The chapter introduces students to the challenges faced by Independent India. It outlines all the challenges of nation building. The chapter also highlights the problem and the demands of the princely states that they made before signing the instrument of accession.
The first few years in the life of Independent India were full of Challenges. Some of the most pressing ones concerned the national unity and territorial integrity of India. The story of Independence India began with the following challenges that were negotiated in the first decade after 1947.
Freedom came with partition, which resulted in large scale violence and displacement & challenged the very idea of Secular India.
The Integration Of Princely states into the Indian union.
To meet the aspirations of the people Internal Boundaries of the country needed to be drawn afresh.
Challenges for the New Nation
India gained independence at 12 a.m. on the 14th and 15th of August 1947. That evening, India's first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, addressed a special session of the Constituent Assembly. 'Tryst With Destiny,' a famous speech by J L Nehru This was the moment the Indians had been looking forward to.
Our national movement was marked by a diversity of voices. Almost everyone agreed on two goals:
First, that our country would be run democratically after independence
Second, that the government would run for the benefit of all people, especially the poor and socially disadvantaged.
The time came to fulfil the promise of liberty after the country had gained independence. Given India's difficult birth circumstances, it would be difficult. With the partition of the country came liberation.
The year 1947 was by unprecedented levels of violence and trauma as a result of displacement.
What were the challenges faced by independent India?
Three types of difficulties confronted independent India.
The first challenge was to create a nation that was both united and accepting of the diversity of our society. India was a diverse nation with a landmass the size of a continent. Its people spoke a wide range of languages and practised a wide range of cultures and religions.
Second, Establishing democracy was the major challenge to overcome. The Indian Constitution is something you already know how to do. The constitution guarantees fundamental rights and extends the right to vote to all citizens. India created a parliamentary-based representative democracy.
These characteristics guarantee that political competition takes place in a democratic environment. A democratic constitution is required, but it is not sufficient to establish democracy.
The goal was to establish democratic practices that were in accordance with the Constitution.
Third, the entire society, not just certain segments, needed to be developed and well-off. The Constitution, once again, enshrined the principle of equality and provided additional protection for socially disadvantaged groups, as well as religious and cultural groups. The Directive Principles of State Policy, which were established by the Constitution, set out the welfare goals that democratic politics must achieve. At this point, the real challenge was to come up with effective policies for economic development and poverty alleviation.
Rehabilitation And Displacement
The separate nation states of India & Pakistan were founded on August 14-15,1947. The territory was divided into two broader category of people; Hindus and Muslims, as per the two nation theory of Muslim League.
The All India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka on December 30,1906. The league demanded a seperate nation comprising of the muslim majority regions. Their demand and the two nation theory was rejected by the Congress.
There were several instances that led to the creation of Pakistan, like the political rivalry between the Congree and Muslim League.
The Process of Partition
It was mutually decided to divide the country into two different nations; India and Pakistan. The Process of partition was painful and challenging altogether. It was decided to adhere to the principle of religious majority.
It meant that Pakistan's territory would consist of Muslim dominated areas. The remaining was to be left with India.
Although the concept appeared straightforward, it was fraught with complications. There was no single belt of Muslim majority areas in British India. Two concentrated areas existed, one in the west and one in the east.
It was impossible to join these areas together. Pakistan was to be divided into two parts: West Pakistan and East Pakistan, separated by a large swath of Indian territory.
Second, not every region with a Muslim majority desired accession to Pakistan. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, also known as 'Frontier Gandhi,' was the undisputed leader of the North Western Frontier Province who was a staunch opponent of the two-nation theory.
Eventually, his voice was drowned out, and the NWFP was forced to merge with Pakistan. (Now a part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province)
A huge number of people remained in dilemma and didn't even know where they belonged in the provinces of Punjab and Bengal which dominated both of these communities; Hindus and Muslims. Eventually, it was decided to divide these two provinces based on religious majority at the district or even lower levels. This decision could not be made by the 14th or 15th of August at midnight.
As a result, a large number of people on Independence Day had no idea whether they were in India or Pakistan.
During the partition process, these two provinces suffered the most severe trauma. On both sides of the border minorities were a source of contention. Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were stranded in Pakistani areas, while an equal number of Muslims were stranded in India's Punjab and Bengal provinces (and, to a lesser extent, Delhi and its environs).
They were about to find out that they were unwanted foreigners in their own country, where they had lived with their forefathers for centuries.
Minorities on both sides became easy targets as soon as it became clear that the country would be partitioned. Nobody had anticipated the scope of the problem. Nobody was sure how they were going to deal with it.
