A New and Divided Nation
• India gained independence in August 1947. Partition had sent 8 million refugees into nation from what is now Pakistan. princely states’ dilemma was that they were each ruled by a maharaja or a nawab, who had to be persuaded to join new nation.
• India’s population was massive in 1947 and it was split between high and low castes, dominant Hindu group and Indians of other faiths. citizens of India spoke different languages, wore different kinds of dresses, ate different kinds of food and practised different professions.
• bulk of Indians lived in villages at time of independence. Farmers and peasants, as well as non-farm sector of rural economy, relied on monsoon for existence. Factory workers in cities lived in overcrowded slums with little access to education and health care.
A Constitution is Written
• Three hundred Indians met in a series of meetings on country’s political destiny between December 1946 and November 1949. New Delhi hosted these ‘Constituent Assembly’ gatherings. Indian Constitution was drafted as a result of these negotiations and it went into effect on January 26, 1950.
• establishment of universal adult franchise was one of Constitution’s features. In state and national elections, all Indians over age of 21 will be entitled to vote. On other hand, India elected to extend this right to all of its citizens shortly after independence, regardless of gender, class, or education. Constitution’s second element ensured that all citizens, regardless of caste or religious affiliation, were treated equally before law.
• Sikhs, Christians, Parsis & Jains all had significant numbers in India. They will enjoy same rights as Hindus under new Constitution, including same opportunity to work in government or commercial sector and equal protection under law.
• Constitution’s third feature provided specific benefits to poorest and most disadvantaged Indians.
• Constituent Assembly debated powers of Federal Government vs State Governments for many days. Constitution balanced these competing claims by establishing three lists of subjects: a Union List, which includes subjects such as taxes, defence & foreign affairs and is solely responsibility of Centre; a State List, which includes subjects such as education and health and is primarily responsibility of States; and a Concurrent List, which includes subjects such as forests and agriculture and is jointly responsible by Centre and States.
• Another major point of contention was use of terminology. Many members believed that English should be phased out of India and Hindi should take its place. Finally, a compromise was reached: Hindi would be ‘official language’ of India, while English would be used in courts, services & InterState Communications.
• Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of Drafting Committee, drafted Indian Constitution. Dr Ambedkar stressed in his final speech that political democracy must be complemented by economic and social democracy. India was about to embark on a life of contradictions with new Constitution.
How were States to be Formed?
• Back in 1920s, Indian National Congress – main party of freedom struggle – had promised that once country won independence, each major linguistic group would have its own province. However, after independence Congress did not take any steps to honour this promise. For India had been divided on basis of religion: despite wishes and efforts of Mahatma Gandhi, freedom had come not to one nation but to two.
• Kannada speakers, Malayalam speakers and Marathi speakers all desired separate states. Telugu-speaking districts of Madras Presidency were epicentre of protests. Potti Sriramulu embarked on a hunger strike to seek creation of an Andhra State to preserve Telugu speakers’ interests.
• Potti Sriramulu died on December 15, 1952. new state of Andhra, which later became Andhra Pradesh, was established on October 1, 1953.
• A States Reorganisation Commission was established and its report was delivered in 1956, recommending that district and provincial boundaries be redrawn to produce compact provinces of Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada & Telugu languages. Several states were formed from big Hindi-speaking region.
• Bombay was separated into two states in 1960, one for Marathi speakers and other for Gujarati people. Punjab was partitioned into two states in 1966: Punjab and Haryana.
Planning for Development
• government established a Planning Commission in 1950 to formulate and implement appropriate economic development programmes. state and private sector would both play major and complementary roles in expanding production and creating jobs in a mixed economy paradigm.
• Planning Commission’s job is to figure out which industries should be started by government and which should be started by market, as well as how to strike a balance between various regions and states.
• In 1956, Second Five-Year Plan was formulated, which focused strongly on development of heavy industries such as steel and on building of large dams. These sectors would be under control of State. Some people criticized this approach stating that it had put inadequate emphasis on agriculture. Others argued that it had neglected primary education.
Nation, Sixty Years On
• On August 15, 2007, India commemorated its sixtyfifth year as a free country. India is still a democratic and united country. Several foreign observers believed that India could not exist as a unified country and that it would disintegrate into many sections, with each area or linguistic group attempting to become its own nation. Some speculated that it would be ruled by military.
• Despite constitutional protections, depressed class continue to experience violence and prejudice in rural India. Despite secular objectives stated in Constitution, battles between religious organisations have occurred in numerous states.
• gap between rich and poor has widened over time. Economic development has helped some sections of India and certain segments of Indians significantly. Many others, on other hand, continue to live in poverty.
• Although, Constitution recognises equality under law, certain Indians are more equal than others in reality. Republic of India has not been a big success by standards it set for itself at independence. It hasn’t, however, been a complete failure.