Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Congress Dominance | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Congress Dominance

  • The Congress party won 364 of the 489 seats in the first Lok Sabha and finished way ahead of any other challenger.
  • The Congress scored big victory in state elections as well.
  • It won a majority of seats in all the states except Travancore-Cochin (part of today’s Kerala), Madras and Orissa. Finally even in these states the Congress formed the government.
  • So the party ruled all over the country at the national and the state level.
  • The Congress dominated during the period 1952-1962.
  • None of the opposition parties could win even one-tenth of the number of seats won by the Congress.
  • Reasons for Congress dominance:
    • The Congress party had inherited the legacy of the national movement.
    • It was the only party then to have an organisation spread all over the country.
    • And finally, in Jawaharlal Nehru, the party had the most popular and charismatic leader in Indian politics.

  • In the state assembly elections, the Congress did not get majority in a few cases.
  • The most significant of these cases was in Kerala in 1957 when a coalition led by the CPI formed the government.
  • Apart from exceptions like this, the Congress controlled the national and all the state governments.
  • The extent of the victory of the Congress was artificially boosted by our electoral system.
  • The Congress won three out of every four seats but it did not get even half of the votes. In 1952, for example, the Congress obtained 45 per cent of the total votes. But it managed to win 74 per cent of the seats.
  • The Socialist Party, the second largest party in terms of votes, secured more than 10 percent of the votes all over the country. But it could not even win three per cent of the seats.
  • How did this happen?
    • In this system of election, that has been adopted in our country, the party that gets more votes than others tends to get much more than its proportional share. That is exactly what worked in favour of the Congress.
    • If we add up the votes of all the non-Congress candidates it was more than the votes of the Congress. But the non-Congress votes were divided between different rival parties and candidates. So the Congress was still way ahead of the opposition and managed to win.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Challenges of Building Democracy | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

First General Elections

  • The Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949 and signed on 24 January 1950 and it came into effect on 26 January 1950. At that time the country was being ruled by an interim government.
  • It was now necessary to install the first democratically elected government of the country.
  • The Election Commission of India was set up in January 1950. Sukumar Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner.
  • The country’s first general elections were expected sometime in 1950 itself. But the Election Commission discovered that it was not going to be easy to hold a free and fair election in a country of India’s size.
  • Holding an election required delimitation or drawing the boundaries of the electoral constituencies. It also required preparing the electoral rolls, or the list of all the citizens eligible to vote. Both these tasks took a lot of time.
  • Preparing for the first general election was a mammoth exercise. No election on this scale had ever been conducted in the world before.
  • At that time there were 17 crore eligible voters. Only 15 per cent of these eligible voters were literate. Therefore the Election Commission had to think of some special method of voting. The Election Commission trained over 3 lakh officers and polling staff to conduct the elections.
  • It was not just the size of the country and the electorate that made this election unusual. The first general election was also the first big test of democracy in a poor and illiterate country. Till then democracy had existed only in the prosperous countries.
  • By that time many countries in Europe had not given voting rights to all women. In this context India’s experiment with universal adult franchise appeared very bold and risky.
  • The elections had to be postponed twice and finally held from October 1951 to February 1952. But this election is referred to as the 1952 election since most parts of the country voted in January 1952.
  • It took six months for the campaigning, polling and counting to be completed.
  • Elections were competitive – there were on an average more than four candidates for each seat. The level of participation was encouraging — more than half the eligible voters turned out to vote on the day of elections. When the results were declared these were accepted as fair even by the losers.
  • The Indian experiment had proved the critics wrong. India’s general election of 1952 became a landmark in the history of democracy all over the world. It was no longer possible to argue that democratic elections could not be held in conditions of poverty or lack of education. It proved that democracy could be practiced anywhere in the world.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Regionalism (II) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Economic Imbalances and Regionalism

