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.
- 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.