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How were the Indian States formed? Was language the only criterion?

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Even before independence, the idea that States should be organized on a linguistic basis was discussed. In the 1920s, this idea was approved by the Indian National Congress. Provincial Units of the Congress were made on linguistic basis. Thus there were the unit of Marathi speakers, Oriya speakers and so oh. Gandhiji and other Congress leaders promised that after independence States would be formed on language basis.

But when independence was got, in Congress itself there were different opinions. Some leaders felt that if States are formed on linguistic basis, it would promote regionalism, causing the nation to disintegrate. Nehru, Patel and Rajaji opposed the formation of States on language basis. But a good number of leaders stood firm in their former decision. In this situation of uncertainty, people began to agitate demanding States based on language. Bengalis, Tamils and Telugus joined the agitation.

It was in the Telugu speaking areas that this agitation was the strongest. Sriramulu, a Congress leader and Gandhian, started a fast and he died. His death made the agitation are-up. People fought on the streets. Finally, the government had to grant Andhra State. In 1953, a State Reorganization Commission under Fazal Ali was appointed. The Commission gave its report. On 1 November 1956, the report was enforced. According to this, 14 States and 5 Centrally administered regions came into existence.

Some leaders including Nehru were afraid that the division of States on linguistic basis might cause disintegration of the country. But things happened the other way. The linguistically formed States helped in unifying the country. It also strengthened democracy. Above all, the language States approved the concept of unity in diversity.

It should, however, be noted that not all states were formed on language basis. In 2000, three States – Chhatisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand – were formed. Language did not have a role in their formation. Here the considerations were cultural and economic. India now has 29 States and 2 Central Areas. By merely forming States based on language, regional feelings won’t be satisfied. There is a need for a guarantee for their existence. This is done by the Constitution. It denes clearly the powers jf the States and the Centre.

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