  • Economic inequality among different states and regions could be a potential source of trouble. However, this problem has not so far given rise to regionalism or feeling of a region being discriminated against.
  • Steps taken in initial years after independence to reduce economic inequality among states:
    • A major government instrument in bringing this about was the transfer of financial resources to the poorer states. Important in this respect was the role of the Finance Commission.
    • Planning was also seen as a powerful instrument that could be used to remove regional inequality . The Planning Commission allocated greater plan assistance to the backward states.
    • Government incentives have been provided to the private sector to invest in backward areas.
    • Following nationalization of banks in 1969, the expansion of the network of their branches was used to favour backward areas.
  • Economic mobility of population through migration of unskilled labour from the backward regions and of skilled labour to them can also contribute to the lessening of regional disparity.
  • One sector where the principle of the reduction of regional disparity has not been kept in view is that of investment in irrigation and subsidies to agricultural development. This has been especially so since the 1960s when the Green Revolution began and investment in rural infrastructure and technological innovation was concentrated in Punjab, Haryana and western U.P.
  • Despite govt efforts, regional inequality among states has persisted on a wide scale. However, this regional inequality has not given rise to regionalism because:
    • Politically important Hindi-speaking states of the Indian heartland are economically backward. On the other hand, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra are the high-income states. It is, therefore, impossible to talk of the Hindi-belt states’ domination of the others.
    • On the other hand, the backward Hindi-belt states wield so much political clout that it is impossible for them to accuse the central government or non-Hindi states of dominating or discriminating against them.
    • Another reason for the lack of regionalism and feeling of discrimination among the poorer states has been the consciousness of their intelligentsia that their poverty and backwardness are basically the result of the actions of their own political and administrative classes.
  • It is necessary to first contain regional inequality within politically and economically reasonable and acceptable limits and then to gradually move towards its elimination. From the beginning, the national government felt a responsibility to counter this imbalance in regional development.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Regionalism (I) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Understanding Regionalism

  • In the 1950s, many saw regionalism as a major threat to Indian unity.
  • What do not constitute regionalism?
    • Local patriotism and loyalty to a locality or region or state and its language and culture do not constitute regionalism.
    • To have pride in one’s region or state is also not regionalism.
    • Aspiring to or making special efforts to develop one’s state or region is not to be branded as regionalism.
    • Defending the federal features of the constitution is also not to be seen as regionalism.
    • The demand for a separate state within the Indian Union or for an autonomous region within an existing state, is also not regionalism.
  • So what essentially regionalism is?
    • If the interests of one region or state are asserted against the country as a whole or against another region or state in a hostile manner and a conflict is promoted on the basis of such alleged interests it can be dubbed as regionalism.
    • In this sense, there has been very little inter-regional conflict in India since 1947, the major exception being the politics of the DMK in Tamil Nadu in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  • Regionalism could have flourished in India if any region or state had felt that it was being culturally dominated or discriminated against. But, in fact, the Indian nation has proved to be quite successful in accommodating and even celebrating India’s cultural diversity.
  • The linguistic reorganization of India and the resolution of the official language controversy have played a very important role by eliminating a potent cause of inter-regional conflict.
  • Many regional disputes, of course, do exist and they have the potential of fanning interstate hostility . For example, friction between different states over the sharing of river waters. But, these disputes have remained within acceptable, limits.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Tribals (IV) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of Nagaland

  • The Nagas were the inhabitants of the Naga hills along the Northeast frontier on the Assam-Burma border.
  • Immediately after independence, the Government of India followed a policy of integrating the Naga areas with the state of Assam and India as a whole.
  • A section of the Naga leadership, however, opposed such integration and rose in rebellion under the leadership of A.Z. Phizo, demanding separation from India and complete independence.
  • The Government of India responded with a two-track policy in line with Jawaharlal Nehru’s wider approach towards the tribal people discussed earlier in this chapter.
  • On the one hand, the Government of India made it clear that it would firmly oppose the secessionist demand for the independence of Naga areas and would not tolerate recourse to violence.
  • On the other hand, Nehru realized that total physical suppression by military action was neither possible nor desirable, for the objective had to be the conciliation and winning over of the Naga people.
  • Nehru was wedded to a ‘friendly approach’. Even while encouraging the Nagas to integrate with the rest of the country, he favoured their right to maintain their autonomy in cultural and other matters. He was, therefore, willing to go a long way to win over the Nagas by granting them a large degree of autonomy .
  • Refusing to negotiate with Phizo or his supporters as long as they did not give up their demand for independence or the armed rebellion, he carried on prolonged negotiations with the more moderate, non-violent and non-secessionist Naga leaders.
  • Once the back of the armed rebellion was broken by the middle of 1957, the more moderate Naga leaders headed by Dr Imkongliba Ao came to the fore. They negotiated for the creation of the state of Nagaland within the Indian Union. The Government of India accepted their demand steps; and the state of Nagaland came into existence in 1963.
  • With the formation of Nagaland as a state the back of the rebellion was broken as the rebels lost much of their popular support. But though the insurgency has been brought under control, sporadic guerrilla activity by Naga rebels trained in China, Pakistan and Myanmar and periodic terrorist attacks continue till this day.

