Post-Independence Consolidation and Reorganization within the Country

Partition and its aftermath

The relationship between state formation and population displacement emerges clearly in South Asia, where Partition created two new states, India and Pakistan in 1947 and where Bangladesh arose out of the carnage of war in 1971. Partition took place without external intervention, whereas India leant its support to the secession of Bangladesh. The causal connection between states and refugees does not run in one direction, since refugees helped to constitute the state by virtue of being the focal point for ‘rehabilitation’, economic development and the ‘recovery’ of abducted women. Refugees in turn were expected to demonstrate a commitment to the state. 

Partition: Displacement and Rehabilitation

On 14-15 August 1947, two nation-states came into existence – India and Pakistan, as a result of ‘partition’. According to the ‘two-nation theory’ given by the Muslim League, India consisted of two ‘people’, Hindus and Muslims. That is why it demanded Pakistan, a separate country for the Muslims. The principle followed for partition was of religious majorities. This basically means that areas where the Muslims were in majority would become Pakistan. The rest was to stay in India. The difficulties that followed the process of partition:

  1. Since there were two areas of Muslim concentration, in the west and east, it was decided that Pakistan will comprise of West and East Pakistan separated by an expanse of Indian territory.
  2. Secondly, not all Muslim majority areas wanted to be in Pakistan. The North Western Frontier Province was made to merge with Pakistan even though it’s leader, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan,  was against the two-nation theory.
  3. The third problem was that Punjab and Bengal, had very large areas where the non-Muslims were in majority. Eventually it was decided that these two provinces would be divided according to the religious majority at the district or even lower level.
  4. The fourth problem was the problem of ‘minorities’ on both sides or the border.  Lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs were now in Pakistan and an equally large number of Muslims were in Indian side of Punjab and Bengal. The minorities on both sides became easy targets of attack.

Consequences Of Partition

  1. The year 1947 was the year of one of the largest, unplanned and tragic transfer of population that human history has known.
  2. In the name of religion there were killings on both sides of the border. 
  3. People were forced to leave their homes and move across borders. Minorities on both sides of the border secured temporary shelter in ‘refuge camps’.
  4. Minorities traveled to the other side of the new border by all sorts of mean, often by foot. Even during this journey, they were often attacked, killed or raped. 
  5. Thousands of women were abducted on both sides of the border. They were forced to convert to their religion and were forced into marriage. Many children were separated from their parents.
  6. For lakhs of these ‘refugees’ the country’s freedom meant life in ‘refugee camps’, for months and sometimes for years.
  7. Writers, poets and film-makers in India and Pakistan have expressed the ruthlessness of the killings and the suffering of displacement and violence in their novels, short-stories, poems and films. 
  8. There was also a division of financial assets, and things like tables, chairs, typewriters, paper-clips, books. The employees of the government and the railways were also ‘divided’.
  9. Above all, it was a violent separation of communities who had lived together for generations and as neighbors. About 80 lakh people were displaced and between 10-15  lakh people were killed due to partition related violence.


Pakistan – its eastern and western wings separated by around 1,700 kilometres of Indian territory – celebrated independence on August 14, 1947; India did so the following day. The new borders, which split the key provinces of the Punjab and Bengal in two, were officially approved on August 17. They had been drawn up by a Boundary Commission, led by British lawyer Cyril Radcliffe, who later admitted that he had relied on out-of-date maps and census materials.

Partition triggered riots, mass casualties, and a colossal wave of migration. Millions of people moved to what they hoped would be safer territory, with Muslims heading towards Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs in the direction of India. As many as 14-16m people may have been eventually displaced, travelling on foot, in bullock carts and by train.

Estimates of the death toll post-Partition range from 200,000 to two million. Many were killed by members of other communities and sometimes their own families, as well as by the contagious diseases which swept through refugee camps. Women were often targeted as symbols of community honour, with up to 100,000 raped or abducted.

Many of the people concerned were very deeply attached not just to religious identity, but to territory, and Britain was reluctant to use its troops to maintain law and order. The situation was especially dangerous in Punjab, where weapons and demobilised soldiers were abundant.

Another unforeseen consequence of Partition was that Pakistan’s population ended up more religiously homogeneous than originally anticipated. The Muslim League’s leaders had assumed that Pakistan would contain a sizeable non-Muslim population, whose presence would safeguard the position of Muslims remaining in India – but in West Pakistan, non-Muslim minorities comprised only 1.6% of the population by 1951, compared with 22% in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

And even though Pakistan was ostensibly created as a “homeland” for India’s Muslim minority, not all Muslims even supported its formation, never mind migrated there: Muslims remained the largest minority group in independent India, making up around 10% of the population in 1951. Gandhi himself was assassinated in January 1948 by a Hindu nationalist extremist who blamed him for being too supportive of Muslims at the time of Partition.

Both states subsequently faced huge problems accommodating and rehabilitating post-Partition refugees, whose numbers swelled when the two states went to war over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947-8. Later bouts of communal tension generated further movement, with a trickle of people still migrating as late as the 1960s.

Integration of Princely States

In the 1940s, the British Government implemented its Attachment Scheme in Kathiawar by which many small estates lost their separate status and were merged into a larger neighbouring princely state. Thus many minor rulers now found themselves reduced to the status of mere landlords.

The Quit India movement of 1942 also had its impact on the states. It contributed to increased levels of political awareness. Princely administrations had to actively assist the British Indian authorities to deal with the Congress, though in a state like Aundh, nationalists found an easy refuge from the imperial authorities. The end of the war in 1945 renewed discussions on the contours of the post-war constitutional settlement. It was widely realised that the British were on their way out and the question was that of how and when.

Lengthy negotiations ensued which however did not lead to any agreement. The failure of the Cabinet Mission, and the subsequent sacking of the Viceroy, Lord Wavell were followed by the appointment of Lord Louis Mountbatten to succeed him. A Constituent Assembly was set up in 1946 to decide upon the future of India as a whole. The princely states were granted representation in the Assembly.

Meanwhile, Pandit Nehru, by now the Vice-President of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, continued to make threatening noises towards the states that had decided not to join the Assembly. But even earlier, after the end of the war, many states had begun a process of rapprochement with the nationalist forces, primarily with the Congress. Some Muslim rulers strengthened their contacts with the Muslim League, while Sikh princes did the same with the Akali movement. The people’s movement also had gained strength in the meantime.

In states like Travancore and Cochin, the Communists had established a strong position, especially in the rural areas. They also had developed a base for themselves in the Telengana region of Hyderabad. Many princes in order to bolster their position embarked on a process of democratization. In hindsight, this could be described as being too little too late. Many princes also realised that a post-colonial scenario would entail some association with British India. The real question was what was to the exact nature of this association.

A separate Ministry of States was established by the Government of India in June-July 1947 to deal with matters related with the states. Meanwhile, Lord Mountbatten took the lead in persuading recalcitrant and suspicious princes to agree to this formula.

Two prominent states, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir took advantage of the provisions of the India Independence Act, 1947 by which British control over them lapsed and was not replaced by any other external authority to decline to sign the Instruments of Accession by August 1947. Junagadh, in defiance of geography, signed an agreement acceding to Pakistan. Furthermore, some states also made plans to acceded to Pakistan if the terms were suitable and the circumstances favourable.

While Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir decided not to accede either to India or Pakistan thus legally speaking becoming independent, Junagadh chose to accede to Pakistan defying not only public opinion in the state, but also geography for it did not share a boundary with India’s new neighbour. The common factor as far as these three states were concerned was that the ruler and the majority of the population did not share the same religion.

Hyderabad and Junagadh had Muslim rulers while the majority of the population was Hindu. The case was the exact opposite in Jammu and Kashmir. With independence, the Government of India opened negotiations with Hyderabad. They were long-drawn with the Nizam declining even to accede to India in respect of the three subjects of external affairs, defence and communications.

Finally, in late 1947, a Standstill Agreement maintaining the status quo was signed between the Government of India and the Nizam of Hyderabad. However, communal forces, principally the Ittehadul-Muslimeen, known as the Razakars, led by Kasim Rizvi, were strongly against Hyderabad coming to any agreement with the Indian government. The people’s movement in the state led by the Hyderabad State Congress was pressing for its accession to and integration with India. It launched an agitation for integration of the state. The Government of India and the Nizam continued with their negotiations.

As they dragged on, the atmosphere in Hyderabad became increasingly communalized which led to increased violence. Meanwhile, the Communists strengthened their presence in the Telengana region of the state. Hyderabad decided to complain to the United Nations Security Council against the Government of India’s measures against the state. Finally, in September 1948, the Indian Army was ordered to march into Hyderabad in what was euphemistically called ‘Police Action’. The Nizam surrendered after a few days of ineffective and ineffectual resistance and Hyderabad became a part of India.

Junagadh, one of the leading states of Kathiawad, announced its accession to Pakistan on August 15, 1947. Interestingly, Pakistan delayed announcing whether it had accepted the accession, presumably while waiting for the nature of the Indian response. After being repeatedly pressed by India, Pakistan reported in September 1947 that it had accepted Junagadh’s accession.

Public opinion in Kathiawar was against Junagadh acceding to Pakistan. V.P. Menon, by now the leading player in the Government of India’s efforts to ensure the accession of all princely states, travelled to Junagadh to persuade the state authorities of the futility of acceding to Pakistan to no avail. Like in Hyderabad, the atmosphere became increasingly communalized. The people’s movement in Kathiawar planned setting up of a parallel government. This became a reality in September 1947. As the situation deteriorated further, the Nawab of Junagadh fled to Pakistan in October 1947 and the activists of the people’s movement started moving into the state’s territory.

The Dewan of Junagadh, Sir Shah Nawaz Khan Bhutto, finally invited the Government of India to take over the administration of the state in view of the prevailing circumstances and in November 1947, Jungadh was occupied by the India Army. The Government of India had promised to hold a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the population of the state with reference to the question of accession. The plebiscite held in February 1948.

Within weeks of independence, the Ministry of States set the ball rolling towards the integration of the states into the Indian Union. It appointed Regional Commissioner and Dominion Agents in various states, thus in a sense assuming the role of a Paramount Power. The accession to India also furthered the process of democratization in the states. The peoples movement gathered strength and there were agitations in many states demanding responsible government, which in turn led to violence. The situation in Orissa became serious and Patel and Menon moved with great speed to tackle it.

By December 1947, they brought about the merger of the Orissa states and the Chhattisgarh states, collectively referred to as the Eastern States, with their neighbouring provinces, Orissa and the Central Provinces respectively. The princes were compensated by allowing them to retain considerable amount of property as personal property and more importantly, they were granted considerably large tax-free annual allowances which were known as ‘Privy Purses’. The princes also retained their titles, which were recognized by the Government of India.

Tribal Integration in india

India has many tribes and constitutes 7% of Indian population. Their culture, institutions, values, beliefs and way of life was so different from others that a special policy was required to integrate them in Indian society. The British always had followed the isolation policy. India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru advocated a five point tribal policy which was the first step towards integration of tribals into the society.He stressed on the freedom of tribals to develop their own genius, preservation of rights in land and forests and continuance of traditional tribal institutions.

With the introduction of a system of democratic decentralization to take the place of paternalism characteristic of traditional form of Indian government, a new element has entered the relations between tribes and the more advanced majority communities. The ability to vote in general elections for the Parliament in Delhi and the Legislative Assembly of their respective States did not make much difference to tribals, because they did not understand the implication of the franchise, but the local elections aroused their interest to a much greater extent.

The very fact, that some of the most powerful people of the district approached the poorest villagers for their votes and tried to gain their confidence, convinced them of a fundamental change. The very idea that they could choose their representatives was novel. At first, tribals only voted, for non-tribals, for very few were sufficiently educated to stand for election. Even in areas with a preponderance of tribals, the elected representatives were often non-tribes and abused their powers by exploiting those who had voted for them. But as time passed and the tribes gained experience, they have become shrewder in the choice of their representatives.

The Government of India has adopted a policy of integration of tribals with the mainstream aiming at developing a creative adjustment between the tribes and non tribes leading to a responsible partnership. By adopting the policy of integration or progressive acculturation the Government has laid the foundation for the uninhibited march of the tribals towards equality, upward mobility, and economic viability and assured proximity to the national mainstream. The constitution has committed the nation to two courses of action in respect of scheduled tribes.

Issue of language

The language issue in India has a long history. Although several non-Hindi States have made their displeasure known, it is Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras State) that has consistently, over decades, resisted and opposed any attempt at ‘Hindi imposition’ by the central government.

The non-Hindi States have been resisting short-sighted attempts, mostly by Hindi-speaking leaders of the Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle, especially from the second half of the 1930s, to promote Hindi as the ‘common language’ of the country. The ‘anti-Hindi’ agitation in Tamil Nadu, before and after Independence, took the form of mass mobilisation – demonstrations, massive conferences, militant protests, rail rokos, and so on.

The pre-Independence agitations stood out for resistance to the introduction of Hindi as a compulsory subject in the schools of Madras Presidency. It was part of the Congress’ all-India strategy to replace English, which served as the official language of British India, with Hindi after Independence.

This policy was sought to be passed off as a natural part of the freedom struggle. The agitations during this period were mostly led by the founder and outstanding leader of the Dravidar Kazhagam, E.V. Ramasamy or ‘Periyar’ (the Great Elder). Several prominent Tamil scholars, who feared that the compulsory introduction of Hindi in schools would be a threat to Tamil, participated in the agitation. Violence was used by the State against the agitators and there was a tragic loss of lives. Hundreds courted arrest. The agitation succeeded in preventing the compulsory teaching of Hindi in the schools.

After Independence, the agitations were staged to ensure the continuation of English as an Official Language and to prevent Hindi from being declared the sole Official Language of India. This phase of the agitation was led by C.N. Annadurai, the founder General Secretary of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which broke away from the Dravidar Kazhagam, shortly before Independence.

Congress leaders from South India such as N. G. Ranga, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, T.T. Krishnamachary, and P. Subbarayan defeated the attempts by certain sections of the Congress led by Purushottam Das Tandon and Seth Govind Das and also by the founder-leader of the Jana Sangh, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, to make Hindi the ‘National Language.’ The attempt to make Hindi the sole Official Language was also frustrated. However, there was a recipe for trouble — the prescription that English would be there along with Hindi (in the Devanagari script) as the Official Language only “for fifteen years.”

