Salute states, British India - privileges to fool former rulers

Indian army soldiers paid gun salute,Victory Day celebrations in Kolkata

The British, who landed in India as mercantile  traders in 1600s, ultimately became the rulers of vast Indian subcontinent. They achieved this great feat through their tactical skill and military
power beefed up by their innate diabolism and cunningness. That, during their presence in India there was no semblance of neither unity  nor cooperation among the Indian rulers of various regions is true and the attitude of the then rulers made their job easier just like the proverbial  Jackal, who wanted to feed on a group of five inseparable  fat bulls, created enmity among them  so that he could feed on their fat. He finally succeeded in getting them separated from one another  and at last gobbled  them up one by one. The Indian political scenario was quite conducive their famous "Divide and Rule"  policy

The divided Indian rulers lost their exalted positions and pushed to the lowly positions by the wily British. The  rulers, who once owned vast lands  with plenty of income  had to be content with limited land under their control and limited money in the form of  payouts from the British rulers. In order to keep the rulers cheerful and  and in check, the  British came with the novel idea of giving  them certain grants. honors, fancy (funny) titles, etc., to match the ruler's  former royal status, legacy and the size of their lands, not to speak of their closeness to the higher-ups in the British Crown. Their legal heirs also continued to enjoy those special privileges bestowed on them by the British. The names of the title, nature of privileges, etc., also depended on their depth of loyalty to the crown.

Among the privileged honors, Gun Salute was an important one. The prominent monarchs and rulers of the princely states were granted gun salutes that ranged from 21 guns as granted to the leading territorial rulers, to 3 guns  meant for some local chieftains and Maharajahs. Those states were called ''Salute States".

So, Salute States of India  were those  Indian princely states during the British Raj which were granted a gun salute by the British Crown as paramount monarch. This was a protocolary privilege, which was a form of ceremony and etiquette  officially observed by the rulers of the states or diplomats to be greeted. This  privilege, first introduced in the Royal Navy ships, was followed later on land. The  number of gun shots  recognized the relative status of the particular princely state. The ruler of an Indian princely state,  upon arrival at the capital of British India, was formally greeted with a number of gun shots which were considered as ''gun salutes''. The frequency of these consecutive salutes was dependent on the degree of honor that the British Government of India decided to bestow on a certain ruler of a princely state. 

Paramilitary personnel offer gun salute. rehearsal for Republic Day

. Indian Princely states.

The gun salutes given to the 'salute states' of India decreased by 2 guns less than the earlier rank in each step, such as 21 guns, 19 guns, 17 guns, 15 guns etc. The ranking of the Indian princes was on the basis of  the prestige or status of the ruler and the state and  the military strength, territorial size, heredity and lineage, etc.

The variations in gun salute remind me of the  stratified British society such as royals, aristocrats, commoners or working class, etc. The British were very serious about their  normal procedures of honor and protocol formalities and it was a measure of faith in each other British vs Indian rulers. The gun salute provided to the Salute States of India was  an important protocol that was firmly followed to by the rulers. The Nizam, Maharajahs, Princes, etc., were  keen in following the necessary  protocol and saw to it that it was practiced as a matter of faith. Any departure from it was not taken kindly by them. Salute of guns was one such protocol that was strictly adhered to.  

The number of gun salutes given to a ruler was typically an indication of his position and his association with the British and apparent degree of political power of the ruler. The higher the gun salute, the greater the affiliation of the ruler with the British

The following may be worth noting:

 01. The 21 gun salute was considered as the highest gun salute. 

 02. The Viceroy of India was  granted a 31 gun salute.  03. The number of gun salutes gained importance during  the Coronation Durbar in Delhi in December, 1911.  
04. Three Princely States were officially granted 21 gun salutes - the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Maharajah of princely state of Mysore and the Maharajah Gaekwad of the princely state of Baroda.

The Blank Canvas - blogger

05. Other princely  had the privilege of  a salute of 21 gun within the confines of their own state and 19 guns in the rest of British India, such as the Maharajah Scindia of Gwalior,  the Maharajah

Holkar of Indore, et al. The Maharajah of Travancore also held a personal 21 gun salute.

06. The tradition of gun salute and title Highness, etc., continued after 1948 till 1971.

07. Hereditary Salutes of 21 Guns : The Maharajah of Mysore and the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, et al.

08. Hereditary Salutes of 19 : Guns and Local Salutes of 21 Guns : the Maharana of Udaipur, the Nawob of Bhopal, the Maharajah Holkar of Indore, et al.

 09. Salutes of 17 Guns and Local Salutes of 15:the Maharajah of Patiala.

 10. Hereditary Salutes of 15 Guns : The Maharajah Dhar, the Maharawahl of Banswara, et al 

 11. Hereditary Salutes of 9 Guns : The Maharana of Wadhwan, the Maharaja of Sonepur, the Raja of Shahpura,et al.

 12. At the time of Indian independence and partition in 1947, 122 of the roughly 565 princely states were classified as "salute states."

Giving special privileges, honor and allowances to the once privileged Indian rulers, whose family had been rulers of this land for centuries by the foreign invader - the British  is akin to robbing Peter of his  big sack of gold coins and, out of sympathy or as an act of reparation, giving him back one or two  gold coins!!