The public and political leaders initially hoped that the violence would be brief and quickly brought under control. The violence, on the other hand, quickly became out of hand. On both sides of the border, minorities were forced to flee their homes in a matter of hours.
Consequences Of Partition
What were the consequences of partition?
One of the largest, most unexpected, and tragic population transfers in history occurred in 1947. Both sides committed assassinations and atrocities. Members of one community killed and maimed members of another in the name of religion.
'Communal zones' exist in cities such as Lahore, Amritsar, and Kolkata. Hindu and Sikh-dominated areas avoided Muslim-dominated areas.
Those who were forced to flee their homes and cross borders have suffered tremendously. Minorities fleeing both sides of the border frequently ended up in refugee camps. In their own country, they frequently encountered uncooperative local government and police.
They crossed the new border in a number of ways, the most common of which was on foot. Frequently, they were attacked, killed, or raped. Thousands of women have been kidnapped along the border.
Women were murdered by their own families for the sake of 'family honour,' and many children were separated from their parents. Those who crossed the border were rendered homeless and forced to live in refugee camps for years.
The ruthlessness of the killings, displacement, and violence has been depicted in Indian and Pakistani literature and cinema.
They frequently used the survivor's term "a division of hearts" to describe Partition's trauma. They frequently used the phrase "division of hearts," coined by survivors, to describe the trauma.
Politically and administratively, as well as in terms of property, liability, and asset division, the Partition divided the country. Personal property, such as tables and chairs, was divided in addition to the police band's instruments. Employees of the government and railways were also 'divided.'
It was a violent schism between communities that had previously coexisted peacefully. Between 5,000 and 10,000 people were killed as a result of partition-related violence. The Partition, however, caused more than just administrative and financial problems. The two-nation theory was rejected by leaders of India's national struggle.
Despite religious strife and mass Muslim migration to Pakistan, India's Muslim population in 1951 was only 13%. The Muslim League was a driving force for a Muslim state in colonial India, having been founded to protect Muslims' rights.
Hindus were similarly organised in order to make India a Hindu nation. On the other hand, the majority of national movement leaders believed that India should treat all religions equally and that no faith should be considered superior to another.
Everyone, regardless of religion, would be treated equally. Citizenship would not be determined by religious convictions. As a result, they admired the concept of a secular nation. This ideal was enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Integration Of Princely States
British India was divided into two divisions: the British Indian Provinces and the Princely States.
British Indian Provinces were directly administered by the British government. On the other hand, as long as they accepted British supremacy, the Princely States, a group of large and small states ruled by princes, retained some control over their internal affairs.
The supremacy or suzerainty of the British crown was referred to as paramountcy. Princely states occupied one-third of the British Indian Empire's land area, and one in every four Indians lived under the princely rule.
The British announced shortly before Independence that once their rule over India ended, the British crown's supremacy over the Princely States would end as well.
All 565 of these states gained legal independence as a result of this. All of these states were free to join either India or Pakistan, or to remain independent, according to the British government.
This decision was made by the princely rulers of these states, not the people. This was a major problem that jeopardised the existence of a united India. The problems began almost immediately. To begin with, the ruler of Travancore declared the state's independence.
The following day, the Nizam of Hyderabad made a similar announcement. The Nawab of Bhopal, for example, was adamant about not participating in the Constituent Assembly. Following Independence, India faced the very real possibility of being further divided into a number of small countries due to the reaction of the rulers of the Princely States.
In these countries, the prospects for democracy appeared to be similarly bleak. Given that the goal of Indian independence was to promote unity, self-determination, and democracy, this was an odd situation.
The Strategy of the Government
Sardar Patel played a critical role in the consolidation of princely states. He served as India's deputy prime minister and home minister at the time.
He was instrumental in negotiating with the rulers of princely states firmly but diplomatically and bringing the majority of them into the Indian Union. At this point, it may appear straightforward. It was, however, a difficult task that required deft persuasion. For example, in modern-day Orissa, there were 26 small states.
The Saurashtra region of Gujarat was divided into 14 large states, 119 small states, and a slew of other administrations.
These Three factors influenced the government's decision:
To begin, the majority of princely states' populations expressed a strong desire to join the Indian union.
Second, the government demonstrated a willingness to be flexible in granting autonomy to certain regions. The goal was to accommodate diversity and to be adaptable to regional demands.
Third, against the backdrop of Partition, which heightened the debate over territorial demarcation, the integration and consolidation of the nation's territorial boundaries had assumed paramount importance.
Prior to August 15, 1947, peaceful negotiations had united almost all of the states whose territories bordered India's new borders.