The Language issues in India are the result of multi-lingual polity. Language problem is a very hot political question in India. India is divided into distinct linguistic regions. Naturally the person of every large linguistic region wants their language to be the national language or the lingua franca of India. During the British rule, English was used as the official language of India. English also was issued as die medium of instruction particularly for higher education. English also became the language of inter-state communication in India.

There were objections against the continued use of English. Even after the continuous use as official language for nearly two hundred years, English did not take firm roots in India. It remained restricted to small circle of elites. Not more than 1% of Indians knew English at the time of independence, Besides, English being a foreign language, continued use of English affronted the sense of national dignity of independent India. Thus, objections to the continued use of English in independent India were almost universal. But there was no unanimity or consensus as to what Indian language should replace English as official language, medium of instruction and as medium of inter-state communication in India.

The Constituent Assembly, after a protracted debate resolved that Hindi in Devanagri script should be the official language of India. It should be noted that the Constituent Assembly was exactly equally divided into supporters and opponents of Hindi. Indeed it was only with the casting vote of the President of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, that Hindi was adopted as the official language of the country.

But it is one thing to declare Hindi as the official language of the Union. It is a totally different proposition to make Hindi acceptable to the Indian people at large. Undoubtedly Hindi is spoken by the single largest group of Indians. But Hindi is certainly not the language of the majority Indians nor can it claim to be the richest among the Indian languages. There was wide spread resistance to the adoption of Hindi as the official language. The resistance was particularly sharp in the southern region. The South looked upon imposition of Hindi, as the imperialism of the North. The constitutional provision that English shall continue side by side with Hindi, somewhat pacified the south.

Hindi is the spoken language for North Indian people. But, most people residing in South Indian states do not speak or understand Hindi. This gives rise to communication problem. A South-Indian and a North-Indian person finds it very hard to talk and communicate with each other because they don’t understand each other’s language of communication. Educated people who can speak and understand English breaks the barrier of language problem and able to talk freely with each other. English language has been helpful in bridging the gap between the Hindi and non-Hindi speaking people.

The constitution originally recognized 13 other languages besides Hindi as the national languages of India. Since the adoption of the constitution several other languages have come to be used as official languages in the states. Thus Nepali and Santhali are used in West Bengal besides Bengali. In Bihar Urdu is also used besides Hindi.

But as medium of instruction and as medium of inter-state communication between non-Hindi speaking states or between non- Hindi-speaking states and the centre, English still continues to be the predominant language. Even in courts particularly the higher courts such as the High Courts and the Supreme Court, English and not Hindi is used.

From Colony to Democracy

Emergence of Electoral Politics

Contemporary Indian political history is categorised into pre-independence and post-independence era. There is a stark contrast in the way politics used to be played out during the freedom movement days and the shape it has taken after independence. In all these years, India polity has seen a drastic change.

It’s fair to say that Indian National Congress dominated the political landscape of India during the pre-independence era. Ever since it was formed in 1885, the party dedicated itself towards strengthening the nationalist movement against the British rule. It set the wheel in motion by organising national and regional campaigns and protest movements. The party embarked upon a policy of boycotting imported British goods and promoting swadeshi goods.

In 1907, the Congress party was split into two. While the moderates such as Dadabhai Naoroji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale wanted reform within the framework of British governance, the radicals such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak emphasised on civil agitation to overthrow the British Empire. Under the aegis of other radical leaders, states like Maharashtra, Punjab and Bengal became the frontrunners in shaping the aspirations of the people.

The initial years of Communist Party of India (CPI) were turbulent as the party struggled to gain credibility. It continued to operate from the underground till 1942 and propagated the ideas of Marxism through weeklies and journals. Despite its cadres being persecuted and repressed by the British, CPI played a seminal role in mobilising the people for the sake of independence.

Simultaneously, a handful of other political parties and social organisations emerged between the 20s and 40s, which included Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). While J&K National Conference is remembered for launching an intensive agitation against the state government and the slogan of “Quit Kashmir”, the RSS presented itself as a social movement.

Emergence of multi-party system and coalition culture has truly affected the decision-making capability of a nation. Differences among political parties over economic issues have become rampant in India. Both national and regional parties were seen at loggerheads over issues such as free-market economy, privatisation, FDI and neo-liberal policies. The effectiveness of political parties has declined over the years.

Caste politics gradually penetrated into the system, more so after the end of the Congress domination. It was considered as the end of subjugation and denigration of the lower caste people by their upper-caste counterparts. As cast- based parties emerged, they diligently started working towards “lower caste empowerment.” A feeling of being victimised by the upper caste started to grow among these regional parties. All they wanted was to weaken the upper caste domination in Indian politics.

The priorities of the political parties in the post-independent era have witnessed a major paradigm shift. Terrorism, insurgency, religious violence, and naxalism are seeping into body politic. The trickle-down effect of corruption is also felt across the parties and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

With multiple parties came an equally diverse set of agenda. While BJP has encouraged free market economy, CPI-M has vehemently opposed globalisation. The equation between the ruling and the opposition has not turned out to be symbiotic. Personal agenda overpowered the larger good of the people. The political motives of regional parties didn’t align with the larger interests of the country. Instead of becoming “effective partners in the process of governance”, these political entities are cashing in on their ‘populist postures.’

 The rise of regional parties and a somewhat sidelining of national parties remains a challenge. That has resulted in fragmented votes and fractured mandate, barring the 2014 General Elections.

Nature of Congress Dominance

After Independence of India, many parties contested elections but the Congress managed to win every election.  Many leaders who were in the forefront of the national struggle were now contesting elections as Congress candidates and thus the party was seen as an inheritor of national movement. The Congress was a well-organised party and by the time the other parties could think of a strategy, the Congress had already started its campaign. Thus, the Congress had the ‘first off the blocks’ advantage. All these factors contributed to the dominance of the party.

Congress evolved in 1885 as a pressure group for the newly educated, professional and commercial classes to a mass movement in the twentieth century. Its social base widened with every civil disobedience movement. It brought together diverse groups,middle, lower and upper classes and castes. Gradually, its leadership also expanded beyond the upper caste and upper class professionals to agriculture based leaders with a rural orientation. By the time of independence, the Congress was transformed into a rainbow-like social coalition broadly representing India’s diversity.

Congress was an ideological coalition as it accommodated the conservative and radical, extremist and moderate and the right, left and all shades of the centre. The Congress was a ‘platform’ for numerous groups, interests and even political parties to take part in the national movement. This coalition-like character of the Congress gave it an unusual strength.

Firstly, a coalition accommodates all those who join it. Therefore, it has to avoid any extreme position and strike a balance on almost all issues. Compromise and inclusiveness are the hallmarks of a coalition.Secondly, in a party that has the nature of a coalition, there is a greater tolerance of internal differences and ambitions of various groups and leaders are accommodated. That is why, even if a group was not happy with the position of the party or with its share of power, it would remain inside the party and fight the other groups rather than leaving the party and becoming an ‘opposition’. These groups inside the party are called factions.

The system of factions functioned as balancing mechanism within the ruling party. Political competition therefore took place within the Congress. In that sense, the Congress acted both as the ruling party as well as the opposition. That is why this period of Indian politics has been described as the ‘Congress system’.

Emergence of Opposition Parties

In politics, the opposition comprises one or more political parties that are opposed to the government party or group in political control of a city, region, state or country. It is the party that goes against another party.

Even during the congress party dominance period, India had a large number of diverse and vibrant opposition parties than other multi-party democracies. These parties played an important part in the politics of the country in the ‘sixties’ and ‘seventies’.

Role of opposition parties

  1. These parties offered a sustained and often principled criticism of the policies and practices of the Congress party. This kept the ruling party under check.
  2. These parties also groomed the leaders who were to play a crucial role in the shaping of our country.

Various opposition parties

  1. Socialist party 

The Congress Socialist party (CSP) was formed within the Congress in 1934 by a group of young leaders who wanted a more radical and egalitarian Congress. In 1948, the Congress amended its constitution to prevent its members from having a dual party membership. This forced the Socialists to form a separate Socialist Party in 1948. The socialists believed in the ideology of democratic socialism. They criticised the Congress for favouring capitalists and landlords and for ignoring the workers and the peasants.

Famous leaders:  Jayaprakash Narayan, Achyut Patwardhan, Asoka Mehta, Acharya Narendra Dev, Rammanohar Lohia andS.M. Joshi were among the leaders of the socialist parties

The Socialist Party went through many splits and reunions leading to the formation of many socialist parties. These included the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party, the Praja Socialist Party and Samyukta Socialist Party. The Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and the Janata Dal (Secular) trace their origins to the Socialist Party.

  1. Communist party of India 

From 1935, the Communists worked mainly from within the fold of the Indian National Congress. A parting of ways took place in December 1941, when the Communists decided to support the British in their war against Nazi Germany. Soon after independence, the Communists encouraged violent uprisings in Telangana. the Communists failed to popular support for their position and ere crushed by the armed forces. In 1951, the Communist Party abandoned the path of violent revolution and decided to participate in the approaching general election. In the first general elections, CPI won 16 seats, and emerged as the largest opposition party.

Famous leaders: A. K. Gopalan, S.A. Dange, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, P.C. Joshi, Ajay Ghosh and P. Sundarraya were among the notable leaders of the CPI.

Present scenario: The Party went through a major split in 1964 following the ideological rift between Soviet Union and China. The pro-Soviet faction remained as the CPI, while the opponents formed the CPI(M). Both these parties continue to exist to this day.

3.Bhartiya Jana Sangh

The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 with Shyama Prasad Mukherjee as its founder-President.

It emphasised the idea of one country, one culture and one nation and believed that the country could become modern, progressive and strong on the basis of Indian culture and traditions. The party called for a reunion of India and Pakistan in Akhand Bharat. The party was in forefront of the agitation to replace English with Hindi as the official language of India and was also opposed to the granting of concessions to religious and cultural minorities. 

Famous leaders: The party’s leaders included Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Balraj Madhok

In the 1950s Jana Sangh remained on the margins of the electoral politics and was able to secure only 3 Lok Sabha seats in 1952 elections and 4 seats in 1957 general elections to Lok Sabha.  The Bharatiya Janata Party traces its roots to the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.

  1. Swantantra party

Swatantra Party was formed in August 1959 after the Nagpur resolution of the Congress which called for land ceilings, take-over of food grain trade by the state and adoption of cooperative farming. 

The Swatantra Party wanted the government to be less and less involved in controlling the economy. It believed that prosperity could come only through individual freedom. It was critical of the development strategy of state intervention in the economy, centralised planning, nationalisation and the public sector. It instead favoured expansion of a free private sector.

The Swatantra Party was against land ceilings in agriculture, and opposed cooperative farming and state trading. It was also opposed to the progressive tax regime and demanded dismantling of the licensing regime. It was critical of the policy of non-alignment and maintaining friendly relations with the Soviet Union and advocated closer ties with the United States. 

The party was led by old Congressmen like C. Rajagopalachari, K.M.Munshi, N.G.Ranga and Minoo Masani. 

Economic Development

Economic Development and Planning

Mixed Economy Model

The objective of India’s development strategy has been to establish a socialistic pattern of society through economic growth with self-reliance, social justice and alleviation of poverty. These objectives were to be achieved within a democratic political framework using the mechanism of a mixed economy where both public and private sectors co-exist. India initiated planning for national economic development with the establishment of the Planning Commission.

The aim of the First Five Year Plan (1951-56) was to raise domestic savings for growth and to help the economy resurrect itself from colonial rule. The real break with the past in planning came with the Second Five Year Plan (Nehru-Mahalanobis Plan). The industrialization strategy articulated by Professor Mahalanobis placed emphasis on the development of heavy industries and envisaged a dominant role for the public sector in the economy.

The entrepreneurial role of the state was evoked to develop the industrial sector. Commanding heights of the economy were entrusted to the public sector. The objectives of industrial policy were: a high growth rate, national self-reliance, reduction of foreign dominance, building up of indigenous capacity, encouraging small scale industry, bringing about balanced regional development, prevention of concentration of economic power, reduction of income inequalities and control of economy by the State.

The planners and policy makers suggested the need for using a wide variety of instruments like state allocation of investment, licensing and other regulatory controls to steer Indian industrial development on a closed economy basis. The strategy underlying the first three plans assumed that once the growth process gets established, the institutional changes would ensure that benefits of growth trickle down to the poor.

But doubts were raised in the early seventies about the effectiveness of the ‘trickle down’ approach and its ability to banish poverty. Further, the growth itself generated by the planned approach remained too weak to create adequate surpluses- a prerequisite for the ‘trickle down’ mechanism to work. Public sector did not live upto the expectations of generating surpluses to accelerate the pace of capital accumulation and help reduce inequality.

Agricultural growth remained constrained by perverse institutional conditions. There was unchecked population growth in this period. Though the growth achieved in the first three Five Year Plans was not insignificant, yet it was not sufficient to meet the aims and objectives of development. These brought into view the weakness of economic strategy.

There was some progress in the process of deregulation during the 1980s. Two kinds of delicencing activity took place. First, thirty two groups of industries were delicensed without any investment limit. Second, in 1988, all industries were exempted from licensing except for a specified negative list of twenty six industries.

Entry into the industrial sector was made easier but exit still remained closed and sealed. Hence, the roots of the liberalization program were started in the late 80’s when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India, but the reach and force of the reform 3 program was rather limited. There were political reasons as to why this program could not be enhanced which we talk about later.

First five year plan

In July 1951, the Planning Commission issued the draft outline of the First Five Year Plan for the period April 1951 to March 1956. It was presented to the parliament in Dec. 1952 by the Planning Commission.

At the time of the First Five-Year Plan India faced with the problem of influx of refugees, severe food shortage and mounting inflation. Moreover, there was disequilibrium in the economy caused by the Second World War as well as the partition. The highest priority was given to agriculture to overcome the food crisis and to curb inflation.

