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) – 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.

 

Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – The Language Problem (4) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

The Language Problem I


  • The language problem was the most divisive issue in the first twenty years of independent India, and it created the apprehension among many that the political and cultural unity of the country was in danger.
  • People love their language; it is an integral part of culture. Consequently , linguistic identity has been a strong force in all societies. This is even more true of a multilingual society like India’s.
  • Linguistic diversity would inevitably give birth to strong political currents around issues linked to language, such as educational and economic development, job and other economic opportunities and access to political power.
  • The Indian constitution recognizes twenty -two major languages, including English and Sanskrit. In addition, there are a myriad languages spoken by the tribals and others, with or without their own scripts.
  • The problem posed to national consolidation by linguistic diversity has taken two major forms:
    • (i) the dispute over official language of the union and
    • (ii) the linguistic reorganization of the states.

The Language Problem II

  • The controversy on the language issue became most virulent when it took the form of opposition to Hindi and tended to create conflict between Hindi-speaking and non-Hindi-speaking regions of the country .
  • The issue of a national language was resolved when the constitution-makers virtually accepted all the major languages as ‘languages of India’ or India’s national languages. But the matter could not end there, for the country ’s official work could not be carried on in so many languages. There had to be one common language in which the central government would carry on its work and maintain contact with the state governments.
  • The question arose what would be this language of all-India communication? Or what would be India’s official and link language?
  • Only two candidates were available for the purpose: English and Hindi. Hindi or Hindustani, the other candidate for the status of the official or link language, had already played this role during the nationalist struggle, especially during the phase of mass mobilization.
  • Hindi had been accepted by leaders from non-Hindi-speaking regions because it was considered to be the most widely spoken and understood language in the country . The real debate in the Constituent Assembly occurred over two questions: Would Hindi or Hindustani replace English? And what would be the time-frame for such a replacement to happen?

The Language Problem III

  • The question of Hindi or Hindustani was soon resolved. Gandhiji and Nehru both supported Hindustani, written in the Devanagari or Urdu script. Though many supporters of Hindi disagreed, they had tended to accept the Gandhi–Nehru viewpoint.
  • The issue of the time-frame for a shift from English to Hindi produced a divide between Hindi and non-Hindi areas. The spokespersons of Hindi areas were for the immediate switchover to Hindi, while those from non-Hindi areas advocated retention of English for a long if not indefinite period.
  • The case for Hindi basically rested on the fact that it was the language of the largest number, though not of the majority , of the people of India; it was also understood at least in the urban areas of most of northern India from Bengal to Punjab and in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • The critics of Hindi talked about it being less developed than other languages as a literary language and as a language of science and politics. But their main fear was that Hindi’s adoption as the official language would place non-Hindi areas, especially South India, at a disadvantage in the educational and economic spheres, and particularly in competition for appointments in government and the public sector.
  • Such opponents tended to argue that imposition of Hindi on non-Hindi areas would lead to their economic, political, social and cultural domination by Hindi areas.

The Language Problem IV

  • A compromise was arrived at. The constitution provided that Hindi in Devanagari script with international numerals would be India’s official language. English was to continue for use in all official purposes till 1965, when it would be replaced by Hindi. Hindi was to be introduced in a phased manner. After 1965 it would become the sole official language.
  • Implementation of the language provisions of the constitution proved to be a formidable task. The issue remained a subject of intense controversy , and became increasingly acrimonious with the passage of time.
  • Sharp differences on the official language issue surfaced during 1956–60. In 1956, the Report of the Official Language Commission recommended that Hindi should start progressively replacing English in various functions of the central government with effective change taking place in 1965.
  • Fully aware of the danger that the official language issue could pose to Indian polity , the leadership of the Congress took the grievances of the non-Hindi areas seriously and handled the issue with great care and caution. In pursuance of Nehru’s assurances, though with delay caused by internal party pressures and the India–China war, an Official Languages Act was passed in 1963.
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri, Nehru’s successor as prime minister, was unfortunately not sensitive enough to the opinion of non-Hindi groups. Instead of taking effective steps to counter their fears of Hindi becoming the sole official language, he declared that he was considering making Hindi an alternative medium in public service examinations. This meant that while non-Hindi speakers could still compete in the all-India services in English, Hindi speakers would have the advantage of being able to use their mother tongue.
  • Many non-Hindi leaders in protest changed their line of approach to the problem of the official language. While previously they had wanted a slowing down of the replacement of English, now they started demanding that there should be no deadline fixed for the changeover.
  • Some of the leaders went much further. On 17 January , the DMK organized the Madras State Anti-Hindi Conference which gave a call for observing 26 January as a day of mourning. Widespread rioting and violence followed in the early weeks of February leading to large-scale destruction of railway s and other Union property. The agitation continued for about two months, taking a toll of over sixty lives through police firings.
  • With the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in January 1966, Indira Gandhi became the prime minister. As she had already won the trust of the people of the South, they were convinced that a genuine effort would be made to resolve the long-festering dispute.
  • Indira Gandhi moved the bill to amend the 1963 Official Language Act. The Act provided that the use of English as an associate language in addition to Hindi for the official work at the Centre and for communication between the Centre and non-Hindi states would continue as long as the non-Hindi states wanted it, giving them full veto powers on the question.

