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Princely states of India were nominally sovereign entities of British India during the British Raj that was not directly governed by the British, but rather a form of indirect rule, subject to a subsidiary alliance and the suzerainty or paramountcy of the British crown. There were officially 565 princely states in India at the time of independence in 1947, but the great majority had only contracted with the Viceroy of India to provide public services and tax collection. Only 21 major ones had actual state governments, and among them only four were large (Hyderabad State, Mysore State, Baroda State and Jammu and Kashmir State). They acceded to one or other of the two new independent nations between 1947 and 1949. The accession process was largely peaceful except in the case of Jammu and Kashmir (which became bitterly divided between India and Pakistan) and Hyderabad. All the princes were eventually pensioned off.
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