Evolution of Indian States & UTs

Evolution of Indian States & UTs

This article deals with ‘Evolution of Indian States & UTs – Indian Polity.’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here.

Evolution of Indian States & UTs

During British times

During British colonial rule, the states and territories in India were characterized by a complex administrative structure consisting of two main categories: Provinces and Princely States.

  1. Provinces: These were governed directly by British Officials.
  2. Princely States: These were ruled by the local hereditary rulers (Maharajas, Nawabs, or Rajas), who acknowledged the suzerainty of the British Crown through treaties or agreements but maintained a significant degree of autonomy over their internal affairs. 

At the time of Independence

When India became independent on August 15, 1947, the Britishers dissolved their existing treaties with more than 600 Princely States. They were allowed to either accede to India or Pakistan or declare Independence. Most Princely States (except 3) joined India voluntarily or through armed intervention.

Three notable exceptions stood out among these princely states: Junagadh, Hyderabad, and Jammu & Kashmir. These states posed unique challenges to the newly formed Indian Union and required distinct approaches for their integration.

Junahgarh The issue of Junagadh’s accession was resolved through a Referendum
Hyderabad The integration of Hyderabad was achieved through a military intervention known as “Operation Polo” or the “Police Action.”
Jammu & Kashmir The State of Jammu & Kashmir’s accession to India is a complex and contentious chapter in Indian history. The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession, aligning the State with India. This led to a series of events, including tribal incursions and conflict with Pakistan, ultimately resulting in the establishment of the Line of Control.  

In 1950, India’s administrative framework underwent a comprehensive reorganization, leading to a four-fold classification of states:

Part A These included the nine Governor’s Provinces of British India—Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. 
These states were placed under the governance of a Governor.
Part B These included nine former Princely States or groups of Princely States with Legislative Assemblies—Jammu & Kashmir, Hyderabad, Madhya Bharat, Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Mysore, Rajasthan, Travancore-Cochin, Saurashtra, and Vindhya Pradesh. 
These states were under the governance of Rajpramukh, often a Royal Prince.
Part C This category included Commissioner’s Provinces and certain Princely States, totaling ten—Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Cooch-Behar, Coorg, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kutch, Manipur, and Tripura. 
These states were placed under the jurisdiction of a Chief Commissioner.
Part D Part D State included Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
A Lieutenant Governor administered it.

Linguistic Provinces Commission/Dhar Commission of 1948

  • Boundaries of Indian provinces were drawn haphazardly, and no heed was paid to linguistic and cultural cohesion. Hence, there was a constant demand for the linguistic reorganization of states. 
  • In the wake of such demands, a Linguistic Provinces Commission, also known as the Dhar Commission, under the Chairmanship of SK Dhar, was constituted by the Constituent Assembly in 1948 to look into the reorganization of states in India. 
  • In the course of its deliberations, the Dhar Commission conducted a meticulous examination of the prevailing dynamics, consulting a broad spectrum of stakeholders, intellectuals, and experts across the nation. 
  • In its report, the Commission recommended that the reorganization of states should be based on administrative convenience rather than on a linguistic basis.
  • But the stance on prioritizing administrative convenience sparked intense debates and discussions throughout the nation. Proponents of linguistic states expressed concerns about the potential dilution of cultural identity and argued that administrative efficiency should not overshadow the emotional and historical bonds that language shared among communities. 

JVP Commission of 1949

  • Indian National Congress, in its Jaipur Session, set up a high-level committee consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramiah (JVP Committee) to consider the recommendation of the Dhar Commission.
  • It concluded that language couldn’t be considered the basis for State Reorganisation, and utmost caution should be observed in proceeding with the linguistic reorganization of States.
  • But it resulted in strong agitations. The commission’s recommendations particularly impacted the Telegu-speaking regions of Madras. Tragically, the agitation took a grave turn when Poti Sriramulu, a prominent Congress leader, embarked on a hunger strike demanding the creation of a separate Andhra state. His sacrifice and subsequent death due to the fast further exacerbated tensions, resulting in violent riots and disturbances. The government, under pressure, carved out Andhra Pradesh from Madras by separating the 16 Telugu-speaking districts of Madras State. 
  • This move, although addressing the immediate concerns of the agitating masses, set a precedent and emboldened other linguistic groups across the country to demand similar reorganization based on linguistic affinity.  