 

Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Relations with Pakistan | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Kashmir and Pakistan


Relations with Pakistan

  • Despite the Kashmir issue, the Government of India adopted towards Pakistan a policy of fair dealing and of promoting conciliation and reducing mutual tensions.
  • In January 1948, the Government of India, following a fast by Gandhiji, paid Pakistan Rs 550 million as part of the assets of Partition, even when it feared that the money might be used to finance military action in Kashmir.
  • Along with the Kashmir issue, an important source of constant tension between the two countries was the strong sense of insecurity among Hindus in East Bengal. This led to the steady migration of the persecuted Hindus from East Bengal to West Bengal and retaliatory attacks on Muslims in West Bengal, leading to their migration.
  • Many urged the Government of India to intervene in East Bengal militarily to protect the minority there. But, though very concerned about the fate of Hindus in East Bengal and the rise of communal sentiment in India, Nehru and the Government of India refused to get provoked into retaliatory action.
  • On 8 April 1950, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan signed an agreement known as the Nehru–Liaqat Pact to resolve the issue of protection of the minorities.
  • Notwithstanding continuous differences and acrimony , the two governments were also able to sign several agreements on trade and travel between the two countries.
  • One of the most ticklish problems faced by the two countries was that of the distribution of canal water in Punjab. Showing a degree of generosity , the Government of India agreed to supply an undiminished quantity of water to Pakistan.
  • In general, the Government of India followed the policy of trying to improve relations with Pakistan and, above all, to prevent the emergence of a climate of hostility and hatred.

 

Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Princely States (3) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)


Integration of Kashmir


  • The state of Kashmir bordered on both India and Pakistan. Its ruler Hari Singh was a Hindu, while nearly 75 per cent of the population was Muslim.
  • Hari Singh too did not accede either to India or Pakistan. Fearing democracy in India and communalism in Pakistan, he hoped to stay out of both and to continue to wield power as an independent ruler.
  • The popular political forces led by the National Conference and its leader Sheikh Abdullah, however, wanted to join India.
  • The Indian political leaders took no steps to obtain Kashmir’s accession and, in line with their general approach, wanted the people of Kashmir to decide whether to link their fate with India or Pakistan.
  • In this they were supported by Gandhiji, who declared in August 1947 that Kashmir was free to join either India or Pakistan in accordance with the will of the people.
  • But Pakistan not only refused to accept the principle of plebiscite for deciding the issue of accession in the case of Junagadh and Hyderabad.
  • Several Pathan tribesmen, led unofficially by Pakistani army officers, invaded Kashmir and rapidly pushed towards Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. The ill-trained army of the Maharaja proved no match for the invading forces. In panic, the Maharaja appealed to India for military assistance. The Maharaja acceded to India and also agreed to install Abdullah as head of the state’s administration.
  • Even though both the National Conference and the Maharaja wanted firm and permanent accession, India, in conformity with its democratic commitment and Mountbatten’s advice, announced that it would hold a referendum on the accession decision once peace and law and order had been restored in the Valley .
  • After accession the cabinet took the decision to immediately fly troops to Srinagar.
    Fearful of the dangers of a full-scale war between India and Pakistan, the Government of India agreed to refer the Kashmir problem to the United Nations Security Council.
  • The Security Council, guided by Britain and the United States, tended to side with Pakistan.
  • In accordance with one of its resolutions both India and Pakistan accepted a ceasefire on 31 December 1948 which still prevails and the state was effectively divided along the ceasefire line.
  • In 1951, the UN passed a resolution providing for a referendum under UN supervision after Pakistan had withdrawn its troops from the part of Kashmir under its control. The resolution has remained infructuous since Pakistan has refused to withdraw its forces from what is known as Azad Kashmir.
  • Since then Kashmir has been the main obstacle in the path of friendly relations between India and Pakistan. India has regarded Kashmir’s accession as final and irrevocable and Kashmir as its integral part. Pakistan continues to deny this claim.

