At the time of Indian independence there were 562 native states in India. These states were ruled by hereditary rulers and had been in existence since ages. The size and strength of native states varied from place to place.
The socio-cultural aspects of life also differed from one state to another.
Out of 562 native states 30 were located with in the geographical area of proposed Pakistan and 532 were located within the realms of Indian Union.
The integration of these states was a challenging task because these states were scattered through out the length and breath of India.
The native rulers were apprehensive of democratic system of polity being pursued in British India.
These native rulers wanted to preserve their traditional rights and privileges and their independent existence.
The British policy had also aggravated their problem because the Mountbatten Plan gave three choices to native states and sovereignty was transferred to them. According to the Mountbatten Plan the native states could join India or Pakistan or could remain independent. This led to tremendous pressure on Congress leadership.
The independent existence of native states would have made Indian freedom meaningless and there could have been complete Balkanization of India. In such a scenario the political stability could have been remained a distant dream in India.
The activities of some of the native rulers had further heightened this fear. Some of the native rulers led by Nawab of Bhopal cherished the dream of creating a third union in India and such efforts had to be crushed immediately.
Sarder Patel shouldered the responsibility of the integration of native states with the Indian Union. He formulated a well thought and multi prolonged strategy to bring about the integration of native states with India. He used the policy of carrot and stick to prevail upon the native rulers to accept their accession to India.
Sardar Patel used the spirit of nationalism to arouse the patriotic sentiments of the native rulers. This technique was quite effective as many of the native states agreed to accept their integration with India.
The native rulers were promised complete safety of the traditional privileges and influence. Privy purse was guaranteed to them and their rights was accepted over the properties controlled by them at that time. This policy of conciliation was highly successful.
Sardar Patel also used pressure quite effectively to force the native rulers to sign the instrument of accession. They were threatened with mass agitation and popular revolt. They were also pressurized by the threat of military action and the combined effect of policy of carrot and stick produced remarkable result.
The problem created by the native states of Junagarh and Kashmir clearly reveals the challenge of the task of integration of native states. Sardar Patel succeeded in integrating the states of Junagarh and Hyderabad by using mass revolt and police action assertively but the integration of Kashmir proved to be most troublesome.
Though Raja Hari Singh signed the instrument of Accession on Oct 26,1947 but the problem was created by proxy war organized by Pakistan.