History of India

Administrative History of the Republic of India

The Administrative Structure, 1947-1952 . Upon independence, the Dominion of India (since 1950 Republic of India) inherited an administrative structure from the British. India's territory, disregarding emerging Pakistan, may be divided in three categories :
(a) territory which used to be under direct rule and, since 1935, had self-government : United Provinces/Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, (West) Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Madras, Mysore, Bombay, (East) Punjab; of these, Bengal, Assam and the Punjab had been severely affected by the partition of 1947-1948. These units from 1947 formed provinces of the Dominion of India, from 1950 states of the Republic of India.
(b) territory which used to be under indirect rule (princely states), and which in 1947 were expected to opt for either India or Pakistan and to be integrated into either. When the Ruler of Junagadh (Kathiawar, present Gujarat) opted for Pakistan, he was ousted by his state's Hindu population and Junagadh joined India. When the (Muslim) ruler of Hyderabad resented integration into India and envisioned full independence instead, the Indian army invaded (1948). Within the Dominion of India, the federation of principalities was promoted. The princely states within the East Punjab formed PEPSU (1948). A process going through several stages in 1949 resulted in the formation of the Union / United State of Rajasthan (Greater Rajasthan) in 1949. Travancore and Cochin were merged into the province of Travancore-Cochin in 1949 etc. Larger states, such as Hyderabad and Jammu & Kashmir (i.e. the parts of it under Indian administration) were treated as indidual entitities.
(c) territory which the British treated as tribal areas and had limited tradition of a self-government recognized by the British, The NEFA (North East Frontier Agency), Mizoram, Nagaland, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Laccadive Islands were treated as such, and continued to be treated as union territories.

This administrative structure reflected India's feudal and colonial history. Among India's 500+ princely states, there were a few large, contiguous ones, such as Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore and Jammu & Kashmir, but also tiny ones, often continuing of several patches of territory, such as Jind and Nabha (PEPSU). Some princely states contained several population groups distinct by their respective language, in case of Hyderabad Telugu, Marathi and Kannada. It was not unusual for the ruler to adhere to a minority faith (in Hyderabad and Junagadh, until ousted, Muslim rulers governed a Hindu-majority population; in Jammu & Kashmir a Hindu ruler governed a Muslim-majority population).
The territory which used to be under direct British administration reflected the historical interests of the British colonial masters. At first there had been three presidencies, centered on the cities of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta (port cities/fortresses, not by coincidence). During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bengal Presidency (capital Calcutta) was partitioned by the creation of the provinces of Punjab, the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Assam, Bihar and Orissa; Sindh was split off Bombay. Yet the provinces the Dominion / Republic of India inherited from the British, in a number of cases, resembled a Swiss cheese, surrounding princely states, in other cases formed patches of territory surrounded by a number of princely states. The population of Madras Province/State was composed of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada-speaking elements; that of the province of Bombay of Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati speaking elements.

The political landscape of India was complicated even further by a number of tiny territories forming part of either French India or Portuguese India, entities which the Indian government regarded unwanted remnants of colonialism. In 1951 the French enclave of Chandernagar was annexed by India and integrated into West Bengal. The Portuguese enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli were annexed in 1954, but not integrated into Bombay State, instead administrated as union territory.

Transition into Nation States . In 1953, Andhra State was separated from Madras State; Andhra State was formed as the state of the Telugu-speaking people. In 1956, the map of India underwent a major revision. Kerala State was formed by annexing the Malayalam-speaking areas of Madras State into Travancore-Cochin; Mysore State (modern Karnataka) annexed the Kannada-speaking areas of Madras State, Bombay State, all of Coorg and the Kannada-speaking areas of Hyderabad.
In 1960, Bombay State was partitioned into Maharashtra (including the Marathi-speaking areas of Hyderabad, annexed in 1956) and into Gujarat. In 1966, (East) Punjab was partitioned into Punjab and (Hindi-speaking) Haryana. In 1973, Meghalaya was carved out of Assam.
In this process, some nation states emerged as leftovers of larger, multiethnic political entities, as it was in the case of Madras State, in 1969 renamed Tamil Nadu, the state of the Tamils, which does not include Tamil-speaking Pondicherry and Karikal (former French India, annexed by India in 1954 and treated as union territory). As late as 2000, three new states were formed, Jharkhand carved out of Bihar, Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand separated from Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh separated from Madhya Pradesh.

