Post-Independence Consolidation and Reorganisation Within the Country – Consolidation of India As A Nation

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country was an extremely important event in India that led to many significant changes. At the time of independence, India was home to around 565 princely states. Being a large country, the post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country were challenging. It was accomplished by the extraordinary leadership of Sardar Patel who made the dream of a unified nation possible.

The process of post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country was not smooth. The Indian government and its leaders had to face very many challenges along the way but eventually, they were able to accomplish their intended goals by adopting various tactics.

Post-Independence Consolidation and Reorganisation within the Country

As soon as India gained its independence and the British decided to leave, the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Muslim League faced the challenge of unity. They were unsuccessful in joining hands which led to the partition of India. In pre-independence India, there were 565 princely states along with the British, Portuguese and French territories. The idea of post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country seemed a tough task.

Britain also wished for a consensus and sent a Cabinet Mission for the same. Things did not go as per plan and the Muslim League announced 16th August 1946 as the “Direct Action Day”. This action resulted in violence on both borders and eventually, the plan of partition was accepted by Congress.

  • 14th of August 1947 marked the day of India’s partition and the formation of two separate dominions named India and Pakistan.
  • This partition was made possible by the Indian Independence Act 1947which was passed by the British Parliament on 5th July 1947.
  • Pakistan was called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which was further divided after a few years.
  • As a result, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed in 1975.
  • Another issue that existed at the time was the integration of princely states as some of these states were interested in gaining independence and staying as separate states.

Post- Independence Consolidation

Apart from problems like abject poverty, extreme hunger, sub-level economy and huge problems of rehabilitation of refugees, post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country, majorly of the princely states was a big challenge. Post- partition the crime rate and violence increased in the name of religion not just in India but in Pakistan as well. 80 Lakh people have been estimated to have migrated and 10 Lakh people were killed. India had to create a rehabilitation department to settle the refugees.

Post-independence India had more than 500 princely states along with the French and Portuguese colonies and some existing revenue arrangements made with the British government. Post-independence consolidation of India was tough especially when a different uprising named the State People’s movement occurred between 1946 and 1947.

  • The movement was started in order to demand political rights and representation in the elections in the Constituent Assembly.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru headed the sessions of the All India State People’s Conference and made an announcement that whichever States will deny joining the Assembly will be considered an opposition.
  • Sardar Patel eventually held the responsibility of the States Department in 1947 with V.P Menon as the secretary.

Consolidation of India – Stage 1

Sardar Vallabhai Patel had taken matters into his own hands. He understood the risks that were involved in the whole process of the consolidation of India after independence. The process of post-independence consolidation and reorganisation within the country can be divided into two stages. Sardar Patel followed the two-way approach and first put forward an appeal to the head of certain princely states.

  • The appeal was made to the states with the territories falling within India, to accept the terms of the Union of India on three grounds- foreign affairs, communications and defence.
  • Sardar Patel also gave a warning that the conditions of the government will be more strict after the 15th of August.
  • He also lured the princes through attractive compensation in the name of privy purses and these states had an interest to be India’s part.
  • As a result of this, 562 states actually agreed and signed the instrument of accession and three of the princely states namely Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmiropted out of it.

Consolidation of India as a Nation

Sardar Patel contributed heavily to the process of integration of the princely states. He also took assistance from Mountbatten in convincing the princes of the states. After the successful integration of almost all the states, the challenge of integrating the remaining three states was remaining. Therefore, Patel initiated his efforts towards the same in the following manner.

Accession of Junagarh

Junagarh was controlled by a Muslim ruler named Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III despite having a Hindu majority. The ruler of Junagarh had declared the accession of his state to Pakistan in spite of the fact that his boundaries were not in touch with Pakistan.

  • He did this against the wishes of his people who were majorly Hindus and Pakistan was an Islamic state.
  • As a result, the people planned a revolt and made the Nawab run away, thereby setting up an interim government.
  • All of this was followed by the request of Junagarh’s Dewan to the Indian government to take matters into its own hands and make a fair decision.
  • Therefore, a poll was conducted in Junagarh in 1948 which resulted in the accession of Junagarh to India.

Accession of Hyderabad

Due to the fact that Hyderabad was the biggest Indian state, its decision not to integrate with India could create a lot of problems for the country. The Nawab of Hyderabad wanted an independent status and was more focused on developing his military strength. He was less interested in the consolidation of India.

