The linguistic reorganisation of states

The linguistic reorganisation of states

  • Between 1947 and about 1950, the territories of the princely states were politically integrated into the Indian Union.
    • Most were merged into existing provinces; others were organised into new provinces, such as Rajputana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Bharat, and Vindhya Pradesh, made up of multiple princely states; a few, including Mysore, Hyderabad, Bhopal, and Bilaspur, became separate provinces.
    • The Government of India Act 1935 remained the constitutional law of India pending adoption of a new Constitution.
  • The new Constitution of India, which came into force on 26 January 1950, made India a sovereign democratic republic. The new republic was also declared to be a “Union of States”. The constitution of 1950 distinguished between four types of states:
    • Nine Part A states:
      • They were the former governors’ provinces of British India and ruled by an elected governor and state legislature.
      • The nine Part A states were
        • Assam,
        • Bihar,
        • Bombay,
        • Madhya Pradesh (formerly Central Provinces and Berar),
        • Madras,
        • Orissa,
        • Punjab (formerly East Punjab),
        • Uttar Pradesh (formerly the United Provinces), and
        • West Bengal.
    • The eight Part B states:
      • They were former princely states or groups of princely states, governed by a rajpramukh and an elected legislature.
      • The rajpramukh was appointed by the President of India.
      • The Part B states were
        • Hyderabad,
        • Jammu and Kashmir,
        • Madhya Bharat,
        • Mysore,
        • Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU),
        • Rajasthan,
        • Saurashtra, and
        • Travancore-Cochin.
    • The ten Part C states:
      • They included both the former chief commissioners’ provinces and some princely states, and each was governed by a chief commissioner appointed by the President of India.
      • The Part C states were
        • Ajmer,
        • Bhopal,
        • Bilaspur,
        • Coorg,
        • Delhi,
        • Himachal Pradesh,
        • Kutch,
        • Manipur,
        • Tripura, and
        • Vindhya Pradesh.
    • The sole Part D state was the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were administered by a lieutenant governor appointed by the central government.