Integration of Mizoram

  • A situation similar to that in Nagaland developed a few y ears later in the autonomous Mizo district of the Northeast.
  • Unhappiness with the Assam government’s relief measures during the famine of 1959 and the passage of the Act in 1961, making Assamese the official language of the state, led to the formation of the Mizo National Front (MNF), with Laldenga as president.
  • In 1966, the MNF declared independence from India, proclaimed a military uprising and attacked military and civilian targets.
  • The Government of India responded with immediate massive counter-insurgency measures by the army . Within a few weeks the insurrection was crushed and government control restored, though stray guerrilla activity continued. Most of the hard-core Mizo leaders escaped to East Pakistan.
  • In 1973, after the less extremist Mizo leaders had scaled down their demand to that of a separate state of Mizoram within the Indian Union, the Mizo district of Assam was separated from Assam and, as Mizoram, given the status of a Union Territory.
  • Mizo insurgency gained some renewed strength in the late 1970s but was again effectively dealt with by the Indian armed forces.
  • A settlement was finally arrived at in 1986. Laldenga and the MNF agreed to abandon underground violent activities, surrender before the Indian authorities along with their arms, and re-enter the constitutional political stream.
  • The Government of India agreed to the grant of full statehood to Mizoram, guaranteeing full autonomy in regard to culture, tradition, land laws, etc.
  • As a part of the accord, a government with Laldenga as chief minister was formed in the new state of Mizoram in February 1987.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Tribals (III) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of the Tribals III

  • On the whole certain positive developments in the tribal sphere have occurred since 1947.
  • Legislation to protect tribal rights and interests, activities of the tribal welfare departments, Panchayati Raj, spread of literacy and education, reservations in government services and in higher educational institutions, and repeated elections have led to increasing confidence among the tribal people and greater political participation by them in the constitutional political processes.
  • They are now insisting on a greater and more active political role for themselves, and acquiring increasing representation in different political structures and institutions.
  • Above all, they are demanding a greater share in national economic development.
  • Protest movements have sprung up among tribals out of their frustration with the lack of development and welfare. These are bound to produce positive results in time.
  • Some of the protest movements have taken to violence, leading to strong state action against them.
  • The growing tribal antagonism towards the non-tribal people or outsiders living in tribal areas has been another unfortunate development.

Integration of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura

  • The tribes of north-eastern India, consisting of over a hundred groups, speaking a wide variety of languages and living in the hill tracts of Assam, shared many of the features and problems of the tribal people in the rest of the country .
  • But their situation was different in several respects:
    • For one, they constituted the overwhelming majority of the population in most of the areas they inhabited.
    • Then, non-tribals had not penetrated these areas to any significant extent.
    • The virtual absence of any political or cultural contact of the tribals in the Northeast with the political life of the rest of India was also a striking difference.
  • The tribal policy of the Government of India, inspired by Jawaharlal Nehru, was therefore even more relevant to the tribal people of the Northeast. A reflection of this policy was in the Sixth Schedule of the constitution which applied only to the tribal areas of Assam. The Sixth Schedule offered a fair degree of self-government to the tribal people.
  • Nehru’s policies were implemented best of all in the North-East Frontier Agency or NEFA, which was created in 1948 out of the border areas of Assam. NEFA was established as a Union Territory outside the jurisdiction of Assam and placed under a special administration. NEFA was named Arunachal Pradesh and granted the status of a separate state in 1987.
  • While NEFA was developing comfortably and in harmony with the rest of the country , problems developed in the other tribal areas which were part of Assam administratively. The problems arose because the hill tribes of Assam had no cultural affinity with the Assamese and Bengali residents of the plains.
  • Soon, resentment against the Assam government began to mount and a demand for a separate hill state arose among some sections of the tribal people in the mid-1950s. The demand gained greater strength when the Assamese leaders moved in 1960 towards making Assamese the sole official language of the state.
  • In 1969, through a constitutional amendment, Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as ‘a state within a state’ which had complete autonomy except for law and order which remained a function of the Assam government.
  • Meghalaya also shared Assam’s High Court, Public Service Commission and governor. Finally , as a part of the reorganization of the Northeast, Meghalaya became a separate state in 1972, incorporating the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia tribes. Simultaneously , the Union Territories of Manipur and Tripura were granted statehood.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Tribals (II) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of the Tribals II