Integration of Pondicherry and Goa


  • Two other trouble spots remained on the Indian body politic. These were the French- and Portuguese-owned settlements dotting India’s east and west coasts, with Pondicherry and Goa forming their hub.
  • The people of these settlements were eager to join their newly liberated mother-country .
    The French authorities were more reasonable and after prolonged negotiations handed over Pondicherry and other French possessions to India in 1954.
  • But the Portuguese were determined to stay on, especially as Portugal’s NATO allies, Britain and the US, were willing to support this defiant attitude.
  • The Government of India, being committed to a policy of settling disputes between nations by peaceful means, was not willing to take military steps to liberate Goa and other Portuguese colonies.
  • The people of Goa took matters in their hands and started a movement seeking freedom from the Portuguese, but it was brutally suppressed as were the efforts of non-violent satyagrahis from India to march into Goa.
  • In the end, after waiting patiently for international opinion to put pressure on Portugal, Nehru ordered Indian troops to march into Goa on the night of 17 December 1961.
    The Governor-General of Goa immediately surrendered without a fight and the territorial and political integration of India was completed, even though it had taken over fourteen years to do so.

 

Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Princely States (2) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)


Integration of Manipur


  • A few days before Independence, the Maharaja of Manipur, Bodhachandra Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession with the Indian government on the assurance that the internal autonomy of Manipur would be maintained.
  • Under the pressure of public opinion, the Maharaja held elections in Manipur in June 1948 and the state became a constitutional monarchy. Thus Manipur was the first part of India to hold an election based on universal adult franchise.
  • In the Legislative Assembly of Manipur there were sharp differences over the question of merger of Manipur with India. While the state Congress wanted the merger, other political parties were opposed to this.
  • The Government of India succeeded in pressurising the Maharaja into signing a Merger Agreement in September 1949, without consulting the popularly elected Legislative Assembly of Manipur. This caused a lot of anger and resentment in Manipur, the repercussions of which are still being felt.

Integration of Junagadh


  • Junagadh was a small state on the coast of Saurashtra surrounded by Indian territory and therefore without any geographical contiguity with Pakistan.
  • Yet, its Nawab announced accession of his state to Pakistan on 15 August 1947 even though the people of the state, overwhelmingly Hindu, desired to join India.
  • The Indian nationalist leaders had for decades stood for the sovereignty of the people against the claims of the princes. It was, therefore, not surprising that in Junagadh’s case Nehru and Patel agreed that the final voice, like in any other such case, for example Kashmir or Hyderabad, should be that of the people as ascertained through a plebiscite.
  • Going against this approach, Pakistan accepted Junagadh’s accession. On the other hand, the people of the state would not accept the ruler’s decision. They organized a popular movement, forced the Nawab to flee and established a provisional government.
  • The Dewan of Junagadh, Shah Nawaz Bhutto, the father of the more famous Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, now decided to invite the Government of India to intervene. Indian troops thereafter marched into the state.
  • A plebiscite was held in the state in February 1948 which went overwhelmingly in favour of joining India.

 

Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Princely States (1) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of the British Indian Provinces and the Princely States


  • British India was divided into what were called the British Indian Provinces and the Princely States.
  • The British Indian Provinces were directly under the control of the British government.
  • On the other hand, several large and small states ruled by princes, called the Princely States, enjoyed some form of control over their internal affairs as long as they accepted British supremacy. This was called paramountcy or suzerainty of the British crown.
  • Princely States covered one-third of the land area of the British Indian Empire and one out of four Indians lived under princely rule.