Second Plan

The second plan was to set India on the path of industrialisation. P.C. Mahalanobis was the moving spirit behind the second five year plan. He gave the highest priority to strengthening the industrial base of the economy. It was in this light that the 1948 Industrial Policy Resolution was revised and the new resolution of 1956 was adopted. There was emphasis on the expansion of the public sector and establishment of a socialistic pattern of society.

The national income of India increased and the per capita income increased by 8%. The growth rate of per capita income was low because of higher rate of population. The national income increased from Rs. 11,670 crore to Rs. 14,140 crore and per capita income rose from Rs. 299 to Rs. 326 during the plan period at 1960-61 prices. The population growth rate was more than 2% per annum during the plan period.

Food production increased by 15% from 67 million tonnes (MT) to 75 million tonnes (MT). Production of cotton increased by 31.5%; tea by 9% and sugarcane by 22.5%. There was, however, a fall in the production of Jute.

The experience of the first two plans suggested that agriculture should be assigned top priority. The Third Plan, therefore, gave top priority to agriculture but it also laid adequate emphasis on the development of basic industries, which were vitally necessary for rapid economic development of the country. However, between the India’s conflict with China in 1962 and with Pakistan in 1965, the approach of the Third Plan was later shifted from development to defence and development.

In 1960-67, following a severe drought, national income regis­tered only nominal increase of 0.9 per cent. However, the record harvest of 1967-68, marking a significant increase in agricultural output, was instrumental in raising national income by 9 per cent in that year (Hantal, 1996).

The slow rate of growth in agricultural production not only depressed the rate of growth of the economy but also led to an alarming dependence on imports food-grains and other agricultural commodities. During the Third Plan, the country imported 25 million tones of food grains, 3.9 million bales of cotton and 1.5 million rates of jute. Similarly, industrial production also slowed down. The index of industrial production (base 1960-100) increased by only 1.7 per cent in 1966-67 and there was hardly any growth (0.3%) in 1967-68.

This sharp deceleration was accompanied by an increased in unutilized capacity in a number of industries. Many factors constituted to it: decline in purchasing power because of the setback on the agricul­tural front; stagnation in investment; shortage of foreign exchange because of the need for abnormal high import of food-grains and raw materials and for completion of number of projects started earlier.

As a result of several measures taken by the government – such as import liberalization following devaluation, decontrol of certain commodities like steel, coal, paper, fertilizers and commercial vehicles, delicensing of a number of industries, some increase in the public sector demand for domestic manufactures and a rise in the export of engineering goods; an all-round industrial economy began in January 1968 and resulted in increase of 6.2 per cent in industrial production in 1968-69. Hence, the process of liberalization policy in India began, though very slowly, during this period.

Green Revolution

The introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds after 1965 and the increased use of fertilizers and irrigation are known collectively as the Green Revolution, which provided the increase in production needed to make India self-sufficient in food grains, thus improving agriculture in India. Famines in India, once accepted as inevitable, have not returned since the introduction of Green Revolution crops.

The term “Green Revolution” is a general one that is applied to successful agricultural experiments in many Third World countries. It is not specific to India. But it was most successful in India.

There were three basic elements in the method of the Green Revolution:
(1) Continued expansion of farming areas;

(2) Double-cropping existing farmland;

(3) Using seeds with improved genetics.

  1. Continued expansion of farming areas

The area of land under cultivation was being increased right from 1947. But this was not enough in meeting with rising demand. Other methods were required. Yet, the expansion of cultivable land also had to continue. So, the Green Revolution continued with this quantitative expansion of farmlands. 

  1. Double-cropping existing farmland:

Double-cropping was a primary feature of the Green Revolution. Instead of one crop season per year, the decision was made to have two crop seasons per year. The one-season-per-year practice was based on the fact that there is only natural monsoon per year.

This was correct. So, there had to be two “monsoons” per year. One would be the natural monsoon and the other an artificial “monsoon”. The artificial monsoon came in the form of huge irrigation facilities. Dams were built to arrest large volumes of natural monsoon water, which were earlier being wasted. Simple irrigation techniques were also adopted.

  1. Using seeds with superior genetics:

This was the scientific aspect of the Green Revolution. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (which was established by the British in 1929 but was not known to have done any significant research) was re-organized in 1965 and then again in 1973. It developed new strains of high yield value (HYV) seeds, mainly wheat and rice, but also millet and corn. 

The introduction of dwarf high-yielding varieties of wheat like Lerma Rojo and Sonora 64, on Indian soils during the mid 1960s coupled with farm technology, use of other inputs like chemical fertilisers and pesticides and backed by a strong governmental support allowed cereal production to increase manifolds to feed hungry mouths, thus bring about the green revolution. This led to rapid increase of cereal production and transformed India from a food hungry to self sufficient country.

By the 1960’s India was desperate for a breakthrough. The nation’s self-confidence was at ebb. Nehru was aging. Political uncertainty loomed. Food crises were prevalent. Marginal increases were only through bringing more land area under cultivation and not through increases in productivity. Food reserves were nil. India was just about meeting its deficit with imports. Clearly a quantum leap was needed.

It was then that India discovered Borlaug and the Norin dwarf. A small field at Pusa was seeded and the results were dramatic. It was what India had been waiting for. Once Borlaug and India were convinced that they had a solution, the realisation of what needed to be done dawned.

Instead of tragedy, though, a miracle was born in the mid 1960s at scientist Swaminathan’s laboratory in New Delhi–and, a few years later, at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, which he later headed. Swaminathan brought into India seeds developed in Mexico by U.S. agricultural guru Norman Borlaug and, after cross-breeding them with local species, created a wheat plant that yielded much more grain than traditional types. Scientists at IRRI accomplished the same miracle for rice. Imminent tragedy turned to a new era of hope for Asia, paving the way for the Asian economic miracle of the 1980s and 90s. That turn of history, one of the truly astonishing transformations of the century, is now known as the Green Revolution.

The first harvest with the new seeds was three times greater than the previous year’s. 
But the revolution was still incomplete. Only Punjab state had the right irrigation for the new technologies, the state-run food collection and distribution networks were notoriously inefficient, and new fertilizers and pesticides were needed, along with credit lines for small farmers.

Operation Flood

Launched in 1970, Operation Flood has helped dairy farmers direct their own development, placing control of the resources they create in their own hands. A National Milk Grid links milk producers throughout India with consumers in over 700 towns and cities, reducing seasonal and regional price variations while ensuring that the producer gets fair market prices in a transparent manner on a regular basis.

The bedrock of Operation Flood has been village milk producers’ cooperatives, which procure milk and provide inputs and services, making modern management and technology available to members. Operation Flood’s objectives included:

  1. Increase milk production (“a flood of milk”)
  2. Augment rural incomes
  3. Reasonable prices for consumers

Programme Implementation

Operation Flood was implemented in three phases.

Phase I

Phase I (1970-1980) was financed by the sale of skimmed milk powder and butter oil gifted by the European Union then EEC through the World Food Programme. NDDB planned the programme and negotiated the details of EEC assistance. During its first phase, Operation Flood linked 18 of India’s premier milksheds with consumers in India’s four major metropolitan cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Phase II

Operation Flood’s Phase II (1981-85) increased the milksheds from 18 to 136; 290 urban markets expanded the outlets for milk. By the end of 1985, a self-sustaining system of 43,000 village cooperatives covering 4.25 million milk producers had become a reality. Domestic milk powder production increased from 22,000 tons in the pre-project year to 140,000 tons by 1989, all of the increase coming from dairies set up under Operation Flood. In this way EEC gifts and World Bank loan helped to promote self-reliance. Direct marketing of milk by producers’ cooperatives increased by several million litres a day.

Phase III

Phase III (1985-1996) enabled dairy cooperatives to expand and strengthen the infrastructure required to procure and market increasing volumes of milk. Veterinary first-aid health care services, feed and artificial insemination services for cooperative members were extended, along with intensified member education.

From the outset, Operation Flood was conceived and implemented as much more than a dairy programme. Rather, dairying was seen as an instrument of development, generating employment and regular incomes for millions of rural people. “Operation Flood can be viewed as a twenty year experiment confirming the Rural Development Vision” ( World Bank Report 1997c.)

India’s External Relations

Introduction to India’s Foreign Policy:

Nehru foreign policy

Jawaharlal Nehru was the architect of the foreign policy of independent India which was essentially the continuation of the internationalist outlook of India’s freedom struggle that had begun to take shape in the 1920s.

Articulation of this outlook was chiefly contributions of Nehru but it particularly reflected the outlook of the freedom struggle which was viewed as a part of the worldwide struggle for freedom and progress.

Jawaharlal Nehru is considered to be the architect of modern India. Apart from his careful handling of India’s tumultuous domestic situation in the years immediately after the Independence, Nehru’s major contribution lies in the field of foreign policies. 

In fact, Nehru determined India’s international profile to a great degree in the post-independence years, in his capacity as the foreign minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy has been made subject to much controversy and debate, like his economic policies. However, taken in the context of India’s newly found status as a democratic republic, Nehru’s foreign affairs policies seem to be extremely apt. 

Socialism can be said to be one of the greatest international influences on Nehru, but Gandhi’s ideals of Satyagraha also influenced him to a great degree. But he committed himself to neither point of view in framing his foreign policy. Nehru’s foreign policies were characterized by two major ideological aspects. First, he wanted India to have an identity that would be independent of any form of overt commitment to either power bloc, the USA or the Soviet.

Secondly, he had an unshaken faith in goodwill and honesty in matters of international affairs. The first policy led ultimately to the founding of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). His second faith was terribly shaken by the Chinese attack of 1962, openly disobeying all the clauses of the Panchsheel or five-point agreement of 1954 between New Delhi and Peking. This breach of faith was a major psychological shock for Nehru, and was partially the reason for his death. 

Nehru saw war and violent insurgency from very close quarters as a freedom fighter, and he believed in neither. In his foreign policies, Nehru tried to guide India in such a way, so as to steer clear from any form of violence and militarism. He rightly believed that a newly decolonized nation must invest all its economic and logistic resources towards development and not defense and armament. Just like his economic policies, which were non-committal towards any ideological position, Nehru wanted to bring in a healthy level of pragmatism in his dealings of India’s foreign affairs as well.

He understood that overt commitment to any of the two major power blocs to emerge in the aftermath of World War II, would not serve India’s path. He therefore wanted to tread a third path, which was not necessarily the middle path. 

It should be remembered that this dogged non-commitment of Nehru was not seen sympathetically by any of the super powers of either East or West at its initial stage. It was frequently termed as a kind of international opportunism and was accused of ‘neutralism’ – a stance reckoned to be not only dangerous but also equally immoral in the world of International politics. However, the increasing popularity of NAM among various Asian and African countries and Nehru’s growing stature as a statesman situation changed their views. India too benefited from this position, as it managed to secure rebuilding grants from member countries of either bloc.

After Nehru’s successful mediation in the Korean War and the Congo problem, putting an end to a long and violent struggle, his status as a commendable and efficient statesman reached new heights. Jawaharlal Nehru’s theory of ideological non-commitment in a world that was rendered dangerous by the Cold War was appreciated by one and all. 

Nehru’s unshaken belief in the force of international brotherhood was attested with his decision to continue with India’s Commonwealth status. He was made subject to much criticism back home because of the support he extended towards the Commonwealth, particularly after the complication of the independence issue by the British government in the post World War II years, leading to the unwanted partition. However Nehru, always the believer in peaceful alliances and solution of international affairs based on discussions, went on with his ideals. 

Nehru’s Foreign policies did not augur well when it came to deal with the neighbors. Kashmir was a perpetual problem, and he failed to reach any successful negotiation regarding Kashmir with the neighbor Pakistan. Nehru had an innate belief in honest fellow-feeling and political generosity. He tried to force a negotiation with the Pakistani government through the United Nations. But the Pakistani military rulers denied any peaceful agreement.

The offer of a possible plebiscite was also taken off in 1950. After India’s dogged denial of the two-nation theory, a result in favor of Kashmir in the Muslim dominated Kashmir would be a strategic disaster for India. The Kashmir problem remained unresolved, and not even Nehru’s diplomatic expertise could give any positive direction to the problem. It still continues to be the one of the key international problems in South Asia. 

Nehru’s foreign policies concerning China have been made subject to much criticism. However, even in this case, it was Nehru’s faith in transparency in the handling of International relations that is seen to be the root of all problems. Nehru was intent on a very warm and mutually beneficial relationship between India and China. The five-point agreement or the Panchsheel between New Delhi and Peking initiated in 1954 was a result of these negotiations. However, China started patrolling certain parts of the Indian border from 1955 onwards. Delhi started negotiations to solve the problem in a peaceful way.

India, under the leadership of Nehru wanted to take one issue at a time and begin the discussions. The Chinese government, under Chou En-lai wanted to treat the border issue in its entirety at one go. It was gross violation of the five-point agreement. The Chinese denial for the arbitration from the International Court of Justice complicated the problem. 

Amidst such tensions, the Chinese suddenly started a full-scale invasion in 1962. It was a rude shock, not only to Nehru, but to the entire international society. The Indian military was unprepared and also unequipped. Both USA and the Soviet extended token help. Soviet was quite busy with the Cuban crisis, however soon after the problem subsided, President Kruschev did extend some help. American help was minimum, compared to the massive military help that was extended to Pakistan in 1954.

Non Alignment Policy of india

When India won its independence barely two years after the end of World War II, the entire world was still recuperating from the most calamitous war in its history. Six years of fierce conflict involving a majority of nations of the world had killed approximately 60 to 80 million people.

The world was divided into two belligerent camps that were at odds with each other. Jawaharlal Nehru had inherited a nation of 370 million famished people. The country’s economy was in disarray. India’s share of the world’s wealth had fallen from about 30 per cent in the mid 18th century to less than 3 per cent when the British left the country in 1947.

The newly independent nations that emerged in the 1950s and the 1960s became an important factor in changing the balance of power within the United Nations. These new member states had a few characteristics in common; they were non-white, with evolving economies, facing internal problems that were the result of their colonial past. This often put them at odds with European countries and made them suspicious of European-style government structures, political ideas and economic institutions. These nations felt that they were excluded from the decisions made by the western nations and desired to have an organisation which reflected their concerns.

