Post-Independence Consolidation and Reorganization within the Country

Mains Marks Booster     2nd August 2023        

Integration of Princely States

  • During the era of independence, India was divided into two distinct political entities: British Provinces, which were directly under the governance of the British administration, and the Princely States, ruled by indigenous royals but acknowledging the supreme authority of the British Crown. 
  • More than 500 such princely states existed. 
  • These states encompassed approximately 48% of the territory of India prior to its independence, and one out of every four Indian citizens resided under the authority of a prince.

Background of the Integration:

  • Paramountcy or Suzerainty of the British crown: The Princely states enjoyed some form of control over their internal affairs as long as they accepted British supremacy. This was called the ‘Paramountcy or Suzerainty of the British crown’. 
  • Conditions laid before the States post-Independence: Princely states were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent if they so wished. 
  • Role of Sardar Patel: Sardar Patel played a historic role in negotiating with the rulers of princely states firmly but diplomatically and bringing most of them into the Indian Union. 
  • Motive Behind Approach of Indian Government:
  • Most of People in such states wanted to become part of the Indian union
  • To accommodate plurality and adopt a flexible approach in dealing with the demands.
  • Integration and consolidation of the territorial boundaries of the nation. 

Case study of Hyderabad 

  • Standstill Agreement with the Nizam of Hyderabad: The Nizam wanted an independent status for Hyderabad. He entered into the Standstill Agreement with India in November 1947.
  • Movement against Nizam: Peasantry, especially in Telangana, rose against oppressive rule. Women also joined in large numbers. 
  • Nizam unleashed Razakars, a paramilitary force, leading to atrocities and communal tensions. 
  • Indian Army Intervention: 'Operation Polo' in Sep 1948 brought Indian army to control Nizam's forces. After intermittent fighting, Nizam surrendered, leading to Hyderabad's accession to India.

Case Study of Manipur:

  • Internal Autonomy: Maharaja of Manipur, Bodhachandra Singh,  signed Instrument of Accession in Aug 1947, ensuring internal autonomy in Manipur. 
  • Constitutional monarchy in Manipur: Under the pressure, Maharaja held elections in June 1948 Manipur and the state became a constitutional monarchy. 
  • Differences over Merger: Sharp differences arose over the merger of Manipur with India. State Congress favored it, while other parties opposed. 
  • Merger Agreement without Consent: Government of India pressured Maharaja into signing Merger Agreement in Sep 1949, bypassing the elected Legislative Assembly of Manipur.

Chronological formation/integration of States in NE India

  • Assam (1947): Original province of India at independence. 
  • Manipur (1949): Initially a princely state, Manipur became part of India in 1949 and was granted full statehood in 1972.
  • Tripura (1949): Like Manipur, Tripura was also a princely state and acceded to the Indian Union in 1949. It became a full-fledged state in 1972.
  • Nagaland (1963): After years of insurgency and negotiations, it became the first state to be carved out of Assam in 1963, marking the beginning of the North-Eastern states' formation.
  • Meghalaya (1972): Formed from two districts of Assam, Meghalaya achieved statehood in 1972, facilitating better administration and meeting the unique demands of the tribal population.
  • Arunachal Pradesh (1972/1987): It became a Union Territory in 1972 after being separated from Assam, and was declared a state in 1987.
  • Sikkim (1975): While not traditionally part of Northeast India, Sikkim is often associated with the region. Sikkim joined the Indian Union as the 22nd state in 1975 following a referendum.
  • Mizoram (1987): Following a peace accord ending years of insurgency, Mizoram transitioned from Union Territory status to full statehood in 1987.

Case study of Junagadh:

  • Decision of Muhammad Nawab Khanji III: Junagadh contained a large Hindu population but Nawab chose to accede to Pakistan arguing that Junagadh adjoined Pakistan by sea. 
  • Tensions over communal violence: India believed that if Junagadh was permitted to accede to Pakistan, communal tension already simmering in Gujarat would worsen, and refused the accession. 
  • Decision to call for a plebiscite: The government pointed out that the state was 80% Hindu, and called for a plebiscite to decide the question of accession. Pakistan agreed to discuss a plebiscite, subject to the withdrawal of Indian troops, a condition India rejected. 
  • Invitation given to the Indian government: On November 7,1947 Junagadh’s court, facing collapse, invited the Government of India to take over the State’s administration. 
  • The Dewan of Junagadh, Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto decided to invite the Government of India to intervene. 
  • Result of plebiscite: Junagadh became a part of the Indian state of Saurashtra until November 1, 1956, when Saurashtra became part of Bombay state.

