JAC Board Class 8th Social Science Notes History Chapter 10 India After Independence
→ A New and Divided Nation:
- When India became independent in August 1947, it faced a series of very great challenges with refugees to settle down with home and jobs.
- Around 500 princely states were there, each of whom had to be persuaded to join the new nation.
- The new nation had to adopt a political system that would best serve the hopes and expectations of its population.
- At Independence, the vast majority of Indians lived in the villages.
- In the cities, factory workers lived in crowded slums with little access to education or healthcare.
- The new nation had to lift its masses out of poverty by increasing the productivity of agriculture and by promoting new, job-creating industries.
→ A Constitution is Written
- Between December 1946 and November 1949, some 300 Indians had a series of meetings on the country’s political future. The meetings of this “Constituent Assembly” were held in New Delhi.
- These discussions resulted in the framing of the Indian Constitution, which came into effect on 26 January 1950.
- One feature of the Constitution was its adoption of universal adult franchise.
- All Indians above the age of 21 years would be allowed to vote in state and national elections. This was a revolutionary step for never before had Indians been allowed to choose their own leaders.
- A second feature of the Constitution was that it guaranteed equality before the law to all citizens, regardless of their caste or religious affiliation.
- Under the new Constitution, they would have the same rights as Hindus – the same opportunities when it came to seeking jobs in government or the private sector, the same rights before the law.
- A third feature of the Constitution was that it offered special privileges for the poorest and most disadvantaged Indians.
- After a long debate, the Constituent Assembly also recommended that a certain percentage of seats in legislatures as well as jobs in government be reserved for members of the lowest castes.
→ Along with the former untouchables, the adivasis or Scheduled Tribes were also granted reservation in seats and jobs.
- The Constituent Assembly spent many days discussing the powers of the central government versus those of the state governments.
- Some members thought that the Centre’s interests should be foremost.
- Other members felt that the provinces should have greater autonomy and freedom.
→ The Constitution sought to balance these competing claims by providing three lists of subjects:
- A Union List, with subjects such as taxes, defence and foreign affairs, which would be the exclusive responsibility of the Centre;
- A State List of subjects, such as education and health, which would be taken care of principally by the states;
- A Concurrent List, under which would come subjects such as forests and agriculture, in which the Centre and the states would have joint responsibility.
→ Another major debate in the Constituent Assembly concerned language.
- A compromise was finally arrived at: namely, that while Hindi would be the “official language” of India, English would be used in the courts, the services, and communications between one state and another.
- The most important role was played by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, who was Chairman of the Drafting Committee, and under whose supervision the document was finalised.
- In his final speech to the Constituent Assembly, Dr Ambedkar pointed out that political democracy had to be accompanied by economic and social democracy.
→ How were States to be Formed?
- Back in the 1920s, the Indian National Congress, the main party of the freedom struggle had promised that once the country won independence, each major linguistic group would have its own province.
- India had been divided on the basis of religion: despite the wishes and efforts of Mahatma Gandhi, freedom had come not to one nation but to two.
- Both Prime Minister Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel were against the creation of linguistic states.
- The Kannada speakers, Malayalam speakers, the Marathi speakers had all looked forward to having their own state. The strongest protests, however, came from the Telugu-speaking districts of what was the Madras Presidency.
→ In October 1952, a veteran Gandhian named Potti Sriramulu went on a hunger strike demanding the formation of Andhra state to protect the interests of Telugu speakers. As the fast went on, it attracted much support. Hartals and bandhs were observed in many towns.
- On 15 December 1952, fifty-eight days into his fast, Potti Sriramulu died.
- On 1 October 1953, the new state of Andhra came into being, which subsequently became Andhra Pradesh.
- A States Reorganisation Commission was set up which submitted its report in 1956 recommending the redrawing of district and provincial boundaries to form compact provinces of Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu speakers respectively.
- In 1960, the bilingual state of Bombay was divided into separate states for Marathi and Gujarati speakers.
- In 1966, the state of Punjab was also divided into Punjab and Haryana, the former for the Punjabi speakers (who were also mostly Sikhs), the latter for the rest (who spoke not Punjabi but versions of Haryanvi or Hindi).
→ Planning for Development
- Lifting India and Indians out of poverty, and building a modem technical and industrial base were among the major objectives of the new nation.
- In 1950, the government set up a Planning Commission to help design and execute suitable policies for economic development.
- There was a broad agreement on what was called a “mixed economy” model. Here, both the State and the private sector would play important and complementary roles in increasing production and generating jobs.
- In 1956, the Second Five Year Plan was formulated. This focused strongly on the development of heavy industries such as steel, and on the building of large dams.
- These sectors would be under the control of the State.
- Some felt that it had put inadequate emphasis on agriculture. Others argued that it had neglected primary education. Still others believed that it had not taken account of the environmental implications of economic policies.
→ The Nation, Sixty Years On
- On 15 August 2007, India celebrated sixty years of its existence as a free nation.
- That India is still united, and that it is still democratic, are achievements that we might justly be proud of.
- As many as thirteen general elections have been held since Independence, as well as hundreds of state and local elections. There is a free press, as well as an independent judiciary. Finally, the fact that people speak different languages or practise different faiths has not come in the way of national unity.
- On the other hand, deep divisions persist. Despite constitutional guarantees, the Untouchables or, as they are now referred to, the Dalits, face violence and discrimination.
- As many observers have noted, the gulf between the rich and the poor has grown over the years.
- The Constitution recognises equality before the law but in real life some Indians are more equal than others. Judged by the standards it set itself at Independence, the Republic of India has not been a great success. But it has not been a failure either.