One of Nehru’s first acts as the leader of independent India was to convene The Asian Relations Conference in Delhi (1947) where the principles of foreign policy of independent India were proclaimed. This conference was attended by representatives of 29 countries and helped in strengthening the solidarity of all the Asian countries.

The first large scale Afro-Asian Conference known as The Bandung Conference was a meeting of newly independent Asian and African countries, took place in April 1955 in Indonesia. The twenty-nine countries that participated in this conference represented nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s land surface and a total population of 1.5 billion people. The conference was organised by Indonesia, Burma,  Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and India. Its aims were to promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism by any nation. This conference was an important step toward Nehru’s dream of the Non-Aligned Movement.

A champion of human freedom, Nehru opposed colonialism in his foreign policy and it received high praise from many of the newly independent countries though it was viewed with skepticism by the US. American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles characterized the non-aligned ideal as immoral and opportunistic.

Under Nehru’s guidance, India became the first country to begin a policy that was new in the history of international relations – the policy of Non-Alignment, which was founded in 1961 in Belgrade and was ably supported by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Sukarno of Indonesia and Joseph Broz Tito of Yugoslavia.

Nehru’s policy of neutrality paved the way for the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). India facilitated the involvement of former colonies and newly independent countries into the organization which aimed to protect the interests of undeveloped nations in international politics.

The policy of non-alignment meant the acceptance of the inevitability of war but on the conviction that it could be avoided. Non-alignment entailed a position to judge each issue without bias or prejudice. The secret of this policy was that India was never permanently pro-west or pro-east.

The policy of non-alignment was based on the five principles of Panchasheel, which directed international conduct. These principles which were envisaged and formulated in 1954, were mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; non interference in each other’s military and internal affairs; mutual non aggression; equality and mutual benefit and finally, peaceful coexistence and economic cooperation.

By 1955, a number of countries including Burma, China, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Cambodia had accepted the principles of Panchasheel. The technique of maintaining world peace through non-alignment was to make sure that each nation pursued its own interest without disturbing other nations.

India’s economic backwardness was a major factor for the adoption of the policy of non-alignment. Foreign aid was an important component for the development of India’s embryonic economy and therefore aid was welcome from all parts of the world – UK, Germany, USA, Japan and USSR. India was tied up with both the east as well as the west for economic development. However, Nehru’s principle of Panchasheel did hit a setback when India was attacked by the Chinese in 1962 and Nehru was severely criticised for the country’s failure to defend itself.

Chinese aggression against India now recognised that non-alignment had to be tied up with immediate defence requirements in order to survive. Nehru wanted to make the world an abode of peace. He believed that in the atomic age, peace had become the only guarantor of human survival.

As the first Prime Minister of India, Nehru managed to transcend regional boundaries and emerged as a global statesman. He supervised India’s foreign policy with other countries and created a political incubator for the new country to develop.

Relations with neighbors [Pakistan & China]

Relations with Pakistan

Britain ended its colonial rule over the Indian subcontinent, which becomes two independent nations – Hindu-majority, but secularly governed India and the Islamic republic of Pakistan, in 1947. The division, widely known as Partition, sparks massive rioting that kills up to 10 lakh, while another 1.5 crore people flee their homes in one of the world’s largest human migrations. The two young nations begin a war over control of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority kingdom ruled by a Hindu maharaja. A UN-brokered cease-fire ends the war in a year with Kashmir divided between them.

India and Pakistan agreed to a UN Security Council resolution in 1949 calling for a referendum in which Kashmiris would determine their future; the vote never takes place.

India and Pakistan signed a World Bank-brokered Indus Water Treaty in 1960 governing six rivers, or three rivers each. It is the only India-Pakistan treaty that has held. A second war begun over Kashmir in 1965, ending a month later in another UN-mandated ceasefire. A third war was fought in 1971, this time as India supports secessionists in East Pakistan. The war ends with the creation of Bangladesh.

Armed resistance to Indian rule in Kashmir begun in 1989. India accused Pakistan of giving weapons and training to the fighters. Pakistan said it offered only “moral and diplomatic” support. India detonated five nuclear devices in tests in 1998. Pakistan detonated six. Both were slapped with international sanctions.

1965 War:

The 1965 war between India and Pakistan was the second conflict between the two countries over the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The clash did not resolve this dispute, but it did engage the United States and the Soviet Union in ways that would have important implications for subsequent superpower involvement in the region.

In early 1965, Pakistani and Indian forces clashed over disputed territory along the border between the two nations. Hostilities intensified that August when the Pakistani Army attempted to take Kashmir by force. The attempt to seize the state was unsuccessful, and the second India-Pakistan War reached a stalemate. This time, the international politics of the Cold War affected the nature of the conflict.

The United States had a history of ambivalent relations with India. During the 1950s, U.S. officials regarded Indian leadership with some caution due to India’s involvement in the nonaligned movement, particularly its prominent role at the Bandung Conference of 1955. The United States hoped to maintain a regional balance of power, which meant not allowing India to influence the political development of other states. However, a 1962 border conflict between India and China ended with a decisive Chinese victory, which motivated the United States and the United Kingdom to provide military supplies to the Indian Army. After the clash with China, India also turned to the Soviet Union for assistance, which placed some strains on U.S.-Indian relations. However, the United States also provided India with considerable development assistance throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

After Pakistani troops invaded Kashmir, India moved quickly to internationalize the regional dispute. It asked the United Nations to reprise its role in the First India-Pakistan War and end the current conflict. The Security Council passed Resolution 211 on September 20 calling for an end to the fighting and negotiations on the settlement of the Kashmir problem, and the United States and the United Kingdom supported the UN decision by cutting off arms supplies to both belligerents. This ban affected both belligerents, but Pakistan felt the effects more keenly since it had a much weaker military in comparison to India.

The UN resolution and the halting of arms sales had an immediate impact. India accepted the ceasefire on September 21 and Pakistan on September 22. The ceasefire alone did not resolve the status of Kashmir, and both sides accepted the Soviet Union as a third-party mediator. Negotiations in Tashkent concluded in January 1966, with both sides giving up territorial claims, withdrawing their armies from the disputed territory. Nevertheless, although the Tashkent agreement achieved its short-term aims, conflict in South Asia would reignite a few years later.

1971 War:

The Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 started on December 3 in the year 1971 and lasted for 13 days, after which, Pakistan surrendered to India and Bangladesh. The war started when Pakistan launched air strikes on 11 Indian airbases. Over 3,800 soldiers of India and Pakistan sacrificed their lives in this war to end the genocide Pakistan had been conducting against the Bengali population of East Pakistan.

The war was a result of the Bangladesh Liberation war which was a conflict between the traditionally dominant West Pakistanis and the majority East Pakistanis. A campaign of rape, torture, killings and conflicts have pushed about nine million refugees into India following the widespread genocide which Pakistan conducted against the Bengali population of East Pakistan, aimed in particular at the minority Hindu population. It was at this time, that ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi decided to end the genocide than to simply give refuge to those who made it across to refugee camps.

On December 3, the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) launched a pre-emptive strike on 11 airfields in north-western India, including Agra, which was 480 kilometres from the border. The strikes from Pakistan marked the official start of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Following the strikes, an immediate mobilisation of troops was ordered by Gandhi.

Pakistan attacked at several places along India’s western border with Pakistan, but the Indian army successfully held their positions. The Indian Army quickly responded to the Pakistan Army’s movements in the west and captured around 15,010 kilometres of Pakistan territory.

In this war, over 3,800 soldiers of India and Pakistan sacrificed their lives to end the genocide Pakistan had been conducting against the Bengali population of East Pakistan.

By exploiting weakness in the enemy’s positions and avoiding opposition, India registered the victory in its name. On December 16, the Pakistani forces stationed in East Pakistan surrendered on the negotiation of Lt Gen JFR Jacob.

The war stripped Pakistan of more than half of its population and with nearly one-third of its army in captivity.

Kargil War:

The war took place between May and July of 1999 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil district. The conflict is believed to have been orchestrated by the then Pakistan army chief General Pervez Musharraf without the knowledge of the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

It began with the infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory. The infiltrators positioned themselves in key locations that gave them a strategic advantage during the start of the conflict.  Based on information from local shepherds, the Indian Army was able to ascertain the points of incursion and launch “Operation Vijay”.

The Army declared the mission successful on July 26, 1999; since then the day has been celebrated annually as Vijay Diwas. The victory came at a high price. The official death toll on the Indian side was 527, while that on the Pakistani side was between 357 and 453.

Relations with China:

The then Prime Minister, Nehru viewed Indian independence and Chinese revolution as parallel expressions of resurgent Asian nationalism and wanted them to be friendly. Nehru visualised China as the future third great power but hastened to add India as the fourth . The visits by Prime Ministers of China and India from June 1954 to Jan 1957 strengthened the friendly feeling.

The Tibet issue disturbed the cordial neighbourly relation. India acknowledged China’s suzerainty over Tibet subject to Tibet’s autonomy. The Chinese army invaded Tibet on 7th Oct 1950. India stressed on peaceful negotiation of Tibet problem; china dismissed Indian interference claiming Tibet as its internal affairs. In 1954 they signed “India-China agreement on trade and intercourse” following China and Tibet May 1951 treaty.

In 1954 the signing of an eight year agreement on Tibet initiated India-China relationship based on Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (or Panch Shila); with the slogan – ‘Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai’. In 1954, new Indian maps included the Aksai Chin region within its boundaries. The detection of a completed Chinese road in Aksai Chin of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir region instigated serious and frequent Indian protests and border clashes. In January 1959, PRC premier Zhou Enlai informed Nehru that China never accepted the Mcmahon Line defining the eastern border between India and China; rejecting Nehru’s contention that the border was based on treaty and custom.

China wanted Aksai Chin back in exchange of its claim on India’s north-east. The Indian government rejected the idea as being humiliating and unequal. Relations further deteriorated during 1960s. Border disputes resulted in a short border war between the People’s Republic of China and India in 20 October 1962. The PRC pushed the unprepared and inadequately led Indian forces to within forty-eight kilometres of the Assam plains in the northeast and occupied strategic points in Ladakh, until the PRC declared a unilateral cease-fire on 21 November and withdrew twenty kilometers behind its contended line of control.

Relations between the PRC and India deteriorated during the rest of the 1960s and the early 1970s while the Sino-Pakistani relations improved; Sino-Soviet relations worsened; affecting Indo- China relation adversely. In late 1967 Indian and Chinese forces in Sikkim fought two battles, first – the “Nathu La incident” and second – the “Chola incident”. They clashed again in 1984 in the Sumdorong Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.

Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988 initiated a new era. A joint statement emphasizing the necessity to revive warm relationship, increasing bilateral ties in diversified areas and moreover, resolving the border issues, was issued. Confidence-building measures continued in 1993. Different meetings were held to solve the “line of actual control” issue, deployment of armed forces along it and mutual knowledge about military exercises etc.

India’s nuclear test in May 1998 again deteriorated the relationship when the Indian Defense Minister stated China as ‘India’s greatest threat’. In 2000 the Indian President’s visit to China; in 2002 the Chinese Premier’s visit to India; in 2003 the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to China improved the relationship greatly. China’s accepting Sikkim as an integral Indian state is a positive step towards solving the border problems. 

At present both countries have a cordial relation barring a few incidents of scoring diplomatic points over each other and both countries are concentrating on their respective growth stories. Certain issues however remain sore points between them and must be solved through mutual dialogue.

India’s Nuclear Policy

Nuclearization has had unforeseen consequences for India security.  Though nuclear weapons, the perfect status quo weapon, has benefits for a status quo power such as India, there are also some concerns about what it does to the military balance in South Asia.

By neutralizing India’s conventional superiority, nuclear weapons may have been partly responsible for hobbling India’s cavacity to react to Pakistan’s constant provocations. Both the Kargil crisis (1999) and the Parakram crisis (2001— 2002) demonstrated this. 

In Kargil, despite unambiguous evidence of Pakistani forces crossing the Line of Control (LoC), the Indian military response was limited to dealing with the forces that had already crossed the LoC rather than with attacking their support bases across the LoC or punishing Pakistan for that misadventure. New Delhi was extremely careful not to allow its forces to cross the LoC, giving strict instructions to its military, including the air force, that it must stay within Indian territory. Such orders constrained Indian military operations, but were nevertheless seen as necessary to prevent any escalation to a full-scale war, with potential consequences for further escalation to the nuclear level. 

But Pakistan also miscalculated the Indian response: Pakistani military leadership had apparently assumed that India cannot react at all to the military incursions in Kargil because of New Delhi’s fear of nuclear escalation. They were wrong in that calculation but fear of nuclear escalation did limit the Indian response to India’s side of the LoC.

The crisis of Democratic Order

There are three types of emergencies under the Indian Constitution namely-

  • National Emergency
  • Failure of constitutional machinery in states
  • Financial Emergency

National Emergency

Article 352 of the Indian Constitution talks about the national emergency. National emergency is imposed whereby there is a grave threat to the security of India or any of its territory due to war, external aggression or armed rebellion. Such emergency shall be imposed by the president on the basis of written request by the council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. When they are satisfied that they are satisfied that there is an eminent danger thereof.

Every proclamation is required to be laid before each House of Parliament, it will cease to operate after one month from the date of its issue unless in the meantime it is approved by the parliament, the proclamation may continue for a period of 6 months unless revoked by the president. For further continuance of emergency the resolution has to be passed by either house of parliament by a majority of not less than two-third members of the houses.

During the times of such emergency the executive, legislative and financial power rests with the centre whereas the state legislature is not suspended. The union government under Art.250 of the constitution gets the power to legislate in regards to subjects enumerated in the state list. Except Art20 and 21 all the fundamental rights are suspended. Under Art.359 the president may suspend the right to move to the courts for enforcement of fundamental rights during the time of emergency.

National emergency has been imposed thrice in the country- in 1962 at time of Chinese aggression, in 1971 during the indo-pak war, in 1975 on the grounds of internal disturbances.