The problem

  • Just before Independence it was announced by the British that with the end of their rule over India, paramountcy of the British crown over Princely States would also lapse. This meant that all these states, as many as 565 in all, would become legally independent.
  • The British government took the view that all these states were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent if they so wished. This decision was left not to the people but to the princely rulers of these states.
  • This was a very serious problem and could threaten the very existence of a united India. The problems started very soon.
    • First of all, the ruler of Travancore announced that the state had decided on Independence.
    • The Nizam of Hyderabad made a similar announcement the next day.
    • Rulers like the Nawab of Bhopal were averse to joining the Constituent Assembly.
  • This response of the rulers of the Princely States meant that after Independence there was a very real possibility that India would get further divided into a number of small countries.
  • The prospects of democracy for the people in these states also looked bleak. This was a strange situation, since the Indian Independence was aimed at unity, self-determination as well as democracy.
  • In most of these princely states, governments were run in a non-democratic manner and the rulers were unwilling to give democratic rights to their populations.

Govt’s approach

  • The interim government took a firm stance against the possible division of India into small principalities of different sizes.
  • Sardar Patel played a historic role in negotiating with the rulers of princely states firmly but diplomatically and bringing most of them into the Indian Union.
  • But it was a very complicated task. For instance, there were 26 small states in today’s Orissa. Saurashtra region of Gujarat had 14 big states, 119 small states and numerous other different administrations.
  • The government’s approach was guided by three considerations.
    • Firstly, the people of most of the princely states clearly wanted to become part of the Indian union.
    • Secondly, the government was prepared to be flexible in giving autonomy to some regions. The idea was to accommodate plurality and adopt a flexible approach in dealing with the demands of the regions.
    • Thirdly, in the backdrop of Partition which brought into focus the contest over demarcation of territory, the integration and consolidation of the territorial boundaries of the nation had assumed supreme importance.
  • Before 15 August 1947, peaceful negotiations had brought almost all states whose territories were contiguous to the new boundaries of India, into the Indian Union.
  • The rulers of most of the states signed a document called the ‘Instrument of Accession’ which meant that their state agreed to become a part of the Union of India.
  • Accession of the Princely States of Junagadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Manipur proved more difficult than the rest.

Integration of Hyderabad

  • Hyderabad, the largest of the Princely States was surrounded entirely by Indian territory.
  • Some parts of the old Hyderabad state are today parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Its ruler carried the title, ‘Nizam’, and he wanted an independent status for Hyderabad.
  • He entered into what was called the Standstill Agreement with India in November 1947 for a year while negotiations with the Indian government were going on.
  • In the meantime, a movement of the people of Hyderabad State against the Nizam’s rule gathered force.
  • The peasantry in the Telangana region in particular, was the victim of Nizam’s oppressive rule and rose against him.
  • Women who had seen the worst of this oppression joined the movement in large numbers.
  • Hyderabad town was the nerve centre of this movement.
  • The Communists and the Hyderabad Congress were in the forefront of the movement.
  • The Nizam responded by unleashing a para-military force known as the Razakars on the people.
  • The atrocities and communal nature of the Razakars knew no bounds. They murdered, maimed, raped and looted, targeting particularly the non- Muslims.
  • The central government had to order the army to tackle the situation. In September 1948, Indian army moved in to control the Nizam’s forces.
  • After a few days of intermittent fighting, the Nizam surrendered. This led to Hyderabad’s accession to India.

 

Static – Modern History – Major Challenges Faced by India at Independence | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Challenges Faced by Independent India


Broadly, independent India faced three kinds of challenges.

DIVERSITY:

  • The first and the immediate challenge was to shape a nation that was united, yet accommodative of the diversity in our society.
  • At that time it was widely believed that a country full of diversity could not remain together for long.

DEMOCRACY:

  • The second challenge was to establish democracy. You have already studied the Indian Constitution.
  • The Constitution granted fundamental rights and extended the right to vote to every citizen.
  • A democratic constitution is necessary but not sufficient for establishing a democracy.
  • The challenge was to develop democratic practices in accordance with the Constitution.

DEVELOPMENT :

  • The third challenge was to ensure the development and wellbeing of the entire society and not only of some sections.
  • The real challenge was to evolve effective policies for economic development and eradication of poverty.

