Reorganization of States in India

Reorganization of States in India

During Independence, India was composed of two main types of political entities: the British Provinces, which were directly governed by the British Government, and the Princely States, which were ruled by native princes but were ultimately subject to the authority of the British Crown.

Following the enactment of the Indian Independence Act in 1947, India and Pakistan emerged as independent dominions. This legislation provided the princely states with three options: to join either the Indian Dominion, the Pakistan Dominion, or to remain independent.

Out of a total of 552 princely states, 549 chose to join India. However, Hyderabad, Junagarh, and Kashmir initially refused to accede. Through subsequent actions such as Police Action, Referendum, and the Instrument of Accession, these territories were gradually integrated into India.

In 1950, the Indian Constitution came into effect, organizing the constituent units of the Indian Union into four distinct categories:

  1. Part A States: These comprised the former British Provinces and were administered by elected Governors and State Legislatures. Examples included Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Orissa, Punjab, United Provinces, and West Bengal.
  2. Part B States: Former Princely States or groups of states, with administrators known as Rajpramukhs, who were former princes. This category included Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mysore, Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Travancore Cochin, and Vindhya Pradesh.
  3. Part C States: Consisting of a combination of former Princely States and Provinces, administered by Chief Commissioners. The states included Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Cooch-Behar, Coorg, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kutch, Manipur, and Tripura.
  4. Part D States: This category encompassed Union Territories, with administration overseen by Governors appointed by the Indian President. The sole territory included was the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The existing state borders were deemed unsuitable for efficient administration, stemming from political, military, and strategic considerations during British rule. Consequently, there arose a necessity for the reorganization of state borders, with language proposed as a more suitable basis, aiming to replace caste and religion-based identities with linguistic ones.

The Indian National Congress had advocated for linguistic reorganization since the 1920s. However, post-Independence, the Congress-led government expressed concerns about its potential to undermine national unity.

The Dhar Commission, established in 1948, examined the feasibility of linguistic provinces but ultimately recommended against them, citing administrative convenience as a primary concern.

In 1948, the JVP Committee, comprising prominent leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Pattabhi Sitaramayya, rejected language as the basis for state reorganization.

The first linguistic state, Andhra Pradesh, was established in 1953 by the Government of India, following popular agitation and the tragic death of Potti Sriramulu after a 56-day hunger strike.

To address escalating demands for linguistic-based states, the Government of India appointed the Fazl Ali Commission in December 1953. This three-member commission, led by Fazl Ali and including K.M. Panikkar and H.N. Kunzru recommended language as a basis for state reorganization, with due consideration for national unity and other factors.

The Commission suggested the abolition of the four-fold classification of states and proposed the creation of 16 states and 3 centrally administered territories. This recommendation was accepted by the government, leading to the establishment of 14 states and 6 union territories on November 1, 1956.

The newly created states included Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. The union territories comprised Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Laccadive, Manipur, and Tripura.

New States and Union Territories

Following the initial reorganization in 1956, further creation of states based on language or cultural homogeneity led to the bifurcation of existing states and the establishment of new territories:

Maharashtra and Gujarat:

  1. In 1960, the state of Bombay was divided into Maharashtra for Marathi speakers and Gujarat for Gujarati speakers.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli:

  1. Through the 10th Constitutional Amendment Act, it was converted into a Union Territory.

Goa, Daman, and Diu:

  1. The 12th Constitutional Amendment Act constituted them as a Union Territory, but Goa attained statehood in 1987.

Puducherry:

  1. By the 14th Constitutional Amendment Act in 1962, it was made a Union Territory.

Haryana, Chandigarh, and Himachal Pradesh:

  1. Punjab was divided in 1966, resulting in the creation of Haryana as a state and Chandigarh as a Union Territory. Himachal Pradesh attained statehood in 1971.

Manipur, Tripura, and Meghalaya:

  1. In 1972, these three territories were granted statehood.

Sikkim:

  1. The 36th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1975 granted Sikkim full statehood and introduced Article 371-F to provide special provisions for its administration.

Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand:

  1. In 2000, these states were created from territories previously part of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, respectively.

Telangana:

  1. According to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh, with Hyderabad as the joint capital for both states.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation:

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019 divided the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (DNHDD):

This newly formed Union Territory in western India resulted from the merger of the former Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The merger was announced by the Indian Government in July 2019 and enacted through legislation passed by the Parliament in December 2019. It officially came into effect on January 26, 2020. The territory consists of four distinct geographical entities: Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman, and the island of Diu, all of which were previously under Portuguese administration before coming under Indian control in the mid-20th century.

Presently, India comprises 28 States and 8 Union Territories.

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