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The channels of British influence were both direct and indirect. The political agent advised in the matter of the prince's education. In the twentieth century especially, English tutors were often employed, unless the prince attended one of the princes' and nobles' schools established with Government of India blessings to transmit the more superficial trappings of English public school education.10 Less superficial traits, like the dutiful asceticism of ruling classes trained at Eton, Harrow, and Winchester were more difficult to transmit to heirs who arrived with retinues of ten servants.11 In the twenty years before independence, the larger states often appointed Englishmen from the political department as dewans (chief ministers) and ministers.12 In the latter years of the British Raj, when Indian members of the Indian civil service began to control provincial administration under the direction of Indian ministers in British India, a senior member of the political service observed: "The administration in so-called Indian India was sometimes more under the control of British officers than it was in British India."13

The emergence of nationalism in British India had a curious effect on both the British attitude toward the princes and on the princes themselves. To the extent that the princes were a bulwark of British power, particularly when it began to be challenged in British India, the Government of India was inclined to treat them generously. To the princes, generosity meant being left alone. Yet the need for internal improvements became more apparent as nationalism and reformist sentiment grew. Improvement meant interference.

The chamber of princes was established on a permanent basis in 1921,14 the year after Gandhi turned the nationalist movement in British India in a popular direction. The chamber provided a forum in which princes could protest against efforts by the government to intervene and hurry them along and a context in which they became more conscious of one another and of the requirements that accompanied being a "modern ruler". The chancellor of the chamber of princes in 1927 circulated a memorandum summing up some of the most significant reforms on which he hoped they might all agree; suggested reforms included limitation of the privy purse to 10 per cent of state revenues, an independent judiciary, security of tenure for state civil servants, a promulgated code of law, and the maintenance of an efficient and honest police force.15 The chamber began to create an environment in which good government became more fashionable. Princes vied with one another to secure the services of one of the four or five men who had built all-India reputations as able chief ministers in princely states.16 Paramountcy did, then, affect the structure and quality of government in the princely states. But the channels of British influence were too irregular and undefined to exploit consistently the available opportunities. Imperial policy, which varied with the outlook of the viceroy, his agents, and the developments in British India, never achieved the direction or firmness necessary to make it otherwise.

Caste, clan, land, and chivalric reputation had legitimized rulership in the old princely states ruled by Rajputs, members of the warrior-ruler caste (Kshatriyas). After conclusion of the subsidiary alliances in 1818,17 British recognition and support were required as well. The addition did little, however, to change explicitly the way most Rajastbanis understood the legitimacy of their maharajas or nobles; ascriptive factors justified the exercise of power in 1947 as they had done in 1818.

Yet the old ideas about what made government legitimate were subtly undermined during the period of paramountcy by a tentative new concern with effectiveness and consent. The example of events in British India and British pressures suggested that a prince justify his rule by performance. As Lord Curzon, who was wont to lecture the princes on this subject, put it: A ruler's "gaddi (throne) is not intended to be a divan of indulgence, but the stern seat of duty", and "by this test will he, in the long run, as a political institution, perish or survive."18 Princes were pressed to convert their courts into more "public" institutions and to orient their rule towards public rather than personal and familial benefits. The differentiation of the princes' privy purse from the public revenue, incomplete as it was in many states, and reports on administration that provided a rudimentary accounting of how government had discharged its task were the chief manifestations of this shift. The same influences affected the bureaucracy, which was urged to consider itself a public and professional service, not a body of private retainers.

The idea that greater public service would not only add luster to the name of the maharaja—that idea had already existed in pre-British days—but also become a condition of legitimate rule was by no means universally understood. Only a few, some of the new-style court bureaucrats and members of a tiny educated class, saw its relevance and import. But a good many maharajas, affected by their English tutors or schools, pressure from the political department, the communications spill-over from British India or far-seeing ministers, began to believe that they should serve as well as rule. Their consciousness of themselves as public men was affected by this idea even though they failed often to act on it. At the time of independence, the maharajas' feeble resistance to the challenge of democratic authority and leadership arose in part from an awareness of their failure to meet the new standards.

Traditional ideas of legitimacy were modified in another and more subtle respect. Ordinarily the maharaja sought not to offend and listened to the grievances and advice of the limited political community of the twice-born castes, the Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas who could help or hinder him spiritually, militarily, and financially. Most Rajasthanis were politically irrelevant and thought that they should be. Before 1935, only a tiny circle of intellectuals and modern nationalists without status and power thought otherwise. After 1935, the potential political community, those seeking to share power in the state and to influence government, expanded. A handful of schoolmasters, lawyers, and journalists began to awaken the urban and rural common people by telling them that their interests and aspirations were relevant for government and that its authority should rest on their will. They made little progress; only after independence during the first general election of 1952 did Rajasthanis begin to perceive a connection between popular sovereignty and legitimacy.

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