The rulers of the majority of states signed an 'Instrument of Accession,' indicating their state's agreement to join the Union of India. Joining was more difficult for the princely states of Junagadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Manipur than for the others.
Junagarh was resolved after a plebiscite confirmed the people's desire to join India.
Hyderabad, the largest of the Princely States, was completely encircled by Indian territory. Parts of the former Hyderabad state have been annexed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
Nizam was the ruler's title, and he was one of the wealthiest men in the world.
The Nizam was to grant Hyderabad independence. He entered the so-called Standstill Agreement with India in November 1947 for a year while negotiations with the Indian government continued.
Meanwhile, a popular revolt against the Nizam's rule grew in strength in Hyderabad State. Telangana's peasantry, in particular, suffered under Nizam's oppressive rule and rose up against him.
Additionally, a sizable number of women who had endured the most heinous forms of oppression joined the movement. Hyderabad was the epicentre of the movement. The Congress of Hyderabad and the Communist Party of India were at the forefront of the movement.
In retaliation, the Nizam dispatched the Razakars, a paramilitary force, to attack the populace.
Atrocities committed by the Razakars and their communal nature knew no bounds.
They specifically murdered, maimed, raped, and pillaged non-Muslims. The central government was forced to dispatch the army to deal with the situation. In September 1948, the Indian army arrived to seize control of the Nizam's forces. After a few days of intermittent fighting, the Nizam surrendered.
Hyderabad became a part of India as a result.
A few days before independence, the instrument of accession was signed between Maharaja of Manipur Bodhachandra Singh and the Indian government, the Maharaja of Manipur, pledging to maintain Manipur's internal autonomy. In June 1948, the Maharaja held elections in Manipur in response to public pressure, establishing the state as a constitutional monarchy.
Thus, Manipur became the first state in India to hold an election with a universal adult franchise.
In Manipur's Legislative Assembly, there were bitter disagreements over the state's merger with India. While the state legislature was in favour of the merger, other political parties were opposed.
In September 1949, the Government of India succeeded in pressuring the Maharaja into signing a Merger Agreement without consulting the popularly elected Legislative Assembly of Manipur.
This sparked outrage and resentment throughout Manipur.
The major task was to define the internal borders of the Indian states. There were no administrative silos in this case. The boundaries had to be drawn in a way that reflected the country's linguistic and cultural diversity without jeopardising the country's unity.
State boundaries were drawn during colonial rule for administrative purposes or to coincide with British-annexed or princely-ruled territories.
Our national movement had promised to use the linguistic principle as the basis for state formation, rejecting these artificial divisions.
Following the Nagpur session of Congress in 1920, the principle was recognised as the foundation for the reorganisation of the Indian National Congress party. Language zones that did not follow British India's administrative divisions formed a slew of Provincial Congress Committees.
Things changed after Independence and Partition. Our forefathers believed that dividing states based on their languages would cause chaos and disintegration.
It was also thought that this would draw attention away from the country's other social and economic problems. Deferring action was the central leadership's decision.
The need for the postponement was also felt because the Princely States' fate remained uncertain.
The populace and local leaders posed a challenge to national leadership. The Telugu-speaking areas of the old Madras province, which included modern-day Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka, were the first to protest.
The Vishal Andhra Movement
The Vishalandhra movement demanded that the Telugu-speaking areas must be separated from the Madras province in which they were included and formed into a separate Andhra province.
The movement gained traction as a result of the central government's vacillation:
Potti Sriramulu, a veteran Gandhian and Congress leader, began an indefinite fast, which lasted 56 days and ended in his death. In Andhra Pradesh, this resulted in widespread unrest and violent outbursts.
A large number of people took to the streets to protest. Several people have been injured or killed as a result of police shootings.
The formation of a separate Andhra state was announced by the Prime Minister in December 1952. (The first state established on the basis of linguistic principles)
The formation of Andhra Pradesh sparked a fight in other parts of the country for the formation of linguistically distinct states. The Central Government was forced to establish a States Reorganisation Commission in 1953 to study the issue of redrawing state boundaries as a result of these conflicts.
In its report, the Commission stated that the state's boundaries should correspond to the boundaries of various languages. In response to the report, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 was passed.
As a result, fourteen states and six union territories were established.
One of the main concerns in the early years was that demands for separate states would endanger the country's unity. Language states were thought to encourage separatism and exert pressure on the newly formed nation.
The leadership, however, ultimately chose linguistic states due to popular pressure. The threat of division and separatism was hoped to be reduced by accepting all regions' regional and linguistic claims.
Furthermore, meeting regional demands and establishing linguistic states were seen as more democratic.