Failure of Constitutional Machinery in State

Article 256 talks about the failure of constitutional machinery in state also known as the President’s rule. If the president on Governor’s report or otherwise is satisfied that the situation has arisen that the government can’t be carried in accordance with the constitutional provisions then, he may issue State emergency.

The President can declare emergency either by the report of Governor or he himself is satisfied that the situation is such that the emergency has to be imposed. But at times, the President may declare emergency when a report is not received from the governor. This was done by President Venkataraman in 1991 in the state of Tamil Nadu even though he didn’t receive a report from the governor.

After the 42th Amendment of the constitution the state emergency was made immune from judicial review. But later in the 44th Amendment the legality of President’s rule could be challenged.

The proclamation relating to state emergency shall be laid before each House of Parliament unless both Houses approve it, the emergency shall cease to have effect after the expiry of a period of two months. Further the duration of proclamation can be extended to 6 months each time by both Houses of Parliament passing resolution approving its continuance. Beyond the period of an year the proclamation can only be continued if the Election Commission certifies that it is not possible to hold election in the state or that territory. The consequences of state emergency are- 

  • The president assumes all the executive power of the state himself. The state administration runs by him or any person appointed by him generally the Governor.
  • During such proclamation, the state assembly is either dissolved or suspended. But the MLA’s do not lose their membership of the Assembly.
  • Parliament makes laws regarding the state list. The parliament only passes the budget for the state.
  • The High court of the state functions independently.
  • President also proclaims ordinances in the state.

Financial Emergency

The president under Article 360 of the constitution has the power to declare financial emergency if he is satisfied that the financial stability or the credit of India or any part of its territory is threatened. It has to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament and ceases to operate at the expiration of two months unless meanwhile approved by the resolution of Houses.

During the operation of financial emergency, the executive authority of the union extends to the giving of directions to any state to observe certain specified canons or financial propriety and such other directions that the President may find necessary. The directions may include reduction of salaries or allowance of those serving a state, of all those in connection with the affairs of union including judges of high court and Supreme Court. There has been no occasion of financial emergency in India.

During the period of emergency for the execution of power there might be infringement of Fundamental rights of individuals, which are judicially granted by the Constitution of India. The validity of actions must be reviewed to deter political gains and give way to political interest. Despite abuse of powers of the emergency provisions still have an important role to play in the conditions prevailing in India, though it still remains a controversial issue in the country.

J.P. Movement

In 1975, India experienced its greatest political crisis since independence when Internal Emergency was declared on 26 June.

By the beginning of 1973 Indira Gandhi’s popularity began to decline. People’s expectations were unfulfilled. Little dent was being made in rural or urban poverty or economic inequality, nor was there any lessening of caste and class oppression in the countryside.The immediate provocation for the rising discontent was the marked deterioration in the economic situation. A combination of recession, growing unemployment, rampant inflation and scarcity of foodstuffs created a serious crisis.

The burden of feeding and sheltering nearly 10 million refugees from Bangladesh during 1971 had depleted the grain reserves and, combined with the cost of the Bangladesh war, had led to a large budgetary deficit. The war had also drained foreign exchange reserves. Monsoon rains failed for two years in succession during 1972 and 1973, leading to a terrible drought in most parts of the country and a massive shortage of foodgrains, and fuelling their prices.

Economic recession, unemployment, price rise and scarcity of goods led to large-scale industrial unrest and a wave of strikes in different parts of the country during 1972 and 1973, culminating in an all-India railway strike in May 1974. The railway strike lasted twenty-two days but was broken in the end. Mrs Gandhi’s popularity among the workers was eroded further.

To tackle the deteriorating economic, political and law and order situation firm and clear leadership was needed, as exhibited during the Bangladesh crisis and in the handling of foreign affairs. But that was not forthcoming. The political situation was worsened by the play of other factors. Congress had been declining as an organization and proved incapable of dealing with the political crisis at the state and grassroots levels. The government’s capacity to redress the situation was seriously impaired by the growing corruption in most areas of life and the widespread belief that the higher levels of the ruling party and administration were involved in it. The whiff of corruption touched even Indira Gandhi when her inexperienced younger son, Sanjay Gandhi, was given a licence to manufacture 50,000 Maruti cars a year.

A major new development was the growing detachment of three major social groups from Congress. While the poor continued to support it, though more passively, the middle classes, because of price rise and the stink of corruption, the rich peasantry, because of the threat of land reform, and the capitalists, because of the talk of socialism, nationalization of banks and coal mining and antimonopoly measures, turned against Congress and Indira Gandhi. Desperation of the Opposition parties also contributed to the undermining of the political system. Utterly disparate ideologically and programmatically, the only thing uniting these parties was anti-Congressism.

But they were in no position, either separately or in combination, to pose a political challenge to Congress, having been thoroughly defeated and downsized in the general elections of 1971 and state assembly elections of 1972. Unwilling to wait till the next elections to test their popularity they decided, irrespective of the consequences, to blindly support any group or movement in any form against the government at the Centre or in a state.

Naxalite Movement:

When the Naxal uprising began in 1967, the Indian government looked at it as a law and order problem. It did not analyze the causes of the movement and the extent of mobilization of people. Hence, it believed that it could and would put an end to it in a short span of time using force.  

The government chose to react based on the latter point and so launched a massive police operation that drove the movement underground and brought most of its leaders under police custody within four months of the uprising. The emergency in 1975 was a period of carte-blanche to the state authorities to crush the movement. It lead to the legitimization of violation of human rights by the state. But ironically, the movement arose again in a more violent form after the emergency. Police excesses like extra-judicial killings and extortion, misappropriation and harassment of the Naxal support base are public secrets, which governments have turned a blind eye to.

The Governments have enacted several laws to empower themselves to combat Naxals. The West Bengal Government enacted the West Bengal (Prevention of Violent Activities) Act 1970 to arm itself to repress the uprising. No particular national act has been enacted so far specifically to counter the Naxal movement, but various ‘anti-terror’ acts have been used to curb Naxal violence and too often , to target sympathizers by stamping them as Naxalites.

However, in-spite of the government’s muscle power and legal teeth, the Naxal movement has continued to spread its base because the rural poor and oppressed identify with its ideology. In other words, its inception, ideology, spread and sustenance are deeply rooted in socio-economic factors.

All the regions in which the Naxal movement took hold are ones with alarming levels of poverty. In Telangana, in the districts of Karimnagar, Adilabad and Warangal poverty was 95.8% while in the rest of the state it was between 50 and 60 per cent. After independence, the Indian government pursued agricultural policies focused on massively improving output without doing enough to check economic and social disparity. With the commercialization of agriculture, economic disparities widened. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

The attempt of the government to abolish zamindari created a class of rich peasants from the backward classes. With the spread of communist ideology, there was greater mobilization of the sharecroppers (bargadars) and landless laborers, who mostly belonged to the so called lower castes and tribes. This polarized the agrarian classes and created an environment of confrontation.

The Naxalbari upsurge was sparked by the fact that in-spite of the United Front being in power in the state, land reforms were still ineffectual. Its sustenance was fuelled by class and caste tensions and the sense of desperation due to the prevailing economic and social conditions. To the local administration and the police nothing seemed to be more natural than to see their role as defenders of the vested interests irrespective of the changes in law. More importantly, there was a conspicuous lack of political will1. Hence a socially biased bureaucracy also impeded progress and made the legal system ineffective as a tool for reform.

Communalism in india

Along with the rise of nationalism, communalism too made its appearance around the end of the nineteenth century and posed the biggest threat to the unity of the Indian people and the national movement. Before we discuss the emergence and growth of communalism, it is perhaps necessary to define the term.

Communalism is basically an ideology. Communal riots are only one consequence of the spread of this ideology. Communalism is the belief that because a group of people follow a particular religion they have, as a result, common secular, that is, social, political and economic interests.

It is the belief that in India religious groups like Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians form different and distinct communities; that all the followers of a religion share not only a commonality of religious interests but also common secular interests; that there is, and can be, no such thing as an Indian nation, but only a Hindu nation, or a Muslim nation and so on; that India can, therefore, only be a mere confederation of religious communities.

Inherent in communalism is the second notion that the social, cultural, economic and political interests of the followers of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of the followers of another religion.

Communalism emerged as a result of the emergence of new, modern politics based on the people and on popular participation and mobilisation. It made it necessary to have wider links and loyalties among the people and to form new identities. This process was bound to be difficult, gradual and complex. This process required the birth and spread of modern ideas of nation, class and cultural-linguistic identity.

Ayodhya Dispute

Hindus and Muslims have been at loggerheads for more than a century over the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Hindus claim the mosque was the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram, and that it was built after the destruction of a Hindu temple by a Muslim invader in the 16th Century. Muslims say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949, when some people placed the idols of Ram under the cover of darkness in the mosque. The worship of the idols began soon after.

Over the next four decades, Hindu and Muslim groups went to court over the control of the site and the right to offer prayers there. The dispute erupted in 1992 when a Hindu mob destroyed the mosque, and nearly 2,000 people were killed in subsequent religious riots across the country.

Allahabad High Court’s ruling in September 2010 addressed three questions. It said that the disputed spot was Ram’s birthplace, that the mosque was built after the demolition of a temple and that it was not built in accordance with the tenets of Islam. Following the decision, Hindus hope to see a temple built on the site, while Muslims are still demanding the reconstruction of the mosque.

In 2011 the Supreme Court suspended the ruling after Hindu and Muslim groups appealed against the 2010 verdict. The case has already languished in India’s famously sluggish legal system for so long that most of the original petitioners have died.

Anti Sikh Riots

The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, also known as the 1984 Sikh Massacre, was a series of pogroms against Sikhs in India by anti-Sikh mobs in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Official Indian government reports numbered about 2,800 killed across India, including 2,100 in Delhi. Independent sources estimate the number of deaths at about 8,000, including at least 3,000 in Delhi. The Central Bureau of Investigation, the main Indian investigative agency, believes that the violence was organised with support from the Delhi police and some central-government officials.      

Sporadic violence continued as the result of an armed Sikh separatist movement which sought independence. In June 1984, during Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack the Golden Temple and eliminate any insurgents; it had been occupied by Sikh separatists, who were reportedly stockpiling weapons. Later operations by Indian paramilitary forces were conducted to clear the separatists from the state of Punjab.

The violence in Delhi was triggered by the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31 October 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards who responded to her authorisation of the military operation. The Indian government reported 2,700 deaths in the ensuing chaos. In the aftermath of the riots, the government reported that 20,000 had fled the city; the People’s Union for Civil Liberties reported “at least” 1,000 displaced persons. The most-affected regions were the Sikh neighbourhoods of Delhi. Human rights organisations and newspapers across India believed that the massacre was organised.

Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat (2002)

The 2002 Gujarat riots, also known as the 2002 Gujarat violence and the Gujarat pogrom, was a three-day period of inter-communal violence in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Following the initial incident there were further outbreaks of violence in Ahmedabad for three months; statewide, there were further outbreaks of communal riots against the minority Muslim population for the next year. The burning of a train in Godhra on 27 February 2002, which caused the deaths of 58 Hindu pilgrims karsevaks returning from Ayodhya, is cited as having instigated the violence.

The Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, Narendra Modi, was accused of initiating and condoning the violence, as were police and government officials who allegedly directed the rioters and gave lists of Muslim-owned properties to them.

Regional Discontent and its Solution

Regionalism is the attachment towards one’s own region or state instead of to the entire country.

The people in India differ greatly from one another in respect of language and social habits. India is divided among states mainly on the basis of language. The Government of India, shortly after independence began reforming the provinces on the linguistic basis. It was expected that this would make each region or state a compact homogeneous whole, facilitate administration, and help its rapid progress, thus benefiting the country as a whole.

But the linguistic division of the country has already given rise to feelings that threaten the very unity of the motherland. Though the States of India are united under a common banner and common central government, we think of ourselves as natives of Bengal, Bihar, Assam,  Odisha, etc. first and Indian afterwards.At times, the feeling regionalism in India gets so strong that people of one state often starts treating the people of other states at foreigners. The Constitution of India lays down that every Indian shall enjoy equal rights in every part of the country.

Jammu Kashmir issue

Accession to India

The Accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India, signed by the Maharaja (erstwhile ruler of the State) on 26th October, 1947, was completely valid in terms of the Government of India Act (1935), Indian Independence Act (1947) and international law and was total and irrevocable. The Accession was also supported by the largest political party in the state, the National Conference. In the Indian Independence Act, there was no provision for any conditional accession. The Instrument of Accession executed by the Maharaja was the same as the ones executed by over 500 princely states in India.

There has been no complication in any of the other cases. There would have been none in this case either, except for Pakistan’s action in sending in tribal invaders first (in October 1947) and its own regular troops later (May 1948).

India made a reference to the United Nations on 1st January 1948 under Article 35 of the Charter, which permits any member state to bring any situation, whose continuance is likely to endanger international peace and security, to the attention of the Security Council. The intention behind this reference was to prevent a war between the two newly independent countries, which would have become increasingly likely if the tribal invaders assisted first indirectly and then actively by the Pakistan army had persisted with their actions against India in Kashmir.

The Government of India requested the Security Council “to put an end immediately to the giving of such assistance which was an act of aggression against India”.

Pakistan consistently misled the world regarding its involvement in Kashmir: (a) It claimed initially in 1947 that it was not in any way assisting the tribal invaders and was only not actively opposing their passage out of fear that they may turn against the local Pakistani population. It was, however, clearly established that these invaders were being looked after in Pakistan territory, fed, clothed, armed and otherwise equipped and transported to J&K with the help, direct and indirect, of Pakistani officials, both military & civil.

The first Governor General of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah claimed in a meeting with the then Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten that he was in a position “to call the whole thing off” subject to some of his demands being met. (b) Pakistan later claimed that its own forces were not involved directly in operations in Kashmir. But the UN Commission that visited India in July 1948 found Pakistani forces operating in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

The UNCIP Resolution of August 1948 documented the Pakistani aggression when it stated: “The presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir constitute a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council”. The UN sponsored mediator, Owen Dixon, was also constrained to record in his report of 15.9.1950 that “I was prepared to adopt the view that when the frontier of the State of J&K was crossed, on I believe 20 October 1947, by hostile elements, it was contrary to international law, and that when, in May 1948 as I believe, units of the regular Pakistan forces moved into the territory of the state that too was inconsistent with international law”.

