CHALLENGES OF NATION BUILDING
**Three challenges that India faced after independence:
*To build a nation: The biggest challenge before India after independence was how to accommodate people of different religion, caste, language and culture as a nation in a country which had continental size and diversity.
*To establish democracy: Another challenge was how to develop and strengthen democratic practices based on the universal adult franchise as India didn’t have the tradition of democratic rule, mass illiteracy and poverty. A democratic constitution was not enough to establish real democracy.
*Development and well being: Perhaps the biggest task before India was to ensure the development and well being of the entire society as a large majority of people were poor, illiterate and disadvantaged. The constitution of India laid down sufficient safeguards in the form of Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy to protect and enhance the interests of these groups.
*Process of partition: India was partitioned on the basis of a principle of religious majorities which was the culmination of `two-nation theory ‘put forward by Muslim League. This theory claimed that India consisted of two distinct people Hindus and Muslims and demanded a separate state Pakistan for the Muslims.
*This idea of partition presented several difficulties:
*First there was no single belt of Muslim majority area in British India. The two areas of Muslim concentration in west Punjab and East Bengal were separated from each other by a long expanse of Indian Territory and could not be joined together.
*Secondly not all Muslim majority areas wanted to join Pakistan. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, the leader of the people of NWFP and also known as the Frontier Gandhi, was strongly opposed to the two-nation theory.
*Third, the two areas of Muslim concentration also contained the large number of non-Muslims whose fate could not be decided which created the problem of minorities on both sides.
**Consequences of partition:
*Violence: Partition brought untold miseries for the minorities on both the sides of the border. In the name of religion, five to ten lakh people belonging to the minority communities were killed and maimed. Women became the worst victim of rape, abduction and honour killing.
*Tragic transfer of population: Partition was marked by one of the most unplanned and tragic transfers of the population across the border. About eight million minorities on both the sides of the border fled their homes and took shelter in refugee camps. Some of them travelled to another side of the new border by all sorts of means, even by foot.
*Division of assets and liabilities: Partition was not just the political division of the country; it also divided the administrative apparatus, police, armed forces, constituent assembly, financial assets and liabilities and above all it was the violent separation of communities.
*Deep communal divide: Partition created a deep-rooted communal divide between the majority and the minority communities in both countries. It didn’t solve the problem of communalism, rather aggravated this problem.
**Integration of princely states: One of the biggest challenges before the Indian nation after independence was the integration of hundreds of princely states. With the end of British paramountcy or suzerainty over India, about 565 princely states who were not under the direct British rule had the freedom to join India or Pakistan or remain independent. Some of them decided to remain independent. This left with the possibilities that India would get further divided into a number of small countries.
*Government’s approach: The interim government of India took a firm stand against any possible division of the country. Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India started negotiation with the rulers of princely states and persuaded most of them to join India.
*He was of the view that people of most of these states clearly wanted to become part of India. He didn’t even hesitate in using force against those who refused to sign over the `Instrument of Accession’
*The government was also ready to be flexible in giving autonomy to some regions to accommodate diversity and regional aspiration.
*For the government, integration and consolidation of territorial boundaries of India had assumed supreme importance.
**Integration of Hyderabad: Hyderabad was one of the princely states whose ruler Nizam wanted independent status for his kingdom.
*He signed the Standstill Agreement with the government of India in November 1947 for a year while negotiation with the government was going on.
*In the meantime a people’s movement gathered momentum against the oppressive rule of Nizam.
*The Nizam tried to suppress the movement by using its para-military force `Razakars’ who committed extreme brutalities on the people.
*Ultimately the Indian Government had to order for army action in September 1948. Within a few days, Nizam surrendered and signed over the Instrument of Accession.
**Integration of Manipur: The ruler of Manipur Bodhchandra Singh signed the `Instrument of Accession’ with the condition that the internal autonomy of the state would be maintained.
*Under the pressure of public opinion, he also held elections based on a universal adult franchise in 1948 and agreed to remain a constitutional monarchy.
* In the newly elected assembly of Manipur there were sharp differences among the political parties over the merger of the state with India.
*In September 1949, the government of India forced the Maharaja to sign the Merger Agreement without consulting the elected Assembly. This caused a lot of anger and resentment among the people of Manipur.
**Reorganization of states: Integration of princely states with India was not the end of the nation-building process. There were demands from different parts of the country to reorganize the state boundaries to reflect the linguistic and cultural plurality.
*In its Nagpur session in 1920 Congress had recognized the linguistic principle as the basis of formation of states. But after independence, many of our leaders felt that linguistic states might lead to the disintegration of the country.
*In the meantime demand for a separate state in the Telugu speaking areas of old Madras province got momentum and after the death of Potti Sriramulu after 56 days of fast, the government had to announce the formation of Andhra Pradesh in December 1952.
*Formation of Andhra Pradesh spurred the struggle for making other states on linguistic lines. The Government of India appointed a State Reorganization Commission in 1953 which also recommended that the boundaries of the states should reflect the boundaries of different languages.
*Finally the government passed the State Reorganization Act in 1956. This led to the creation of 14 states and six union territories.
**Impact of linguistic states on democratic politics in India:* Contrary to the fears raised against the linguistic states, these states have stood over the test of the time and have strengthened the national unity and federal system in India.
*These states and such movements have changed the nature of democratic politics and leadership in India in many ways:
*The path to politics and power was now open to people other than the small English speaking elite.
*Linguistic reorganization has also given some uniform basis for drawing of state boundaries.
*Above all the linguistic states underlined the acceptance of the principle of diversity and thus are considered more democratic.