The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has begun a quest to unravel the history of the many princely States that it claims were the guardians of “Indian life and culture,” but “disappeared unceremoniously and unwept” after India abolished royal entitlements.
The project to uncover States like Cooch Behar and the Kingdom of Travancore has been approved in principle by the ICHR, with an aim to shine light on the many “accomplishments” of these rulers that have not been sufficiently documented.
“Most of the present works are concerning major States like Mysore, Hyderabad, Baroda and Bhopal … Some of them [smaller States] had survived many a vicissitude braving rough tides for about a millennium. They strove to preserve, protect and keep alive the Indian life and culture, though playing at low key and handed down to us whatever we call it ‘Indian’ today,” ICHR chairperson Y.S. Rao told The Hindu .
The ICHR chief cites instances of the royals carrying water from the River Ganga with them during their visits overseas and the purdah observed by the Begums during their travel and stay abroad as example of their patronage of Indian culture.
Prof. Rao alleges that these princely States were not considered sympathetically by “Colonial, Nationalistic and Marxist writers.” He said these writers were all unanimous in being critical about the princes and their role though most of these princes had attempted modern reforms — social, economic, educational, administrative and political — within their capabilities and resources.
Research into the lives and times of these rulers is also expected to bring out little-known facets about them.