During the British rule, from administration point of view India was divided into two parts – first, British India and second, Princely states of India. British India included provinces (regions) that were directly administered by the British, with Acts established and passed in British Parliament and the Princely States were ruled by local rulers. At this time, Rajputana or Rajasthan included:
- One province of Ajmer-Mewara governed directly by British.
- 19 Princely States ruled by native rulers.
Administration in Ajmer-Merwara
Ajmer-Merwara, also known as Ajmir Province was ceded to the British by Daulat Rao Sindhia by a treaty on 25 June 1818. The province consisted of the districts of Ajmer and Merwar, surrounded by Princely states of Rajputana.
Initially when the territory was ceded both Ajmer and Mewara districts were under a single commissioner of East India Company. After the Indian Mutiny of 1857, in 1858 the powers of the Company were transferred to the British Crown and the Governor-General of India. The administration of Ajmer-Merwara was then controlled by an ex officio Chief Commissioner who was the British Political Agent in Rajputana. Hiranand Rupchand Shivdasani was the last chief commissioner before Independence.
Administration of Princely States
Lord Wellesley (1798-1805) and after him Lord Hastings (1813-1823) sought to impose British paramountcy in India for which suppression of the Marathas and the Pindaris was essential. He looked upon the Rajputana States as his natural allies against the Marathas and the Pindaris. Charles Metcalf, the British Resident at Delhi, negotiated alliances with the princely states of Rajasthan. Through these treaties the States of Rajasthan came under the complete subordination of the British.
The princely states of Rajputana were governed through Rajputana Agency.The Rajputana Agency was under the political charge of an Agent reporting directly to the Governor-General of India and residing at Mount Abu in the Aravalli Range. The Rajputana Agency was sub-divided into 3 residencies and 6 agencies. These residencies and agencies in turn included the princely states.
- Alwar Agency
- Included Alwar State
- Bikaner Agency
- Included Bikaner State
- Eastern Rajputana States Agency
- Included states of Bharatpur, Karauli & Dholpur
- Haraoti-Tonk Agency,
- Included states of Bundi, Tonk and Shahpura
- Jaipur Residency
- State of Jaipur, Kishangarh & chiefship of Lava
- Kotah-Jhalawar Agency
- Included states of Kota and Jhalawar
- Mewar Residency
- Included states of Mewar and Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh and Kushalgarh chiefship.
- Western Rajputana States Residency
- Included States of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Sirohi
In principle, the princely states had internal autonomy, while by treaty the British Crown had suzerainty (Princely States recognised the paramountcy of the British Crown) and was responsible for the state’s external affairs. If necessary the British were entitled to interfere in the interior matters of these states.
No changes were made in Gram Panchayats by British government, but the unit Pargana which was higher to Gram Panchayat was converted into districts and it was ruled by a Collector. Now, the Collector was the whole and sole in-charge of the district. Nazim, Tehsildar, Nyayik Tehsildar, Girdavar, Patwari, all worked under him. They had to collect levy and to solve land related issues.