Despite India’s completely legal and valid position on Jammu & Kashmir, in order to find a solution to the situation created by Pakistan’s aggression, India had accepted the option of holding a plebiscite in J&K. It had, however, been made clear by the Indian leaders that holding of such a plebiscite would be conditional upon Pakistan fulfilling Parts (I) & (II) of the UNCIP resolutions of 13 August, 1948, which inter alia, required that all forces regular and irregular under the control of both sides shall cease fire; Pakistan would withdraw its troops, it would endeavour to secure withdrawal of tribesmen and Pak nationals and India will withdraw bulk of its forces once the UNCIP confirms that the tribesmen and Pak nationals have withdrawn and Pak troops are being withdrawn.

India was also to ensure that the state government takes various measures to preserve peace, law and order. Indian acceptance of these UNCIP resolutions was also subject to several conditions and assurances given by UNCIP including that Pakistan would be excluded from all affairs of Jammu & Kashmir, “Azad J & K Government” would not be recognised, sovereignty of J & K government over the entire territory of the state shall not be brought into question, territory occupied by Pakistan shall not be consolidated, and Pakistani troops would be withdrawn completely. Pakistan never fulfilled these assurances.

The Government of Pakistan wrecked any possibility of plebiscite being conducted by not implementing part II of the resolution, perhaps because it was fully aware of what the result of such an exercise would be. The Pakistani troops, which were to withdraw from the state, did not do so. As a result normal conditions under which a plebiscite could be held were never created.

India had accepted these resolutions, subject to assurances, (mentioned in para 6) and in the hope of having the matter resolved quickly. Pakistan, however, wrecked the implementation of the resolutions at that time by not fulfilling the preconditions. As V.K. Menon stated in the Security Council (763 Meeting, 23 January, 1957): “if an offer is made and it is not accepted at the time it is made, it cannot be held for generations over the heads of those who made it”. With Pakistan’s intransigence, and passage of time, the offer lapsed and was overtaken by events. In fact, the representative of India (M.C. Chagla) had stated in the Security Council as far back as 1964 (1088 meeting, 5 February 1964): “I wish to make it clear on behalf of my Government that under no circumstances can we agree to the holding of a plebiscite in Kashmir”.

Since 1957 there have been no UN resolutions on the substantive aspects of the Jammu and Kashmir issue. Time and circumstances have not stood still. More than four and a half decades have lapsed since the original proposals were made as a possible solution. They can no longer be considered valid.

Over fifty years after Partition, the ground situation in the state to which the resolutions referred to has considerably changed. Pakistan unilaterally ceded a part of the state to China in 1963. There has been a demographic change on the Pakistani side with generations of non-Kashmiris allowed to take residence in the parts of J&K occupied by Pakistan. If the resolutions had begun to lose relevance in 1957, they have far less relevance now.

The above position is increasingly being acknowledged by the world today. Highlighting the fact that the UNCIP resolutions did not come under Chapter VII, and were therefore not self enforcing, the UN Secretary General stated at a press conference in Islamabad in March 2001, that “the two parties discussing these issues and finding a peaceful way out, is the route I recommend”.

It is now widely acknowledged that bilateral dialogue, in accordance with the Simla Agreement, reiterated in the Lahore Declaration, is the only way to address all bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, including the issue of J&K.

As in the UNSC, during these bilateral discussions, Pakistan has sought parity with India in terms of locus standi in Kashmir. This is untenable since the erstwhile ruler of J&K had duly acceded to India, the largest popular party had endorsed the Accession, and the people had subsequently ratified the earlier decisions. Pakistan, as the aggressor could not have parity with India, with which the accession of Jammu and Kashmir was complete and final.

For meaningful bilateral negotiations, Pakistan must create the right climate by stopping its support to terrorism. There must be tangible and credible evidence of this on the ground. The Simla Agreement reiterated in the Lahore Declaration expressly forbids hostile propaganda, interference in internal Affairs and encouragement of any acts detrimental to maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations. It also enjoins respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Pakistan is violating all these provisions.

Punjab Issue

During the 1980s, Punjab was engulfed by a separatist movement which was transformed into a campaign of terror and which has been aptly described by some as a low-intensity war and a dangerous crisis for the Indian nation.

The genesis of the problem lay in the growth of communalism in Punjab in the course of the twentieth century and, in particular, since 1947, and which erupted into extremism, separatism and terrorism after 1980. Before 1947, communalism in Punjab was a triad with Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communalisms, opposing one another, and the latter two often joining forces against the first. After August 1947, Muslim communalism having disappeared from the Punjab, Hindu and Sikh communalisms were pitted against each other.

Interestingly, no evidence other than that of the denial of the Punjabi Suba was offered for this long list of grievances. The only concrete allegation regarding discrimination against Sikhs in government service was found to be baseless by a commission appointed by Nehru in 1961. The political scientist Baldev Raj Nayar was to point out in 1966 that though Sikhs ‘are less than 2 per cent of the Indian population, they constitute about 20 per cent of the Indian army, have double their proportionate share in the Indian administrative services, and that in the Punjab their share in the services, as also in the legislature, the cabinet, and the Congress Party organisation, is higher than their proportion in the population (of the state)’.

Hindu communalism was also very active in Punjab during the Nehru years. Though not as strident or wedded to religion as Sikh communalism, it continuously acted as a counter-point to the latter.

Nehru, being very sensitive to the feelings of the minorities, tried to conciliate the Akalis by accommodating, as far as possible, their secular demands. This approach led him to sign pacts with the Akali Dal twice in 1948 and 1956 when it agreed to shed its communal character. The accommodative strategy failed, however, to stem the growth of communalism in Punjab. New leaders soon emerged and resurrected the Akali Dal on a more extreme ideological and political basis, formulating and putting forward new lists of demands and grievances. Simultaneously, the Congress accommodation of the Akalis strengthened Hindu communal forces.

Two major issues, which were in themselves secular but were communalized by Sikh and Hindu communalists, dominated Punjab politics till 1966. The first issue was that of state language: to decide what was to be the language of administration and schooling in bilingual Punjab. The Hindu communalists wanted this status for Hindi and the Sikh communalists for Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script. The government tried to resolve the problem by dividing Punjab into two—Punjabi and Hindi—linguistic zones. But the Hindu communalists opposed the decisions to make the study of Punjabi, along with Hindi, compulsory in all schools and Punjabi being made the only official language for district administration in the Punjabi linguistic zone.

Even more contentious was the problem of the script for Punjabi. Traditionally, for centuries, Punjabi had been written in Urdu, Gurmukhi and Devanagari (Hindi) scripts. However, dissociating Punjabi from its common cultural background, the Akalis demanded that Gurmukhi alone should be used as the script for Punjabi. The Hindu communal organizations insisted on Devanagari also being used along with Gurmukhi. The issue was given a strong communal complexion by both the Sikh and Hindu communalists.

The second issue—that of the Punjabi Suba—proved to be more emotive and divisive. After the SRC was set up in 1955, the Akali Dal, the CPI, many Congressmen and Punjabi intellectuals put before it a demand for the reorganization of the state on linguistic lines, which would lead to the creation of Punjabi-speaking Punjab and Hindi-speaking Haryana. The SRC rejected the demand on the grounds that there was not much difference between Hindi and Punjabi and that the minimum measure of agreement necessary for making a change did not exist among the people of Punjab. After a great deal of haggling, an agreement was arrived at in 1956 between the Akali Dal and the Government of India leading to the merger of Punjab and Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).

Terrorism made its appearance in Punjab in 1981 as a partial culmination of communal politics since 1947 and the policy of appeasement towards communalism followed by the Punjab Congress leadership, especially since the early 1970s. The initiator of terrorism was Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who emerged in the late 1970s as a strong campaigner of Sikh orthodoxy. In this campaign he received the tacit support of the Punjab Congress led by Giani Zail Singh, who hoped to use him to undercut the Akalis. He was, however, to soon become a Frankenstein and turn against his erstwhile patrons.

Led by Bhindranwale, the Khalistanis, the extremists, the militants, the terrorists—by whatever name they may be called— hoped to gradually transform terrorism into a general insurgency and an armed uprising. They were fighting for political and ideological hegemony over the people of Punjab. All their activities were designed to prove that the Indian state was not capable of ruling in Punjab and, therefore, separation from India was a realizable objective.

Their bullying of the Press and the judiciary, their killing of police officials (and their families) and those suspected of cooperating with the police and administration, their successful diktats to administrators to do their bidding, their collection of ‘parallel taxes’, their silencing of intellectuals and political workers, their coercion of the peasants in giving them shelter, and their random killings—all were designed not only to facilitate their activities but also to convince the people of Punjab that they had the capacity to challenge the Indian state and that they were the rulers of tomorrow. To achieve this objective, they made no distinction between Sikhs and Hindus. Nearly 55 per cent of those killed from 1981 to 3 June 1984 were Sikhs.

Problems with North-East Region

The Northeast region of India comprising of eight states – Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim– a region poorly connected to the Indian mainland by a small corridor and surrounded by many countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China, is the setting for a multitude of conflict that undermines the idea of India as a prosperous and functioning democracy.

For instance, the Naga insurgence, which started in the 1950s, known as the mother of the Northeast insurgencies, is one of the oldest unresolved armed conflicts in the world. In total, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Tripura have witnessed scales of conflict that could, at least between 1990 and 2000, be characterised as low intensity conflicts. However, it must also be mentioned that internal conflicts have been a permanent feature of the Asian political landscape since 1945, of which post-colonial India is no exception. 

Currently, most of the states in the region are affected by some form of conflict, expect for Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim in which the situation is at the moment relatively stable. The reasons for the respective conflicts are wide ranging from separatist movements, to inter-community, communal and inter-ethnic conflicts.

To gain a holistic understanding of the problem that has historical and contemporary dimensions, it is important to assess and understand the various facets of the problem that interact with each other.

The historical connections among the traditional tribes in the Northeast are largely of Tibeto-Burman/Mongoloid stock and closer to Southeast Asia than to South Asia. It is ethnically, linguistically and culturally very distinct from the other states of India. Though cultural and ethnic diversity per say are not causes for conflict, but one of the major problem areas is that the Northeast is territorially organized in such a manner that ethnic and cultural specificities were ignored during the process of delineation of state boundaries in the 1950s, giving rise to discontentment and assertion of one’s identity. Whereas,the colonial rulers took nearly a century to annex the entire region, and administered the hills as a loose ‘frontier area’, with the result, that large parts of the northeastern hill areas never came in touch with the principle of a central administration before.

Hence, their allegiance to the newly formed Indian nation-state was lacking from the beginning – accentuated by the creation of East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh) – which meant the loss of a major chunk of the physical connection between mainland India and Northeast India. Interestingly, 99 percent of the Northeast’s boundaries is international and only one percent is domestic boundary.

The Indian government’s past and ongoing processes of national integration, state-building and democratic consolidation have further aggravated the conflict scenario in the region. For instance, the eight states comprising the Northeast is populated by nearly 40 million inhabitants who vary in language, race, tribe, caste, religion, and regional heritage. Therefore, most often, the clubbing of all these states under the tag of ‘northeast’ has tended to have a homogenizing effect with its own set of implications for policy formulation and implementation; not to mention local aversion to such a construct.

The politico-administrative arrangements made by the Centre have also been lacking. For instance, the introduction of the Sixth Schedule Autonomous Councils (currently there are ten such Councils in the region and many more demanding such status) ended up creating multiple power centers instead of bringing in a genuine process of democratization or autonomy in the region. Moreover, Para 12 (A) of the Sixth Schedule clearly states that, whenever there is a conflict of interest between the District Councils and the state legislature, the latter would prevail. It is even alleged that it is “a mere platform for aspiring politicians who nurture ambitions to contest assembly polls in the future”.

The AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act) for instance, shows the inability and reluctance of the government to solve the conflict with adequate political measures. The AFSPA was passed on 18 August, 1958, as a short-term measure to allow deployment of the army to counter an armed separatist movement in the Naga Hills, has been in place for the last five decades and was extended to all the seven states of the Northeast region in 1972 (with the exception of Mizoram).

It was part of a bundle of provisions, passed by the central government, to retain control over the Naga areas, in which the Naga National Council (NNC) demanded further autonomous rights. The AFSPA became a powerful measure for the central and the state government to act against actors challenging the political and territorial integrity of India. As a result, the Indian army for the first time since its independence was deployed to manage an internal conflict. But, instead of resolving the problem, it led to an ongoing escalation of the conflict by bringing it on a military level.

The regular violations of human rights has led to a radicalization and militarization of the region and weakened also the supporters of a political solution.

Though the conflict in the region is mired with complex political-economic issues, such as, struggle over natural resources, migration related issues, displacement, social exclusion, and so on, according to Dr Clemens Spiess, “the politics of identity lie at the heart of the bigger part of the current conflict constellations in the Northeast”.

India’s ‘look east policy’ which was formulated in 1991 on the heels of India’s economic liberalization, was a foreign economic policy initiative towards South East Asia. The Northeast which is geographically situated between mainland India and Southeast Asia is supposed to have had immense developmental benefits as a result of this initiative and hence, have synergy effects on reducing poverty in the region; as well as on insurgency and armed conflict. The region’s diverse natural resources, rich bio-diversity and enormous hydro-electricity potential, among others, could also help to overcome the widespread feeling of backwardness among the inhabitants of the Northeast.

But there is also increasing argument made that the impact of increased introduction of market imperatives in the traditional society of the region would have irreversible impact on the people’s culture and life and it would also lead to increased settlement of mainland people to the northeast. Thereby it is of high importance, that the announced opening will take place in a regulated frame and through cooperation with the local people, otherwise it could aggravate the tensions between the center and the region.

The government has also faced criticism in the way in which it has been looking at the Northeast as an issue of territorial security rather than development per say. The fear of a growing Chinese influence, as well as, increasing cross-border terrorism (Myanmar, Bangladesh) in the region are some of the factors cited as reasons for limiting India in its attempt to open the region.

