Revisiting the journey to 29 states

Indian states are formed on the basis of language, cultural heritage and regional development.

India today comprises 29 States and 7 Union Territories. However, the political map of India has been changed a couple of times. Boundaries were redrawn at several stages as ‘India is an indestructible union of destructible states’.

On January 26, 1950, with the commencement of the Constitution, India became a sovereign democratic republic. The Constitution declared India a ‘Union of States‘ with three main types of States:

Part A states: Nine former governors’ provinces of British India were made Part A states. These were: Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. They were to be ruled by an elected governor and a state legislature.

Part B states: Eight former princely states or groups of smaller princely states were made Part B states. These states were governed by a President appointed rajpramukh and an elected legislature. The eight Part B states were: Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Rajasthan, Saurashtra, and Travancore-Cochin.

Part C states: Ten former chief commissioners‘ provinces and some princely states were made Part C states, these were governed by chief commissioners appointed by the President of India. The Part C states were: Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Coorg, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kutch, Manipur, Tripura, and Vindhya Pradesh.

Part D states: Andaman and Nicobar Islands was the only Part D state and was administered by a central government appointed lieutenant governor.

Transition of boundaries within India

Between 1950–1956, small changes were made to the state boundaries: the state of Bilaspur was merged with Himachal Pradesh in 1954; Puducherry was created in 1954 comprising the former French enclaves of Pondichérry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahé. Chandernagore, a former enclave of French India which had joined India through a plebiscite, was incorporated into West Bengal in 1955.

Demand for Linguistic reorganisation

Post Independence, India saw political movements for the creation of new states on linguistic lines.

The Central government, however, was not keen on heeding to this demand in the wake of the bloody partition of India. The government feared that it may result in further partition of the country.

The government-appointed Dhar committee and JVP committee to consider the demand for linguistic states had both rejected language to be a criteria.

However, as the movement to create a Telugu-speaking state intensified after the death of Potti Sreeramulu, who had undertaken fast unto death demanding the formation of Andhra State, the government was forced to create Andhra State in 1953 out of the Telugu-speaking northern parts of Madras State.

Creation of Andhra State was akin to opening the Pandora‘s box, as it sparked agitations across the country with linguistic groups demanding separate statehood.

The Central government then set up the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) aka Fazal Ali Commission in 1953 to recommend the reorganisation of state boundaries.

Based on the recommendations of the Fazal Ali Commission, the Central government passed the States Reorganisation Act of 1956. The Act came into effect on Novemeber 1, 1956 and states were reorganised on linguistic lines. (Now you know why Karnataka Rajyotsava is celebrated on November 1).

1. Andhra Pradesh: Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad State was merged with Andhra State

2. Assam: retained its existing boundary

3. Bihar: size was reduced by transferring small areas to West Bengal

4. Bombay State: the existing state was enlarged by adding parts of Saurashtra State and Kutch State, Marathi-speaking districts of Nagpur Division of Madhya Pradesh and Marathwada region of Hyderabad State. Southern most districts of the State was transferred to Mysore state. (This is one of the reasons for the demand for a separate North Karnataka state).

5. Jammu and Kashmir: retained its existing boundary

6. Kerala: Travancore-Cochin State was merged with Malabar district and Kasargod taluk of South Canara district of the Madras Presidency. Whereas its Kanyakumari district was transferred to Madras State.

7. Madhya Pradesh: the state was merged with Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal State. Its Marathi-speaking districts was transferred to Bombay.

8. Madras State: Malabar District was transferred to Kerala. Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands (which were later renamed as Lakshadweep in 1973) were separated from Madras State. Kanyakumari district was added to it. (Madras was renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1968).

9. Mysore State: enlarged by the addition of Coorg and Kannada speaking districts of Madras Presidency, Bombay Presidency and Hyderabad State. (was renamed as Karnataka in 1973).

10. Orissa: Retained its existing boundary (it was renamed as Odisha in 2011)

11. Punjab: enlarged by addition of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).

12. Rajasthan: Ajmer and parts of Bombay and Madhya Bharat states were added.

13. Uttar Pradesh: Retained its existing boundary

14. West Bengal: enlarged by addition of parts of Bihar.

Journey from 14 to 29 

15. Gujarat: Following widespread protests demanding separate states for Gujarati and Marathi speaking people, Bombay state was split into Gujarat and Maharashtra on May 1, 1960.

16. Nagaland: was earlier part of Assam. As the tribals in Nagaland demanded for a separate political union, Nagaland was first made a Union Territory. Later on December 1, 1963, it was given full statehood.

17. The Sikhs wanted a separate state for themselves, however, the Government of India was opposed to the idea of creating states on religious lines. This prompted the Sikhs to demand for a separate state for Punjabi speaking people. Heeding to the new demand, the Government of India passed The Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966, which trifurcated Punjab. Haryana was carved out of Punjab as a ‘Hindi speaking‘ state, hill districts of Punjab were merged with Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was designated as a Union Territory and was made the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.

18. On January 25, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made the eighteenth state of India.

19. Following the Indo-Pak War of 1971, the Government of India reorganised the North Eastern states for better border management. On January 21, 1972 three new states, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura were formed: Manipur, a Union Territory, was given full statehood, becoming the nineteenth state.

20. Meghalaya was formed by carving out the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills districts from the state of Assam.

21. Tripura hitherto a Union Territory was made a State.

22. Sikkim, a protectorate state of India, was given full statehood on May 16, 1975 by the 36th Constitutional Amendment.

23. In order to counter Chinese invasions, Government of India made Arunachal Pradesh, which was part of Assam region, a Union Territory in 1972 and later in 1987 made it a State.

24. Like Arunchal Pradesh, Mizoram- a district of Assam was made a Union Territory in 1972 and a state in 1987.

25. Goa, Daman and Diu - Portuguese colonies, were annexed by the Indian Army under Operation Vijay on December 19, 1961. Goa along with Daman and Diu were made Union Territories. On May 30, 1987, Goa was made the twenty-fifth state of India with Daman and Diu remaining a Union Territory.

26. In November 2000, three new states were created on the basis of regional development:

Chhattisgarh was carved out from eastern Madhya Pradesh.

27. Uttaranchal, now renamed Uttarakhand, from northwest Uttar Pradesh.

28. Jharkhand from southern districts of Bihar

29. Telangana, India‘s twenty ninth state, was created on June 2, 2014, from north-western Andhra Pradesh.

Indian states are therefore formed on the basis of language, cultural heritage and regional development.

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Revisiting the journey to 29 states

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