Language of princely states and so on.

Language is not just a medium of communication, but a tool for socio-cultural development.
During freedom struggle it was acknowledged that vernaculars are essential tools for mass
mobilization and education of masses. Administrative can be effective only if, it is conducted in   the language that masses understand. So, even Congress started to promote working of its
regional branches in vernaculars after 1919 and Gandhiji even proclaimed that ‘redistribution of
provinces on a linguistic basis was necessary if provincial languages were to grow to their full
height’. Thus, there was a strong case present for linguistic re-organization for effective
administration and educational and cultural development of people. In fact after the Nagpur
session of Congress in 1920 the principle was recognized as the basis of the reorganization of
the Indian National Congress party itself. Many Provincial Congress Committees were created by
linguistic zones, which did not follow the administrative divisions of British India.
However, the agenda was not pursued so vigorously immediately post-independence as there
were other more important issues were at hand in form of maintaining communal harmony, war
with Pakistan over Kashmir, inclusion of princely states and so on. Further, it was feared that
linguistic re-organization may promote linguistic chauvinism and rivalry and vitiate the
atmosphere which may prove counter-productive for national integration. The need for
postponement was also felt because the fate of the Princely States had not been decided. Also,
the memory of partition was still fresh. It was also felt that this would draw attention away from
other social and economic challenges that the country faced. The central leadership decided to
postpone matters.
For these reasons, first Justice Dhar Commission or Linguistic Provinces Commission of 1948 and
another committee JVP Committee in the same year headed by Jawahar Lal, Vallabhai Patel and
Pattabhi Sitaramayya advised against creation of states on linguistic lines and instead they
recommended creation of states on the basis of administrative convenience for unity, security
and economic development of the nation. However, demand for linguistic reorganization of
certain regions became vociferous and especially of a Telugu speaking region of Andhra out of
Madras province. JVP report acknowledged this demand, but also highlighted that Madras city
was a contentious area for the two sides.
In a dramatic turn of events, in October 1952 a popular freedom fighter Patti Sriramalu died as a
result of his 58 day long hunger strike in support of separate Andhra and rioting and protests
ensued following which government hurriedly announced creation of Andhra on linguistic lines
out of existing Madras province and Tamil Nadu was also created. As a result of it, many other
demands also made and government was forced to appoint ‘State Reorganization Commission’
headed by Faiz Ali, K M Panikkar and Hridyantah Kunzru in 1953 to look into the issue and it
submitted its report in 1955. It recommended that states should primarily be reorganized on
linguistic lines and secondary only on the basis of administrative convenience. It also
recommended non-reorganization of Bombay and Punjab. It drew some adverse reaction, but
government implemented its recommendations with some modifications and brought ‘State
Reorganization Act, 1956’. It led to creation of 14 states and 6 UTs. Strong opposition was
witnessed in Maharashtra and 80 people were killed in clashes. Government decided to
reorganize Bombay as Gujarat and Maharashtra with Bombay as centrally administered unit. But
it too was opposed and finally after long tussle, Gujarat with Ahmadabad and Maharashtra with
Bombay were formed in 1960.Punjab was reorganized later as an exception to the principle of linguistic re-organization as it
was opined by many as rather organized on ‘communal’ basis with idea of separate Sikh area as
central to its formation led by Akali Dal and Hindi region led by Jan Sangh. Idea of separate
states was already rejected in 1956 by State Reorganization Commission as well as national
leadership as the deamnd was trying to camouflage communal intentions as linguistic ones.
When PEPSU was merged with Punjab in 1956 reorganization drive it included three different
areas into it viz hilly, Punjabi speaking and Hindi speaking. Indira Gandhi finally conceded to the
demand in November 1966 and Punjab and Haryana were created and some Pahari areas were
merged with Himachal Pradesh. It also marked completion of state reorganization for the time
Contrary to apprehensions, state reorganization on linguistic lines didn’t hamper the federal
structure and unity of our nation and have instead helped in consolidating and integrating it. It
has led to rationalization of the map which was arbitrarily drawn by the alien rulers as per their
convenience and in order of their conquests of Indian regions. Language question could have
posed difficult problems for its strong emotive quotientif it would have not been timely
addressed. After reorganization, language issue has not been ever politicized significantly and
has in fact promoted better administration in homogeneous political units in languages that
masses understand.
Outcomes of linguistic re-organization –
I. The path to politics and power was now open to people other than the small English
speaking elite.
II. Linguistic reorganization also gave some uniform basis to the drawing of state
III. It did not lead to disintegration of the country as many had feared earlier. On the
contrary it strengthened national unity. Above all, the linguistic states underlined the
acceptance of the principle of diversity.
IV. Gandhi on Linguistic Basis – “..if linguistic provinces are formed, it will also give a fillip to
the regional languages.
However certain issues still remained unresolved. Issue of minority languages still remains. Even
in states which are created on linguistic lines, there are minorities in those states which speak
different language and they don’t speak the official language of the state. There is around 18%
population which falls in this category and separate states cannot be created for such small
communities. To alley their apprehensions of development, constitution has also made certain
provisions in form of Article 30 to establish and administrator educational institutions. A
constitutional amendment was also made after 1956 re-organization that state should made
adequate provision for the education of such minorities in their mother tongue. It also provides
for appointment of a ‘Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities’ to investigate and review the
safeguards provided for such minorities. However, despite such measures ground reality is different and more so in case of tribal minority languages. Urdu, which is one of the biggest
minority languages, has not been accorded status of official language in even single state except
Jammu and Kashmir. It also suffered because it was wrongfully associated with the communal
question. In lack of official support, the language declined considerably, but still maintains a
strong presence through newspapers, cinema and cultural activities. 


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