Reorganization of the States

The integration and merger of princely states was purely ad hoc arrangement and there was need for reorganization of states on a permanent basis on account of the haphazard growth of provinces, disparity between various states and multilingual nature of the states.

In 1948, the government appointed commission under S K Dhar, a judge of the Allahabad High Court, to examine the case for the reorganization of states on the linguistic basis. Admitting the importance of the reorganization of states on a linguistic basis, the commission, however, attached more importance to historical, geographical and economic considerations. It favoured reorganization on the basis of administrative convenience rather than linguistic considerations.

In December, 1948, Congress appointed a committee under Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabh bhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya (known as the JVP Committee) to examine the issue afresh. The committee, in a report submitted in April, 1949, dismissed the idea of reorganization on a linguistic basis. However the committee stated that the problem may be re-examined in the light of public demand.

In 1953, the government was forced to create a separate state of Andhra Pradesh for Telugu-speaking people following the long-drawn agitation and death of Potti Sriramulu after a hunger strike for 56 days. Thus, the first linguistic state of Andhra Pradesh was created under pressure. This led to the demand for creation of states on linguistic basis from other parts of country and on December 22, 1953, Jawaharlal Nehru announced the appointment of a commission under Fazl Ali to consider this demand. The other two members of the commission were K M Panikkar and HN Kunzru.

The commission submitted its report after taking into account the wishes and claims of people in different regions. It recommended the reorganization of the whole country into sixteen states and three centrally administered areas. However, the government did not accept these recommendations in toto.

In 1960, as a result of agitation and violence, the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created by bifurcating the state of Bombay. With this the strength of the Indian states rose to 15.

In 1963, the state of Nagaland was formed to placate the Nagas. However, before providing it the status of a full-fledged state, it was placed under the control of the Governor of Assam in 1961. With this the strength of the Indian states rose to 16.

After the acquisition of Chandernagore, Mahe, Yaman and Karekal from France, and the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu from the Portuguese, these were either merged with the neighbouring states or given the status of union territories.

In 1966, the Parliament passed the Punjab Reorganization Act after an agitation for the formation of Punjabi Subha. This step was taken on the recommendation of the Shah Commission appointed in April, 1966. As a result of this act, the Punjabi-speaking areas were constituted into the state of Haryana and the hilly areas were merged with the adjoining Union Territory of Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was made a Union Territory and was to serve as a common capital of Punjab and Haryana. The two states were also to have a common High Court, common university and joint arrangement for the management of the major components of the existing irrigation and power system. With the division of Punjab, the strength of states rose to 17.

In 1969, the state of Meghalaya was created out of the state of Assam. Initially, the state was given autonomous status within Assam, but subsequently it was made a full-fledged state. This raised the strength of Indian states to 18.

In 1971, with the elevation of the union territory of Himachal Pradesh to the status of a state, the strength of Indian states rose to 19 and then to 21 with the conversion of the Union Territories of Tripura and Manipur into states. In 1975, Sikkim was admitted as a state of the Indian Union. Initially, Sikkim was given the status of an associate state but was subsequently made a full-fledged state.

In 1986 it was decided to give Mizoram, a Union Territory of India, the status of a full-fledged state. However, it actually acquired the status of a state in February 1987 and became the 23rd state of the Indian Union. In February 1987 Arunachal Pradesh, another Union Territory of India, was also given the status of a state and became the twenty-fourth state of the Indian Union.

The demand for Telangana raised issues of inter/intra-State regional inequalities and their associated forms of domination and subordination over people belonging to different regional and subregional locations. The feudal forms of domination and atrocities perpetrated over the marginalised sections, especially tribals and peasants, continue to obstruct equitable resources and funds distribution. Unless the government of the day is serious about ameliorating these inequalities, its various schemes and programmes of social welfare and empowerment of the disadvantaged sections will remain incomplete in realising the “Telangana Sentiment”.

Telangana’s historic struggle has informed how the matrix of socio-economic inequalities can produce new sites of public sphere and of their potential to transform democratic spaces. It is in this context that the Telangana State must show the way not simply for “change” but for “transformation”; not just for the power of politics but for social justice and equality moving beyond mere identity politics. The battle over the appropriation of symbols and icons of the Telangana struggle must not be reduced to a sheer war of words and images among competing groups and political parties.

The symbolic politics must not be divorced from the everydayness of the life struggles of peasants, tribals and other deprived sections. The political iconographies of the Telangana struggle must provide newer vocabularies to write new scripts and registers of development. They must ensure the legible language of basic human rights and entitlements for the disadvantaged sections. This requires that the State must ensure the fair distribution of resources and opportunities of work among people regardless of their native origins or places of residence.

Formation of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh

In the fall 2000, the Government of India, pursuant to legislation passed by Parliament during the summer, created three new states, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand, reconstituting Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, respectively. Both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress party supported the formation of the states. The basis for creating the new states is socio-political and not linguistic. With the new states, the Indian Union now has 28 states.

Madhya Pradesh was reorganized with the creation of Chhattisgarh, constituting the seven eastern districts of the old state. The division here is rooted in caste distinctiveness, with upper peasant Brahmins and Kurmis leading the movement for a separate state. Rich in mineral wealth and an important rice-producer, Chhattisgarh has resented its disproportionate contribution in revenues to any return it has received from the state. The new state has a substantial tribal population, but the Chhattisgarh movement was not driven by tribal demands, as was the creation of Jharkhand.

The formation of Uttaranchal, carved from Uttar Pradesh, fulfilled long-voiced demands by the people of the Kumoan and Garhwal hills of northwestern U.P. for a separate state based on cultural, social (caste), and economic distinctiveness. The hill districts are heavily Brahmin, with comparatively few of the “backward castes” that dominate the most of Uttar Pradesh. The eleven hill districts and two plains districts that form the new state had long-felt neglected by the U.P. state government.

The formation of Jharkhand, constituting the 18 districts of southern Bihar, was the fulfillment of a fifty-year struggle for creation of a heavily tribal state. The boundaries of the new state were less extensive than the originally-conceived Jharkhand, embracing tribal hill areas of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and West Bengal, in addition to southern Bihar. The new state took 35 percent of the population of Bihar–India’s second most populous state–but, with its coal mines and steel mills, 65 percent of the state’s revenue.

Contemporary Developments

Politics of Coalition in India

Coalition politics now characterize the Indian polity. There is no party at the all-India level that can claim to enjoy a full majority. The 1967 elections – the fourth in the series – saw for the first time a real challenge to the Congress party. While it gained the majority in the Lok Sabha, it lost in several state assemblies. That was the first time when the phenomenon of tandem voting got a jolt. People voted differently for the Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

It must be noted that even the Congress party never ever got more than 47.78 per cent votes in any Lok Sabha election, including the first one held in 1952. And this percentage came down to 40.73 in 1967. Even with less than 50 per cent support, the Congress party was able to garner more than 68 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha until 1967, when it won only 279 of the 521 seats, bringing down the percentage of seats to 53 per cent.

1967 can be regarded as a real turning point in the history of Indian polity, as this was when the hegemony of the ruling party was challenged. Soon after this election, the Congress party split in 1969. The fifth elections were held in 1971, and the Congress party again registered a massive victory. This was attributed to the so-called ‘Indira wave’. The 1969 split in the Congress discredited the old guard leaders – known as the syndicate – and people got enchanted with the slogan of Garibi Hatao.

The quick downfall of the non-Congress governments in many states went in favor of the Congress party, impressing upon the electorate that there was no viable alternative to the Congress.

With the death of Indira Gandhi, the situation changed. While the sympathy vote made her son – Rajiv Gandhi – the prime minister, internal factions soon led to his downfall. It was during this period that the politics of coalition replaced the one-party dominant system, although the seeds for it were sown during Indira Gandhi’s time.

A government formed by a post-election alliance cannot rightfully claim to have received its mandate from the people; and it always feels insecure lest any of its alliance partners withdraw support and join some other alliance. Such a situation of uncertainty forces the majority group within the ruling alliance to compromise with its principles, and offer concessions to its alliance partners. Leaders with doubtful credentials, even with criminal records, or known to be corrupt, get accommodated in the cabinet as ministers in the process of granting concessions.

1977 Elections

On 18 January 1977, Indira Gandhi suddenly announced that elections to Lok Sabha would be held in March. She also simultaneously released political prisoners, removed press censorship and other restrictions on political activity such as holding of public meetings. Political parties were allowed to campaign freely. The elections were held on 16 March in a free and fair atmosphere, and when the results came in it was clear that Congress had been thoroughly defeated. Both Mrs Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi lost their seats.

Mrs Gandhi issued a statement accepting the verdict of the people with respect and stepped down from her post to allow Morarji Desai to take charge.

Whatever the character of the JP Movement or of the Emergency regime, there is no doubt that the decision of Mrs. Gandhi to hold genuinely free elections, and her defeat and the Opposition’s victory that followed were a remarkable achievement of Indian democracy. The years 1975-77 has been described as the years of the ‘test of democracy’ there is no doubt that the Indian people passed the test with distinction if not full marks.

The opposition front made the Emergency and its excesses, especially forced sterlizations and the restriction of civil liberties, the major issues of its election campaign. The people also treated the elections as a referendum on the Emergency. With the popular upsurge in favour of them, the Janata Party and its allies were victorious with 330 out of 542 seats. Congress trailed far behind with only 154 seats, with CPI its ally getting 7 and the AIADMK 21 seats. Congress was virtually wiped out in North India—it won only 2 out of 234 seats in seven northern states.

Both Indira Gandhi and Sanjay were defeated. The electoral verdict was, however, mixed in western India. Surprisingly in the South, where the Emergency had been less vigorous, and the pro-poor measures of the Twenty-Point Programme better implemented. Congress improved its performance, winning 92 seats in place of 70 in 1971. Janata won only 6 seats in the four southern states. The Congress for Democracy merged with Janata Party immediately after the elections.

There was a near-crisis over the issue of prime ministership between the three aspirants, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram. The matter was referred to the senior leaders, Jayaprakash Narayan and J.B. Kripalani, who ruled in favour of the 81-year-old Desai, who was sworn in as prime minister on 23 March.

Mandal Commission

The spirit behind the term ‘backward classes’ is that the middle strata of the people have suffered and remained ignored. The Janata Party, in its election manifesto in 1977, called for an end to caste inequalities. It promised a “policy of special treatment” in favour of the weaker sections of Indian society.

The party promised to reserve between 25 and 33 per cent of all appointments to government services and educational opportunities for the backward classes. The Government of India, headed by the Janata Party, appointed a Backward Classes Commission under the chair­manship of B.P. Mandal, Member of Parliament, with a view to get definite recommendations by which it could implement its election promises.

  1. To determine the criteria for defining the socially and educa­tionally backward classes;
  2. To recommend steps to be taken for the advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens so identified;
  3. To examine the desirability or otherwise of making provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of such backward classes of citizens which are not adequately repre­sented in the services of both the central and the state governments/union territory administrations; and
  4. To present a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper. The Commission observed that backwardness was both social and educational. Caste was also a class of people.

The Commission recommended a reservation of 27 per cent of jobs and educational facilities for this 52 per cent population. It may be stated here that no caste-based census has been conducted after 1931 census. Therefore, no definite data is available about the OBCs.

The Commission suggested the following steps:

  1. The reservation of 27 per cent jobs be made for those who do not qualify on the basis of merit.
  2. The reservation of 27 per cent be made for promotions at all levels.

3 The reserved quota, if unfilled, should be carried forward for a period of three years and de-reserved thereafter.

  1. Age relaxation for the backward classes should be the same as it is in the case of the SCs and the STs
  2. A roster system should be prepared for the backward classes on the pattern of the one done for the SCs and the STs.
  3. The principle of reservation should be made applicable to all the public sector undertakings, banks, private undertakings receiving grants from the central and state governments, universities and colleges.
  4. The government should make the necessary legal provisions for implementing these recommendations. The Commission recommended the implementation of an intensive and time-bound programme for adult education, particu­larly for the backward classes, and the setting up of residential schools for the backward class students.

New Economic Policy 1991

The main characteristics of new Economic Policy 1991 are:

  1. Delicencing. Only six industries were kept under Licencing scheme.
  2. Entry to Private Sector. The role of public sector was limited only to four industries; rest all the industries were opened for private sector also.
  3. Disinvestment. Disinvestment was carried out in many public sector enterprises.
  4. Liberalisation of Foreign Policy. The limit of foreign equity was raised to 100% in many activities, i.e., NRI and foreign investors were permitted to invest in Indian companies.
  5. Liberalisation in Technical Area. Automatic permission was given to Indian companies for signing technology agreements with foreign companies.
  6. Setting up of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). This board was set up to promote and bring foreign investment in India.
  7. Setting up of Small Scale Industries. Various benefits were offered to small scale industries.

Three Major Components of New Economic Policy:

There are three major components or elements of new economic policy- Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalisation.

  1. Liberalisation: Liberalisation refers to end of licence, quota and many more restrictions and controls which were put on industries before 1991. Indian companies got liberalisation in the following way:

(a) Abolition of licence except in few.

(b) No restriction on expansion or contraction of business activities.

(c) Freedom in fixing prices.

  1. d) Liberalisation in import and export.

(e) Easy and simplifying the procedure to attract foreign capital in India.

(f) Freedom in movement of goods and services

(g) Freedom in fixing the prices of goods and services.

  1. Privatisation:

Privatisation refers to giving greater role to private sector and reducing the role of public sector. To execute policy of privatisation government took the following steps:

(a) Disinvestment of public sector, i.e., transfer of public sector enterprise to private sector

(b) Setting up of Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). This board was set up to revive sick units in public sector enterprises suffering loss.

(c) Dilution of Stake of the Government. If in the process of disinvestments private sector acquires more than 51% shares then it results in transfer of ownership and management to the private sector.

  1. Globalisation:

It refers to integration of various economies of world. Till 1991 Indian government was following strict policy in regard to import and foreign investment in regard to licensing of imports, tariff, restrictions, etc. but after new policy government adopted policy of globalisation by taking following measures:

(i) Import Liberalisation. Government removed many restrictions from import of capital goods.

(ii) Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) was replaced by Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)

(iii) Rationalisation of Tariff structure

(iv) Abolition of Export duty.