  • To give shape to the government’s policy, a beginning was made in the constitution itself which directed under Article 46 that the state should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the tribal people and should protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation, through special legislation.
  • The governors of the states in which tribal areas were situated were given special responsibility to protect tribal interests, including the power to modify central and state laws in their application to tribal areas, and to frame regulations for the protection of tribals’ right to land and also their protection from money lenders.
  • The application of the Fundamental Rights was amended for this purpose.
  • The constitution also extended full political rights to the tribal people.
  • In addition, it provided for reservation of seats in the legislatures and positions in the administrative services for the Scheduled Tribes as in the case of the Scheduled Castes.
  • The constitution also provided for the setting up of Tribal Advisory Councils in all states containing tribal areas to advise on matters concerning the welfare of tribals.
  • A Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was appointed by the President to investigate whether the safeguards provided for them were being observed.
  • Legislative as well as executive action was taken by the state governments to prevent loss of tribal lands to non-tribal people and to prevent exploitation of the tribals by money lenders.
  • The central and state governments created special facilities and organized special programmes for the welfare and development of the tribal areas and the tribal people including the promotion of cottage and village industries and generation of employment among them.
  • Large expenditures were undertaken and large sums set apart in the Five-Year Plans for the purpose. The funding for tribal welfare significantly increased after 1971.

  • In spite of the constitutional safeguards and the efforts of the central and state governments, the tribals’ progress and welfare has been very slow, and even dismal.
  • Except in the Northeast, the tribals continue to be poor, indebted, landless and often unemployed.
  • The problem often lies in weak execution of even well-intentioned measures.
  • Quite often there is a divergence between central and state government policies, the latter being less in tune with tribal interests.
  • In particular, state governments have been relatively ineffective in administering the positive policies and laws laid down by the central government or by the state governments themselves.
  • Quite often the funds allocated for tribal welfare are not spent or are spent without corresponding results, or are even misappropriated. One of the watchdogs of tribal interests, the Tribal Advisory Councils, have not functioned effectively .
  • Often the administrative personnel are ill-trained or even prejudiced against tribals. But sympathetic officials are also known to be quickly transferred out of tribal areas under the pressure of traders, money lenders, forest contractors and land-grabbers.
  • A major handicap from which tribals suffer is denial of justice, often because of their unfamiliarity with the laws and the legal system.
  • Laws preventing transfer of land to outsiders have continued to be evaded, leading to alienation of land and eviction of tribals.
  • Rapid extension of mines and industries has worsened their conditions in many areas.
  • Forest laws and regulations are also used by unsympathetic and often corrupt forest officials to harass and exploit the tribal people.
  • As a result of loss of land, deforestation and restrictions on the access to the forest, the tribal people have been facing growing unemployment and have been increasingly driven into more inaccessible stretches of hills and jungles.
  • The progress of education among the tribal people has been disappointingly slow.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Tribals (I) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of the Tribals I

  • The task of integrating the tribal people into the mainstream was extremely complex, given the varied conditions under which they live in different parts of the country , and their different languages and distinct cultures.
  • Residing mostly in the hills and forest areas, in colonial India they lived in relative isolation, and their traditions, habits, cultures and ways of life were markedly different from those of their non-tribal neighbours.
  • The preservation of the tribal people’s rich social and cultural heritage lay at the heart of the government’s policy of tribal integration.
  • There were two major approaches regarding the place to be accorded to tribals in Indian society .
  • One approach was to leave the tribal people alone, uncontaminated by modern influences operating outside their world and to let them stay more or less as they were.
  • The second approach was that of assimilating them completely and as quickly as possible into the Indian society all around them.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru rejected both these approaches. Instead of these two approaches, Nehru favoured the policy of integrating the tribal people in Indian society , of making them an integral part of the Indian nation, even while maintaining their distinct identity and culture.
  • There were two basic parameters of the Nehruvian approach: ‘the tribal areas have to progress’ and ‘they have to progress in their own way’.

  • The problem was how to combine these two seemingly contradictory approaches.
  • Nehru stood for economic and social development of the tribal people in multifarious ways, especially in the fields of communication, modern medical facilities, agriculture and education. In this regard, he laid down certain broad guidelines for government policy .
  • First, the tribals should develop along the lines of their own genius; there should be no imposition or compulsion from outside.
  • Second, tribal rights in land and forests should be respected and no outsider should be able to take possession of tribal lands.
  • Third, it was necessary to encourage the tribal languages which ‘must be given all possible support and the conditions in which they can flourish must be safeguarded’.
  • Fourth, for administration, reliance should be placed on the tribal people themselves, and administrators should be recruited from amongst them and trained.
  • Fifth, there should be no over-administration of tribal areas. The effort should be to administer and develop the tribals’ through them own social and cultural institutions.
  • Nehru’s approach was based on the nationalist policy towards tribals since the 1920s when Gandhiji set up ashrams in the tribal areas and promoted constructive work. After independence this policy was supported by Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, and other major political leaders.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Reorganization of States (II) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