Process of Partition


  • ‘India’ was to be divided into two countries, ‘India’ and ‘Pakistan’. Such a division was not only very painful, but also very difficult to decide and to implement.
  • It was decided to follow the principle of religious majorities. This basically means that areas where the Muslims were in majority would make up the territory of Pakistan. The rest was to stay with India.
  • The idea might appear simple, but it presented all kinds of difficulties.
  • First of all, there was no single belt of Muslim majority areas in British India. There were two areas of concentration, one in the west and one in the east. There was no way these two parts could be joined. So it was decided that the new country, Pakistan, will comprise two territories, West and East Pakistan separated by a long expanse of Indian territory.
  • Secondly, not all Muslim majority areas wanted to be in Pakistan. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, the undisputed leader of the North Western Frontier Province and known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’, was staunchly opposed to the two-nation theory. Eventually, his voice was simply ignored and the NWFP was made to merge with Pakistan.
  • The third problem was that two of the Muslim majority provinces of British India, Punjab and Bengal, had very large areas where the non-Muslims were in majority. Eventually it was decided that these two provinces would be bifurcated according to the religious majority at the district or even lower level. This decision could not be made by the midnight of 14-15 August. It meant that a large number of people did not know on the day of Independence whether they were in India or in Pakistan.
  • The Partition of Punjab and Bengal caused the deepest trauma of Partition. This was related to the fourth and the most intractable of all the problems of partition. This was the problem of ‘minorities’ on both sides of the border.
  • Lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs in the areas that were now in Pakistan and an equally large number of Muslims on the Indian side of Punjab and Bengal (and to some extent Delhi and surrounding areas) found themselves trapped.
  • They were to discover that they were undesirable aliens in their own home, in the land where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries.
  • As soon as it became clear that the country was going to be partitioned, the minorities on both sides became easy targets of attack.

The Communal Holocaust


  • At the very outset the people and the government faced the gravest of crises. The great danger was that the atmosphere and the mentality generated by Partition and the riots might persist and strengthen communal tendencies in Indian politics.
  • But Indian nationalism was able to withstand the test. The situation was brought under control within a few months through decisive political and administrative measures. For example, during August–September, the back of communal violence in Delhi was broken by bringing the army on the streets and ordering the police to shoot at communal mobs indulging in looting and killing.
  • The government also succeeded in protecting the Muslim minority in the country , so that in the end 45 million Muslims chose to remain in India.
  • Communalism was thereby contained and weakened but not eliminated, for conditions were still favourable for its growth.
  • Nehru carried on a massive campaign against communalism to instil a sense of security in the minorities, through public speeches, radio broadcasts, speeches in parliament, private letters and epistles to chief ministers.
  • He even advocated a ban on political organizations based on religion and got the constitution amended to enable the government to impose ‘reasonable restrictions’ on the right to free speech and expression in order to curb communal speeches and writings.
  • A major setback to the communal forces occurred with Gandhiji’s martyrdom.

Rehabilitation of Refugees


  • The government had to stretch itself to the maximum to give relief to and resettle and rehabilitate the nearly six million refugees from Pakistan who had lost their all there and whose world had been turned upside down. The task took some time but it was accomplished.
  • By 1951, the problem of the rehabilitation of the refugees from West Pakistan had been fully tackled.
  • The task of rehabilitating and resettling refugees from East Bengal was made more difficult by the fact that the exodus of Hindus from East Bengal continued for years.
  • While nearly all the Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan had migrated in one go in 1947, a large number of Hindus in East Bengal had stayed on there in the initial years of 1947 and 1948.
  • But as communal riots broke out periodically in East Bengal, there was a steady stream of refugees from there year after year till 1971. Providing them with work and shelter and psychological assurance, therefore, became a continuous and hence a difficult task.
  • Unlike in Bengal, most of the refugees from west Punjab could occupy the large lands and property left by the Muslim migrants to Pakistan from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and could therefore be resettled on land. This was not the case in West Bengal.
  • Also because of linguistic affinity , it was easier for Punjabi and Sindhi refugees to settle in today ’s Himachal Pradesh and Haryana and western U.P., Rajasthan and Delhi.
  • The resettlement of the refugees from East Bengal could take place only in Bengal and to a lesser extent in Assam and Tripura.
  • As a result ‘a very large number of people who had been engaged in agricultural occupations before their displacement were forced to seek survival in semi-urban and urban contexts as the underclass’, and contributed to ‘the process of immiserisation’ of West Bengal.