Case study of Kashmir: 

  • Stand of Maharaja Hari Singh: He had offered a proposal of standstill agreement to both India and Pakistan but remained reluctant to join either of the two dominions. 
  • Pakistan’s invasion of Kashmir: Pakistan invaded Kashmir and thousands of tribal pathans swept into Kashmir in October 1947. 
  • Maharaja’s appeal for help: The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir appealed to India for help and signed an 'Instrument of Accession' of J&K state.
  • According to the terms of the document, the Indian jurisdiction would extend to external affairs, communications and defence. After the document was signed, Indian troops were airlifted into the state and fought alongside the Kashmiris.
  • On 5th March, 1948, Maharaja Hari Singh announced the formation of an interim popular government with Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah as the Prime Minister.
  • Provisions under Delhi Agreement: In 1951, the state constituent assembly was elected. In 1952, the Delhi Agreement was signed between Prime Ministers of India and Jammu & Kashmir giving special position to the state under the Indian Constitutional framework.
  • Accession of Jammu and Kashmir: On 6th February 1954, the J&K constituent assembly ratified the accession of the state to the Union of India. The President subsequently issued the constitution order under Article 370.

Integration of Tribals

The integration of tribals in post-independence India has been a significant challenge due to historical injustices, cultural diversity, and socio-economic disparities. The Indian government has implemented various policies and programs to address the specific needs of tribal communities and ensure their integration into the mainstream society. 

Their status during colonial period:

  • During colonialism, the tribals experienced a loss of seclusion, leading to exploitation as farm laborers and a disconnect from the forests. Their reliance on trees for sustenance and livelihoods was disrupted. Consequently, they faced poverty, debt, and hardships. 
  • Land loss, indebtedness, exploitation by intermediaries, denial of access to forests and forest products, and oppression and extortion by policemen, forest officials, and other government officials all contributed to a series of tribal uprisings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the Santhal uprising and the Munda rebellion led by Birsa Munda.

Difficulties in Tribal Integration

  • Their rudimentary manner of living, Economic and social backwardness, Literacy is low, A tired production system, Absence of a value system, Physical infrastructure is lacking in backward tribal places and The demographic quality of tribal territories.

These issues made a systematic process of tribal and tribal area development necessary.

Here are some key approaches for tribal integration in post-independence India:



Assimilation Approach by GS Ghure:

This assimilation approach seeks to fully integrate tribal communities into mainstream society by eradicating their distinct cultural practises and identities. 

Tribal communities are expected to adopt the majority's language, religion, and customs. 

Assimilation policies often promote the abandonment of tribal languages, cultures, and livelihoods. This approach could weaken tribal autonomy and cultural heritage.

Isolation Approach or National Park Approach by Elwin:

The isolation, seclusion, or preservation approach emphasises keeping tribal communities isolated from mainstream society. 

It shields tribal cultures from outside influences. Isolation policies involve creating tribal reservations and restricting outside contact. 

This approach protects tribal cultures but limits their access to essential services, economic opportunities, and socio-political participation.

Integration Approach:

The integration approach balances tribal culture preservation and socio-economic integration into society. 

Tribes' cultural identities are respected while they participate equally in mainstream social, economic, and political processes. 

Education, healthcare, land and resource rights, livelihood opportunities, and decision-making representation empower tribal communities. 

The integration approach preserves and promotes tribal cultures while giving tribes equal rights, opportunities, and development benefits.

Tribal Panchsheel (Nehruvian Approach)

Tribal Panchsheel (Nehruvian Approach)

Steps taken

Tribal panchsheel shaped constitutional arrangements for tribals. These ideals gave tribal governance a boost for rebuilding India. 

  • Indian Constitution lists Scheduled Tribes (STs). 
  • Article 342 of 1950 constitution designates 212 tribes in 14 states as STs. 
  • Article 19(5) allows special restrictions for protecting ST interests. 
  • Article 46 mandates support for educational and economic interests of impoverished communities, including STs. 
  • Article 164 establishes Tribal Welfare Ministers in Bihar, Orissa, and Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Article 244 enables the President to designate regions with large tribal populations as Scheduled Areas. Scheduled Areas empower tribal rights and welfare. 
  • Tribes Advisory Council advises Governors in Scheduled Areas. 
  • Scheduled Areas exempt from certain laws unless extended by Governors. 
  • Article 275(1) authorizes special grants for ST welfare. 
  • Article 338 establishes the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). 

Other measures include: 

  • Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006, recognizing forest rights of STs. 
  • Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) earmarks funds for tribal development in sectors like education, health, and livelihoods. 
  • Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Plan bridges resource gaps for tribal development. 
  • Educational initiatives include residential schools, scholarships, and financial incentives.
  • Employment and livelihood programs like NRLM, MGNREGA, and Skill India. 
  • Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 extends Panchayati Raj system to scheduled areas, empowering tribal participation in local governance.

NSTFDC (National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation): 

  • Established in 2001 under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. 
  • Aims to uplift the economic status of Scheduled Tribes through concessional financial assistance.
  • Prominent schemes include Term Loan, Adivasi Mahila Sashaktikaran Yojana (exclusive for ST women), Adivasi Shiksha Rinn Yojana (Education Loan), Micro Credit Scheme for ST Self Help Groups (SHGs), Tribal Forest Dwellers Empowerment Scheme, and Teak Growers Scheme.


Assimilation and isolation have been criticised for ignoring tribal communities' rights, autonomy, and cultural diversity. The integration approach respects and preserves tribal cultures while addressing socio-economic disparities and ensuring tribal participation in shaping their future.

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