State Reorganization Commission or Fazl Ali Commission of 1953

  • The creation of Andhra sparked agitations all over the Union of India, where the various linguistic and religious regions demanded separate statehoods. Hence, Jawaharlal Nehru appointed the States Reorganization Commission (1953), under the chairmanship of Fazl Ali and consisting of KM Panikkar and HN Kunzru, to resolve the issue.
  • Recommendations of the Fazl Ali Commission or State Reorganization Commission 
    1. Language as the Basis for Reorganization: The commission was to accept language as the fundamental criterion for the reorganization of states. 
    2. Rejecting ‘One Language, One State’: While the commission endorsed the principle of linguistic states, it rejected the notion of a strict ‘one language, one state’ policy.
    3. Comprehensive Considerations: Financial, economic and administrative considerations, as well as planning & welfare of people, should also be considered in state reorganization.
    4. Abolishing Four-Fold Classification: 4 fold classification of states should be abolished, and 16 states & 3 centrally administrative territories should be created instead.
  • Subsequently, the State Reorganisation Act of 1956 was passed, leading to the 7th Amendment, which resulted in 14 states & 6 UTs. 

Formation of States

The reorganization of existing state boundaries since the consolidation of the Indian Union in 1950 can be broadly classified under 3 phases.

Phase 1: Linguistic Reorganization (Till 1960)

Andhra Pradesh 1953 Andhra Pradesh was established by separating 16 Telugu-speaking districts from Madras State, fulfilling the linguistic aspirations of the Telugu-speaking population.  
Kerala 1956 The State Reorganisation Act of 1956 led to the creation of Kerala by combining the princely states of Travancore and Cochin, thus consolidating all Malayalam-speaking regions.  
Karnataka 1956 Karnataka emerged as a state predominantly for Kannada speakers, encompassing areas of the Erstwhile princely state of Mysore.  
Gujarat and Bombay 1960 The state of Bombay was divided to form the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, responding to linguistic and cultural identities.  

Phase 2

Nagaland 1962 Nagaland was created by separating it from Assam, recognizing the unique identity and aspirations of the Naga people.  
Punjab and Haryana 1966 The division of Punjab resulted in the creation of Haryana as a separate state, with Chandigarh serving as a union territory shared by both states.  
Himachal Pradesh 1970 Himachal Pradesh attained statehood, transitioning from a Union Territory.  
Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura 1971 These were first made ‘autonomous states’ within the State of Assam by the 22nd Constitutional Amendment. Later they were made full-fledged states in 1971.
Sikkim 1974    Sikkim was originally ruled by the Chogyal dynasty and a Protectorate of India. But in 1974, Sikkim was given the status of an Associate State through the 35th Constitutional Amendment. Subsequently, in 1975, the rule of Chogyals was abolished, and Sikkim was incorporated into India as a full-fledged state.  
Mizoram 1986 Mizoram was established as a separate state, recognizing the unique identity of its people.  
Arunachal Pradesh 1986 The North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) was reorganized and granted full statehood as Arunachal Pradesh.  
Goa 1987 Goa was separated from the Union-Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu and was made a full-fledged State of Goa. The remaining regions, i.e. Daman and Diu, remained as Union Territories.  

Phase 3: 2000s to Present

From 2000s, the basis of the demanding state has changed from linguistic principles to ethnicity, backwardness, administrative convenience etc. For example, the State of Uttarakhand was created based on administrative convenience, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand based on tribal ethnicity and Telangana based on backwardness. 

Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand 2000 These states were carved out of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, respectively, addressing regional imbalances and tribal aspirations.  
Telangana 2 June 2014 Formed through the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, Telangana emerged as a separate state, addressing issues of backwardness and regional disparities.

Ongoing Demands: Aspirations and Challenges 

Despite the substantial reorganization, several demands for new states persist based on different criteria:

  1. Gorkhaland (West Bengal): Ethnic considerations underlie the demand for Gorkhaland.
  2. Kamtapur (Assam): The Koch Rajbangsi community seeks a separate Kamtapur state.
  3. Bodoland (Assam): The Bodo people aspire for a separate Bodoland state.
  4. Vidarbha (Maharashtra): Calls for Vidarbha statehood are grounded in developmental and regional concerns.
  5. Saurashtra (Gujarat): The demand for a Saurashtra state reflects regional identity and underdevelopment.
  6. Fourfold Division of Uttar Pradesh (Harit Pradesh, Awadh Pradesh, Purvanchal, Bundelkhand): Administrative convenience and developmental factors underpin demands for dividing Uttar Pradesh.

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