Unifying post-partition India and princely states under one administration was perhaps the most important task facing the political leadership. Explain. 10 marks

Mentor’s comment-

  • In the introduction you can brief upon the condition of the India at the time of independence.
  • In the body you can discuss why integration was the need of the hour. Explain the significance of unification of the country – Territorial continuity, Demand for modernization, Internal Security etc. Discuss the contributions of various political leaders and thus the importance therefore.
  • Conclude with significance of single continuous territory and reassert the key role played by the political leaders then.                    Answer–                                                                        Introduction: The post-independence period was marred with violence and displacement followed by the partition, the issue of integration of the princely states and re-drawal of internal boundaries based on languages were some of the immediate challenges faced by India post-independence. To maintain the democratic aspirations of the newly formed nation state, the government took several steps.
    Challenges to the unification and integration of India:
     Accommodating the diversity of Indian society by taking into account the regional aspirations of the people, balancing between the rights of different regions and linguistic groups to retain their own culture.
     Formation of the states 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. E.g.- the Vishalandhra movement caused great unrest and violence in the Telugu-speaking region.
     Ethnic tension in North Eastern states: Over 635 tribal groups in the region with distinct language and culture along with its relative isolation from the rest of the mainland, resulted into social-political disturbances and unrest for a few years.
     The isolation of the region, its complex social character and its backwardness compared to other parts of the country have all resulted in the complicated set of demands from different states of the North-East.
     The vast international border and weak communication between the North-East and the rest of India further added to the delicate nature of politics there. First Nagaland and then Mizoram
    witnessed strong movements demanding separation from India.
     Developing democratic practices in accordance with the Constitution by ensuring the development and well-being of the entire society and not only of some sections.
     Partition had deepened the communal tension in the country and it was important to assure the minority communities of their equal protection of rights to avoid further communal divisions
    within the nation.
     The discontent among these communities could destabilise the newly formed political system.
     Integration of as many as 565 Princely states after independence. These states became legally independent and were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent. However, this decision was left not to the people but to the princely rulers of these states.
     The integration of these states was important for the unification of the country.
    Measures taken:
     Under the State Reorganisation Act 1956, states were divided based on the linguistic and cultural differences between them. This ensured the united social life without losing the distinctiveness of the numerous cultures that constituted it.
     The cooperative federalism enshrined in the constitution (Schedule VII) empowered the regional identity, aspirations and provided autonomy to the states to solve their specific regional
    problems.
     At different points of time the Central Government created Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh out of Assam. Tripura and Manipur were upgraded into States too.
     Autonomous Councils were created to satisfy the smaller groups within the states without breaking the states down.
     Constitutional safeguards for marginalised and minorities: The adoption of the constitution of India highlighted the country’s strong beliefs in equality, liberty and secularism (reflected
    especially in the Fundamental Rights), assuring the marginalised sections of equality and justice.
     Articles 29 and 30 specifically protect the cultural and linguistic rights of the minorities.                                                                       The leaders of independent India, especially Sardar Patel, negotiated with the rulers of princely states firmly but diplomatically bringing most of them into the Indian Union through the instrument of accession.
    Conclusion:
    The newly formed democracy in India came to terms with differences in society on several different lines and accepted the plurality of ideas and diverse ways of life. The challenges are still posed by the differences in the contemporary socio-political system of the country. These are reflected in continuing communal tension and intolerance towards the minorities and marginalised and also
    imperative in statehood demands.
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