  • Following a number of discussions and negotiations, India signed a temporary agreement called the “Standstill Agreement”.
  • India expected the Nawab of Hyderabad to form a democratic government but he was intentionally slowing down the process.
  • The discussions with the Nawab of Hyderabad went on for a long time period.
  • Eventually, the Nawab was made to surrender and the Indian army forcefully entered Hyderabad on 13th September 1948.
  • The state of Hyderabad was finally a part of India in the month of November.

Accession of Kashmir

The state of Jammu and Kashmir was headed by a Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh despite a Muslim majority. The Maharaja created a state of confusion and signed a “Standstill Agreement” with both India and Pakistan at the time.

  • The Maharaja of Kashmir was majorly interested in retaining an independent status.
  • However, the political leaders of India did not put any effort to enable Kashmir to accept the integration.
  • After some time, Pakistan attempted to intrude in Jammu and Kashmir which was an alarm for the Maharaja.
  • He subsequently requested India for military assistance and agreed to sign the instrument of accession.

Post-Independence Consolidation – Stage 2

The second stage of post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country involved a tougher task. The second challenge was to accomplish the integration of princely states with the provinces that were adjacent to India. These states were Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. Out of these states, Bhutan and Nepal eventually separated themselves as independent countries.

There were five unions that were now a part of India as a result of the integration such as Patiala & East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Madhya Bharat, Rajasthan, Travancore-Cochin and Saurashtra. There were many states that chose to retain their boundaries such as Hyderabad, Travancore-Cochin and Mysore.

Reorganization of States Post- Independence

The accession of states and other British provinces was followed by a temporary regrouping of states depending on their political and historical preferences and not on their cultural or linguistic aspects. To make things stable, there was a requirement for permanent action to be taken with respect to the post-independence consolidation and reorganization of states within the country. To fulfil this purpose, certain commissions were formed which worked towards the reorganization of states in post-independent India.

  • Dhar Commission – There were requests for the reorganization of states to be based on linguistic preferences. This led to the formation of the Dhar Commission in 1948 which was headed by S.K. Dhar. The commission was in favour of a reorganization with respect to geographical and historical viewpoints as well.
  • JVP Committee- The recommendations made by the Dhar Commission did not satisfy the requirements of the people, especially in the South region. This led to the formation of the JVP Committee in 1948 itself. The committee had Pandit Nehru, Pattabhi Sitaramayya and Vallabh Bhai Patel which submitted its report in April 1949. This committee again did not favour the reorganization of states on a linguistic level.
  • Andhra Movement 1953 – Following the recommendations of the JVP Committee, Andhra Pradesh became the first linguistic state in 1953. The Telugu-speaking people were separated from the state of Madras later by the Government.

Post- Independence Consolidation and Reorganisation: Formation of New States

There were many requests related to the formation of more new states on a linguistic or cultural basis. This also led to the division of the already existing Indian states. Some examples have been given below:

  • Gujarat and Maharashtra – Bombay was a bilingual state in 1960. The Bombay Reorganisation Act of 1960 was passed which resulted in the division of Bombay into 2 states- Maharashtra, consisting of the people whose language was Marathi and Gujarat, for the people speaking Gujarati.
  • Daman & Diu and Goa – These three were a part of the Portuguese territories which were taken away forcibly through armed attacks in 1961. All three were part of a single territory out of which Goa later separated itself as an independent state in 1987.
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli – It was also under Portuguese control until 1954. It was later given the status of a Union Territory in 1961.
  • Puducherry – This was a part o the French territory and became part of India in 1954 and became a union territory.

Apart from the above-mentioned states, there were other new states as well that were formed as a result of the reorganization of states in India. These were

  • Nagaland
  • Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana
  • Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya
  • Sikkim
  • Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram
  • Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh
  • Telangana
  • J& K and Ladakh
Other Important UPSC Notes
Attorney General of India Simon Commission
Wahabi Movement PESA ACT 1996
Ujjawala Scheme National Investigation Agency
Ganga River System Central Information Commission
International Organizations Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013
Women Empowerment Representation of Peoples Act 1951
Brahmo Samaj Battle of Plassey 1757
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