Linguistic Reorganization Of States In India


The process of linguistic reorganization of states in India was far more prolonged and divisive than the controversy over the official language of India and raised more fundamental questions of Centre-state relations. The first step in the process occurred in the aftermath of a major movement in the Andhra region of the old Madras province. This led to the appointment of the States Reorganization Commission, which published its Report in 1955. Following the States Reorganization Act of 1956, the boundaries of the southern states were reorganized in closer conformity with traditional linguistic regions.

The bifurcation of Bombay province into the present state of Gujarat and Maharashtra followed in 1960. In 1966, Punjab was reorganized and its several parts distributed among three units: the core Punjabi Suba, the new state Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. Several new states also have been carved out in response to tribal demands in the North Eastern region of the country from time to time.

Moreover, in this prolonged process, the “practice” of the Indian state developed a coherent and consistent form somewhat different from the ideology proclaimed by its leaders. Many Indian leaders proclaimed their goals after independence to be the establishment of a strong state, to which all the diverse peoples of India would transfer their primary loyalties and submerge their cultural differences in a homogenous nationalism. Others, somewhat more attuned to the realities of India’s diverse cultural differences, thought a “composite” nationalism would emerge combining aspects from the cultures of the various major religious, regional, linguistic, and tribal peoples. Virtually all, however, were fearful to accommodating too readily the demands, which emerged so soon after the catastrophic partition of the country and the major struggle that occurred simultaneously with it over the integration of the princely states.

Out of the conflict which developed between the central government with their ideology of a strong state and a homogeneous or composite nationalism to support it, and the successive demands of leaders of language movements for reorganization of the internal boundaries of the provinces, a set of rules and an overall state strategy emerged which were more pluralist in practice than the ideology, which appeared integrationist and of assimilators. In effect, the Indian state during the Nehru period took on the form of a culturally pluralist state, in which a multiplicity of major peoples, defined primarily in terms of language, were recognized as corporate groups within the state, of course, recognition on the basis of equality did not extend to all the culturally distinctive groups or even to all the large language groups in India, but only to those language groups which are able to vindicate a claim to dominance within a particular region of the country. Such validation, for the most part, could be made good only by those groups, whose languages had already received some official recognition under British rule and had undergone some grammatical standardization and literary development, often involving the absorption of local dialects, and had become entrenched in the government school in their regions.  

At the time of Constitution making, an argument used for having a long transitory period for changeover from the English to the Hindi language was that it was an underdeveloped language and that it needs to be developed before it could be ready to take the place of the English language. Therefore, Article 351, places the Central Government under an obligation to take steps to promote the spread and development of Hindi.

The Linguistic states were formed especially for two reasons which must be supported. The reasons were:-

1.     To make easy the way to the democracy and,

2.     To make racial and cultural tensions. But with time the unfortunate things developed and tried to destroy the basic concept of Linguistic State Policy.

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