Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 10:30 UK

India royals' allowances raised

By Narayan Bareth
BBC Hindi service, Jaipur

Asmat Ali Khan

The descendants of the former princely rulers of Tonk in the Indian state of Rajasthan have won a legal battle to raise their monthly allowances.

Each of the 570 descendants will now get a minimum of 100 rupees ($2). The earlier minimum was set at 50 paise (less than a cent).

The descendants would also be paid 20 years worth of arrears, officials said.

The allowance was started in 1944 and the maximum amount was fixed at 500 rupees ($10).

Tonk was the only Muslim princely state in Rajasthan before India gained independence in 1947.

'Not rich'

'"It is matter of pride to receive this amount, because it is a mark of our royal legacy and lineage," said Asmat Ali Khan, the descendant who filed the petition in Rajasthan's high court.

Mr Khan is a former secretary of Anjuman Society Khandan-e-Ameeria (ASKA) which represents the royal descendants of Tonk.

He says not all 570 descendants are rich and many feed their families by working in low-paid jobs.

''Few of them are in government jobs, the rest take up different kinds of work to run their families."

Mr Khan receives 13 rupees 64 paisa (a quarter of a dollar) a month as allowance and it costs him more than double of that in transport to go collect it.

"When I hire an autorickshaw to go to the government office to collect my allowance, I have to pay 30 rupees," he says.

Mohammed Rafique, another royal descendant, says the increased allowance is particularly welcome as it comes just before the Eid festival in September.

"It would be a big relief to many of the descendants as all are not rich. Though they have had a rich history, some of them are leading a life of penury," Mr Rafique says.

''It does not matter if the amount is not big, it is a mark of respect for us. It reminds us of our glorious past," he adds.

An official said the administration has requested the state government to send $240,000 to pay the arrears to the descendants.

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