(v) Reduction of Import duty.

As a result of globalisation physical boundaries and political boundaries remained no barriers for business enterprise. Whole world becomes a global village.

Globalisation involves greater interaction and interdependence among the various nations of global economy.

Era of ICT [Information and Communication Technology]

In the 1990s, the industry started off with an export of nearly $100 million with around 5,000 employees. Now it is an industry that thrives globally and India’s IT exports are now around $70 billion with 2.8 million employees working in this sector. The IT sector is one of the top two industries in the country today.

India’s IT industry is expected to grow at a rate of 12 – 14% as per a report by India’s software industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM.) This clearly shows that information technology is a sector which will likely be one of the emerging markets in the days to come as India’s economy requires more hardware, software and other IT services. In a NASSCOM-McKinsey report, India’s position in the global offshore IT industry is based on five factors – abundant talent, creation of urban infrastructure, operational excellence, conducive business environment and finally, continued growth in the domestic IT sector.

Popular Movements

Chipko movement

In the 1970s, an organized resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and came to be known as the Chipko movement. The name of the movement comes from the word ’embrace’, as the villagers hugged the trees, and prevented the contractors’ from felling them.

In the 20th century, it began in the hills where the forests are the main source of livelihood, since agricultural activities cannot be carried out easily. The Chipko movement of 1973 was one of the most famous among these. The first Chipko action took place spontaneously in April 1973 in the village of Mandal in the upper Alakananda valley and over the next five years spread to many districts of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh. It was sparked off by the government’s decision to allot a plot of forest area in the Alaknanda valley to a sports goods company. This angered the villagers because their similar demand to use wood for making agricultural tools had been earlier denied.

With encouragement from a local NGO (non-governmental organization), DGSS (Dasoli Gram Swarajya Sangh), the women of the area, under the leadership of an activist, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, went into the forest and formed a circle around the trees preventing the men from cutting them down.

The success achieved by this protest led to similar protests in other parts of the country. From their origins as a spontaneous protest against logging abuses in Uttar Pradesh in the Himalayas, supporters of the Chipko movement, mainly village women, have successfully banned the felling of trees in a number of regions and influenced natural resource policy in India. Dhoom Singh Negi, Bachni Devi and many other village women, were the first to save trees by hugging them. They coined the slogan: ‘What do the forests bear? Soil, water and pure air’. The success of the Chipko movement in the hills saved thousands of trees from being felled.

Some other persons have also been involved in this movement and have given it proper direction. Mr Sunderlal Bahuguna, a Gandhian activist and philosopher, whose appeal to Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, resulted in the green-felling ban. Mr Bahuguna coined the Chipko slogan: ‘ecology is permanent economy’. Mr Chandi Prasad Bhatt, is another leader of the Chipko movement. He encouraged the development of local industries based on the conservation and sustainable use of forest wealth for local benefit. Mr Ghanasyam Raturi, the Chipko poet, whose songs echo throughout the Himalayas of Uttar Pradesh, wrote a poem describing the method of embracing the trees to save them from felling:

The Chipko protests in Uttar Pradesh achieved a major victory in 1980 with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests of that state by the order of Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Since then, the movement has spread to many states in the country. In addition to the 15-year ban in Uttar Pradesh, the movement has stopped felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas and has generated pressure for a natural resource policy that is more sensitive to people’s needs and ecological requirements. 

Narmada Bachao Andolan

Narmada Bachao Andolan is the most powerful mass movement, started in 1985, against the construction of huge dam on the Narmada river. Narmada is the India’s largest west flowing river, which supports a large variety of people with distinguished culture and tradition ranging from the indigenous (tribal) people inhabited in the jungles here to the large number of rural population. The proposed Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada Sagar will displace more than 250,000 people.

The big fight is over the resettlement or the rehabilitation of these people. The two proposals are already under construction, supported by US$550 million loan by the World Bank. There are plans to build over 3000 big and small dams along the river. 

It is a multi crore project that will generate big revenue for the government. The Narmada Valley Development plan is the the most promised and most challenging plan in the history of India. The proponents are of the view that it will produce 1450 MW of electricity and pure drinking water to 40 million people covering thousand of villages and towns. Some of the dams have been already been completed such as Tawa and Bargi Dams.

But the opponents say that this hydro project will devastate human lives and bio diversity by destroying thousands of acres of forests and agricultural land. On the other hand it will overall deprive thousands of people of their livelihood. They believe that the water and energy could be provided to the people through alternative technological means that would be ecologically beneficial.

Led by one of the prominent leader Medha Patkar, it has now been turned into the International protest, gaining support from NGO’S all around the globe. Protestors are agitating the issue through the mass media, hunger strikes, massive marches, rallies and the through the on screen of several documentary films. Although they have been protesting peacefully, but they been harassed, arrested and beaten up by the police several times. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has been pressurizing the World Bank to withdraw its loan from the project through media. 

The strong protests through out the country not only made impact on the local people but has also influenced the several famous celebrities like film star Aamir Khan, who has made open efforts to support Narmada Bachao Andolan. He said he only want that those who have been rendered homeless should be given a roof. He pleaded to the common people to take part in the moment and come up with the best possible solutions.

Silent Valley Movement

Long before the Internet era, a remarkable people’s movement saved a pristine moist evergreen forest in Kerala’s Palakkad District from being destroyed by a hydroelectric project. The battle for the now famous Silent Valley raged for over ten years and involved thousands of people who did not even live in the vicinity of the area that was to be destroyed. Although the campaign did not have any centralized planning, it was highly effective. The sustained pressure exerted on the government by citizens using every possible means available at the time – letters to the editors of newspapers, seminars, widespread awareness programmes, and finally petitions and appeals in court and other high offices – proved ultimately successful. In 1986 Silent Valley was declared a National Park, a striking testimony to the power of peoples’ action. The lessons from this inspiring and hard-fought campaign are still relevant today. 

Dalit Movement

The main issues around which most of the Dalit movements have been centered in the colonial and post colonial periods are confined to the problem of untouchability.They launched movements for maintaining or increasing reservations in political offices, government jobs and welfare programmes.

In the 1990s with the increased political participation in elections and success of Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh some scholars consider their mobilization as a new political movement of the dalits.

Dayanand Sarawati, the founder of Arya Samaj, believed that the caste system was a political institution created by the rulers for the common good of society and not a natural or religious distinction. Satish Kumar Sharma’s book Social Movements and Social Change is the only full-fledged study which examines the relationship between the Arya Samaj and the untouchables. The study is confined to Punjab only but some of the observations are relevant for other part of the country as well. Arya Samaj was against the political movements of the untouchables. It went against any move initiated by the untouchables for their solidarity and integration.

A section of untouchables who could improve their economic condition either by abandoning or continuing their traditional occupations launched struggles for higher status in the caste hierarchy. They followed Sanskritic norms and rituals. They tried to justify their claim to a higher social status in the caste hierarchy by inventing suitable mythologies.

A major anti-touchability movement was launched by Dr Ambedkar in the 1920s in Maharashtra. He saw the opportunity and possibility of a advancement for the untouchables through the use of political means to achieve social and economic equality with the highest classes in modern society. He organized the independent labour party on secular lines for protecting the interests of the laboring classes. It was dominated by Mahars.

The Dalits demanded a separate electorate in the 1930s which led to a conflict between Ambedkar and Gandhi. In the early 1930s Ambedkar concluded that the only way of improving the status of the untouchables was to renounce the Hindu religion. He found that Buddhism was appropriate as an alternative religion for the untouchables. He preferred Buddhism because it was an indigenous Indian religion of equality; a religion which was anti-caste and Anti Brahmin. Ambedkar and his followers were converted to Buddhism in 1956.

The movement for conversion to Buddhism has spread dalit consciousness irrespective of whether dalits became Buddhist or not. The Dalits of Maharashtra launched the Dalit Panther Movement in the early 1970s.Initially it was confined to the urban areas of Maharashtra not it spread to Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and other states.

Assertion for dalit identity has almost become a central issue of dalit movement. This involves local level collective action against discrimination and atrocities. Statues of Dr Ambedkar are found not only in urban dalit localities but also in many villages where their number is fairly large. Dalits contribute to installing Ambedkar statues in their neighbourhood.They struggle to get a piece of land from local authorities to install the statue. The statues and photos of Dr Ambedkar are an expression of dalit consciousness and their assertion for identity.

There are several local movements in which Dalits en mass migrate from their villages protesting against discrimination and atrocities. In the 1980s there were five such incidents. In protest against torture and beating the dalits of the village Sambarda undertook hijarat en mass migration like refugees from their native village and camped in the open before the district collector office for 131 days in 1989.Their demand was for alternative settlement where their life and dignity will be secured. They wanted a concrete solution: alternative land to protect their dignity. They succeeded in their mission against all odds and collusion between the ruling elite and vested interests. The village level movements succeeded in mobilizing dalits of different parts of Gujarat.

New farmer’s movement

On October 25, 1988, in Rajpath in Delhi, half-a-million farmers from western Uttar Pradesh (UP) descended upon the Boat Club lawns in the ceremonial boulevard of the Republic of India. What followed was an unprecedented week-long siege. Never before had the country’s power elite been forced into this kind of arm’s length engagement — literally — with people filling the entire stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate, with their tractors, trolleys, carts, charpoys, hookahs and cooking angithis.

October 1988 marked the pinnacle of Mahendra Singh Tikait’s journey as a farmer leader, which began with a four-day dharna at the Karmukheri power station in January 1987, against the UP Government’s move to hike electricity tariffs by a third. A year later came the 24-day gherao of the Meerut Commissionerate (for an increase in sugarcane prices to Rs. 35/quintal and waiver of six months’ power bills) and, then, the 110-day Rajabpur Satyagraha in March-June (over police firing on ryots during the Meerut agitation).

The Boat Club Panchayat, in a sense, was the high noon for not just Tikait, but also for farmers’ movements in India. The 1980s saw a host of them emerge — from Tikait’s Bharatiya Kisan Union to Sharad Joshi’s Shetkari Sanghatana and M.D. Nanjundaswamy’s Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha.

But over the subsequent decade, they had all fizzled out or become pale shadows of their past. Tikait was reduced to a political non-entity much before he passed away last Sunday. His son, Rakesh, fought the 2007 UP assembly elections from Khatauli with Congress support — only to finish a distant sixth.

The immediate aftermath of partition and independence saw a steadily increasing sense of betrayal on the part of workers and peasant, communists and socialists. The delays of the Congress in the fulfillment of its promises of speedy and effective land redistribution infused the kisan sabhas with a new spirit of opposition at a time when the impact of the Chinese revolution was being felt by Indian communists, and there were sharecroppers, rallies, strikes and demonstrations, led by the kisan sahbas, criticizing government measures as insufficient and demanding land reforms.

Most of these agitations were suppressed by the government through the arrest of peasant leaders, but this was not possible in the case of one of the earliest and most militant sharecropper’s movements, the 1948-50 telangana movement in Andhra. Under the leadership of maoist- influenced members of the CPI, some two thousand five hundred villages in telangana district were ‘liberated sharecroppers’ debts were cancelled, rent payments were suspended and land redistributed. In September, 1948, Indian troops took over the state, arresting peasant leaders, and firing upon demonstrators.

Women’s Movements

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a radicalization the Gandhian or Sarvodaya tradition of non-violent protest. The Sarvodaya response to the political and economic crisis of the period were movement like the Nav Niman in Gujarat and theBihar Movement led by J.P Narain, Sarvodaya led and based among intellectuals the Navman activists called for accountability among the people, mainly the intelligentsia, as citizens.

The Bodhgaya Struggle, which Govind Kelkar and Chetna Gala document, was led by the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini, a youth organization that formed the van-guard of the Bihar movement. The position it took on land rights for women during the struggle against the feudal rule of the Bodhgaya Math was a product of this ferment.

The Kerela Fishworkers movement developed out of the crisis in the traditional fisheries sector in the wake of mechanized fishing. The beginnings of this crisis, with dwindling catches and overfishing of the seas, can be traced to the mid-1960s,  although the union of Federation the Kerla Swatantra Matrya thozilai-dates from the late 1970s  Social activists from Church related groups were important in organizing the fisher folk. Although women in Kerala do not actually fish. They undertake the major responsibility for marketing the catch. Sensitivity to their problems was woven into the struggle from the beginning. The struggle of the Kerla fisher folk eventually merged with the struggles of fisherfolk in Goa. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and today is an extremely powerful voice basing itself on workers’ solidarity, environmental wholeness and sound developmental planning.  As far as women specifically are concerned, the organization took up the issue of women’s rights to public transport for vending fish. Within the movement to a significant debate took place -on organizational model for women’s involvement. 

The activism of the Indian women’s movement it generally seen to have reached some kind of significant point in the mid-seventies and early eighties. It is from this time that the history of the movement is said to come into a kind of new phase, a resurgence of activity after what is seen as a period of quietude.  One of the first ‘Cases’ to come to light was the rape of poor Muslim woman, Rameeza Bee, in Hyderabad in 1978. In taking up the Rameeza Bee case, women’s organizations were following a tradition established by other groups before them.

As early as 1986, three organizations in Gujarat (Sahiyar, Chingari and the Lok Adhikar Sangh) had filed a joint petition in the Supreme Court demanding an enquiry into the gang rape by policemen of Guntaben, a tribal woman from Bharuch district in Gujarat. The enquiry was led by justice P.N. Bhagwati and the Enquiry Commission interviewed as many as 584 persons.

In the end, nine of them were found guilty. It was, however the Supreme Court judgment in the Mathura rape case (1980) that finally crystallized and focused the energies of women’s groups all over the country. In Maharashtra, Mathura, a young woman, was raped by two policemen (although most of these early cases were cases of police rape, the police were by no means the only offenders), who were found guilty by the High Court of India.

This issue of women’s consent to and acceptance of violence against themselves was one that was to trouble feminist activists even as they became increasingly convinced that the majority of these deaths were, in reality, cold blooded murders.  Dowry had been legally prohibited since the sixties but continued to be part of the marriage rituals of many communities. Agitations against it began in the late seventies with much of the action being concentrated in Delhi.

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