India. It is a must read for people who want to know the real story.