Federal and State Government . In India's states, governments are often formed as coalition governments; these coalitions often do not last through an entire legislative period. Governments also often suffer from the defection of individual or groups of lawmakers. Thus, the position of chief minister frequently changes hands. Frequently the situation occurs where a state does not have a functioning majority; in such a situation president's rule is introduced, often in form of a caretaker government until new elections are held and a new elected government is formed.
Occasionally, the federal administration ousts a state government which violated the federal constitution, and imposes president's rule, so in the (East) Punjab 1983-1985 and 1987-1992, when the state saw a high degree of violence, and in 1992 in Uttar Pradesh in consequence of the demolition of the Babri Mosque by a Hindu mob.

India Today . The establishment of a series of states the vast majority of the population of which shares a common first language has greatly contributed to the functionality of democratic India. 17 out of 28 states have a population ranging from 20 to 166 million - (2001 census : UP 166m, Maharashtra 96m, Bihar 82m, West Bengal 80m, Andhra Pradesh 75m, Tamil Nadu 62m, Madhya Pradesh 60m, Rajasthan 56m, Karnataka 52m, Gujarat 50m, Orissa 36m, Kerala 31m, Jharkhand 26m, Assam 26m, (East) Punjab 24m, Haryana 21m, Chhattisgarh 20m); 11 a population below 11 million (Jammu & Kashmir 10m, Uttaranchal 8m, Himachal Pradesh 6m, Tripura 3m, Manipur 2m, Meghalaya 2m, Nagaland just under 2m, Goa 1m, Arunachal Pradesh 1m, Mizoram and Sikkim below 1m). The remaining union territories (Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry) have a population of less than 1m each; the territory of the national capital Delhi 13m.

Problems with the Present Administrative Structure . (a) union territories. Goa may be regarded as a successful example of integrating a union territory; in 1987 Goa was granted the status of a state, and subsequently developed into one of India's more prosperous states. On the other hand, the Nagas and Mizos have long resisted Indian administration, the states of Nagaland (1963) and Mizoram (1987) having been created in defiance of Indian administration. The Bodo, within Assam, are engaged in a low-scale rebellion.
(b) ethnic minorities within nation states. The Nepali-speaking population in the northern region of West Bengal long felt discriminated against and campaigned for a separate state, and in 1988 settled for an autonomous Gorkhaland within West Bengal.
(c) disputed territory. When Andhra State was separated from Madras State as India's first new nation state in 1953, the status of the city of Madras (with a population composed of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada-speakers, and surrounded by territory with a Tamil-speaking population) was hotly contested.
When Haryana was separated from (East) Punjab in consequence of the Punjab Suba campaign in 1966, the capital of Chandigarh, only founded in consequence of the partition of 1947 (which left the traditional provincial capital of Lahore on Pakistan territory), was not allocated to either. The Akali Dal ever since 1966 campaigned for the allocation of Chandigarh to (East) Punjab, an allocation which in an 1985 agreement was promised if the Punjab would cede a number of Hindi-speaking villages to Haryana. The agreement still has to be implemented; Chandigarh still is union territory, and the capital of both (East) Punjab and Haryana.
(d) religious issues. The Dominion of India / Republic of India was established as a secular state, in a country with a tradition of coexisting religious communities, with just over 80 % of the population adhering to Hinduism and over 13 % adhering to Islam. Within the (East) Punjab, Sikh radicals in the 1980es have campaignd for a Sikh state of Khalistan. The Punjab saw violence, which culminated in Operation Bluestar (1984) and the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi by Sikhs later that year. From 1983 to 1985 and again from 1987 to 1992, the (East) Punjab was under president's rule.
India's Muslim community, spread over the entire subcontinent, and episodically exposed to mob violence on a local level, has reason to be concerned about their safety. The demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya (Oudh) in 1992 by a Hindu mob sparked riots countrywide, most notably the Bombay riots of 1992-1993.
(e) discontent with the new administration. In Telangana (the Telugu-speaking areas of former Hyderabad, annexed into Andhra Pradesh in 1956, the perception that inhabitants of Telangana were discriminated against when it came to the filling of positions in local and state administration resulted in the campaign for a Telangana indigenate (1969) and even for a separate state of Telangana. Similarily, the population of Vidarbha (the Marathi-speaking areas of former Hyderabad, since 1960 part of Maharashtra), protested against discrimination, some seeking for separate statehood.
(f) the integration of refugee population. In Assam, the Bengali-speaking immigrant population has campaigned for the recognition of Bengali as additional official language; instead a part of the Bengali-speaking immigrant population has been disenfranchised and given the status of foreigners.
(g) the issue of social statification and poverty. The Naxalite movement, pro-Cultural Revolution Communists, since 1966 are engaged in a low-scale rebellion which began in West Bengal, and spread into Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh etc. The Naxalites aim at establishing liberated areas, but so far pose a only a marginal threat to the political system.

States of India, from www.statoids.com
Article States and Territories of India, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : India, by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : India, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 23rd 2002, last revised on May 20th 2007

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