States Reorganization Commission, 1953

  • The formation of Andhra spurred the struggle for making of other states on linguistic lines in other parts of the country.
  • These struggles forced the Central Government into appointing a States Reorganization Commission in 1953 to look into the question of redrawing of the boundaries of states.
  • The Commission in its report accepted that the boundaries of the state should reflect the boundaries of different languages. On the basis of its report the States Reorganization Act was passed in 1956. This led to the creation of 14 states and six union territories.
  • One of the most important concerns in the early years was that demands for separate states would endanger the unity of the country. It was felt that linguistic states may foster separatism and create pressures on the newly founded nation.
  • But the leadership, under popular pressure, finally made a choice in favour of linguistic states. It was hoped that if we accept the regional and linguistic claims of all regions, the threat of division and separatism would be reduced. Besides, the accommodation of regional demands and the formation of linguistic states were also seen as more democratic.
  • Now it is more than fifty years since the formation of linguistic states. We can say that linguistic states and the movements for the formation of these states changed the nature of democratic politics and leadership in some basic ways. The path to politics and power was now open to people other than the small English speaking elite.
  • Linguistic reorganization also gave some uniform basis to the drawing of state boundaries. It did not lead to disintegration of the country as many had feared earlier. On the contrary it strengthened national unity.
  • Above all, the linguistic states underlined the acceptance of the principle of diversity.

Bilingual States

  • The acceptance of the principle of linguistic states did not mean, however, that all states immediately became linguistic states.
  • There was an experiment of ‘bilingual’ Bombay state, consisting of Gujarati- and Marathi-speaking people. After a popular agitation, the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created in 1960.
  • In Punjab also, there were two linguistic groups: Hindi-speaking and Punjabi-speaking. The Punjabi-speaking people demanded a separate state. But it was not granted with other states in 1956. Statehood for Punjab came ten years later, in 1966, when the territories of today’s Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were separated from the larger Punjab state.
  • Another major reorganisation of states took place in the north-east in 1972. Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972. Manipur and Tripura too emerged as separate states in the same year. The states of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh came into being in 1987. Nagaland had become a state much earlier in 1963.
  • Language did not, however, remain the sole basis of organisation of states. In later years sub-regions raised demands for separate states on the basis of a separate regional culture or complaints of regional imbalance in development. Three such states, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, were created in 2000.
  • The story of reorganisation has not come to an end. There are many regions in the country where there are movements demanding separate and smaller states. These include Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Harit Pradesh in the western region of Uttar Pradesh and the northern region of West Bengal.


Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Reorganization of States (I) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Boundaries of the Indian States

  • The process of nation-building did not come to an end with Partition and integration of Princely States. Now the challenge was to draw the internal boundaries of the Indian states.
  • This was not just a matter of administrative divisions. The boundaries had to be drawn in a way so that the linguistic and cultural plurality of the country could be reflected without affecting the unity of the nation.
  • During colonial rule, the state boundaries were drawn either on administrative convenience or simply coincided with the territories annexed by the British government or the territories ruled by the princely powers.
  • Our national movement had rejected these divisions as artificial and had promised the linguistic principle as the basis of formation of states.
  • In fact after the Nagpur session of Congress in 1920 the principle was recognized as the basis of the reorganization of the Indian National Congress party itself.
  • Many Provincial Congress Committees were created by linguistic zones, which did not follow the administrative divisions of British India.

Linguistic Reorganization

  • Things changed after Independence and Partition. Our leaders felt that carving out states on the basis of language might lead to disruption and disintegration.
  • It was also felt that this would draw attention away from other social and economic challenges that the country faced.
  • The central leadership decided to postpone matters. The need for postponement was also felt because the fate of the Princely States had not been decided. Also, the memory of Partition was still fresh.
  • This decision of the national leadership was challenged by the local leaders and the people. Protests began in the Telugu speaking areas of the old Madras province, which included present day Tamil Nadu, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka.
  • The Vishalandhra movement (as the movement for a separate Andhra was called) demanded that the Telugu speaking areas should be separated from the Madras province of which they were a part and be made into a separate Andhra province.
  • Nearly all the political forces in the Andhra region were in favour of linguistic reorganization of the then Madras province. The movement gathered momentum as a result of the Central government’s vacillation.
  • Potti Sriramulu, a Congress leader and a veteran Gandhian, went on an indefinite fast that led to his death after 56 days. This caused great unrest and resulted in violent outbursts in Andhra region.
  • People in large numbers took to the streets. Many were injured or lost their lives in police firing. In Madras, several legislators resigned their seats in protest. Finally, the Prime Minister announced the formation of a separate Andhra state in December 1952.