Movements for linguistic states

Before Independence

  • Demand of states on linguistic basis was developed even before independence of India under British rule.
  • Lokmanya Tilak was perhaps the first national leader to appreciate the diversity of languages and urge the Congress to commence working in vernacular languages.
    • He also advocated reorganisation of the provinces on a linguistic basis.
    • As early as in 1891, he wrote in Kesari:
      • The present administrative division of India is the result of a certain historical process and in some cases purely result of accident… if they are replaced by units formed on a linguistic basis, each of them will have some measure of homogeneity and will provide encouragement to the people and languages of the respective regions.
  • The decision of the All India Congress Committee of the Indian National Congress on 8th April 1917 to constitute a separate Congress Province (Andhra Provincial Congress Committee) from out of the Telugu speaking districts of the Madras Presidency strengthened the argument for the linguistic re-organization of British India provinces.
  • Already a consensus was evolving in British India among several Indian leaders that, for the effective administration, the language of governance and education should be the dominant language of the people, and that provinces, for this purpose, should be re-organized on linguistic lines.
  • But Gandhi thought otherwise, when the proposal to re-organize the provincial committees on linguistic lines came up before the AICC in 1917. Gandhi thought that the question might wait the implementing of Reforms [initiated by the British] but Lokamanya Tilak saw the point, namely, that Linguistic Provinces were an essential condition prerequisite to real Provincial autonomy.
  • The first generation of freedom fighters realised the importance of linguistic states at the time of the partition of Bengal in 1905.
  • European capitalism had had good experience of the democratic effects of language based administrative units.
  • British colonial rule skilfully crafted multilingual administrative territories in India. In pursuit of this policy, H S Risley, the then home secretary, submitted a note to the Crown in December 1903, suggesting the division of Bengal, and then Lord Curzon did divide Bengal, a linguistically homogenous unit, into two religiously heterogeneous units, in order to stem the freedom movement.
    • But this colonial administrative action helped the Bengali speaking people to learn to think in terms of linguistic unity.
    • The movement for reunification of Bengal also gave an impetus to a movement to reorganise the provinces on the basis of language in the eastern region of India.
    • Reflecting this popular sentiment, at its Calcutta session in 1905, Indian National Congress opposed Curzon’s decision. Its resolution stated, “This congress recommends the adoption of some arrangement which would be consistent with administrative efficiency and would place the entire Bengali speaking community under an undivided administration.”
    • Finally, colonial administration was forced to undo the bifurcation of Bengal on religious basis, but at the same time it carved out Assam and Bihar as separate provinces in 1911 on a linguistic basis.
  • However, the acceptance of federalism by the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in 1916 inspired the demands for several such states.
    • On April 8, 1917, on the basis of its Lucknow session’s recommendation, the AICC demanded a Telugu-speaking state carved out of the Madras Presidency.
  • The Home Rule movement also emphasised the need for creation of linguistic provinces.
    • In fact, this movement served as an important milestone in the reorganisation of linguistically homogenous areas.
    • In her presidential address in the Calcutta Congress session in 1917, Annie Besant said, “Sooner or later, preferably sooner, provinces will have to be re-delimited on a linguistic basis.”
    • Why Annie Besant favoured language based provinces?:
      • Annie Besant’s Home Rule movement attracted mostly the South Indians, whose participation was perhaps responsible for the early acceptance of the legitimacy of linguistic identities.
      • Also Mrs. Besant shot in to prominence in the wake of the agitation against the partition of Bengal, an agitation, which should be considered the precursor to subsequent linguistic movements in the country.
  • Subsequently, in its 1920 Nagpur session, the Congress accepted in principle the creation of linguistic states.
    • With this spirit, first the Congress took initiatives to organise their provincial committees on linguistic basis
  • The process that started with the formation of a separate Linguistic Circle of the Indian National Congress for the Telugu-speaking territory became a basic principle for the recognition of the linguistic identity of various populations to carve out the administrative units in India.
  • Language was yet to receive a more serious and detailed scrutiny in relation to the demands for Self-Government.
    • The role of the Indian vernacular for mass-based agitations and for mass communication was very well recognized even in the earliest part of the history of the Indian National Congress, but the demand for its role in administration and education began to be debated with great strength only in the 1920s within the Indian National Congress with the emergence of Gandhi as its supreme leader.
  • In 1927, the Congress again declared that it was committed to “the redistribution of provinces on a linguistic basis”, and reaffirmed its stance several times, including in the election manifesto of 1945-46.
  • The emerging idea of federalism forced the colonial administration in India to appoint a commission on linguistic reorganisation of provinces, headed by Sir John Simon, in 1927.
    • Though diverse claims were put forward before the commission for redistribution of the provincial territories on linguistic basis, the commission observed, “…in no case the linguistic or racial principle can be accepted as the sole test.”
  • It was in response to Simon Commission’s observation that the Nehru Committee submitted its own report in 1928.
    • Consisting of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Sir Ali Imam, Subhash Chandra Bose etc and presided over by Motilal Nehru, this committee represented various trends in the freedom movement, and its report for the first time formally incorporated the demand for linguistic reorganisation of the provinces.
    • The report provided an elaborate justification of the demand, “Partly geographical and partly economic and financial, but the main considerations must necessarily be the wishes of the people and the linguistic unity of the area concerned. Hence, it becomes most desirable for provinces to be regrouped on a linguistic basis.”
  • Odisha was the first Indian state formed on linguistic basis in the year 1936 due to the efforts of Madhusudan Das and became Orissa Province.
    • In Odisha, linguistic movement had started in the year 1895 and intensified later years with the demand of separate province from Bihar and Orissa Province.
  • Meanwhile, at the ground level, aspirations for such states within the territory of India caught the people’s imagination.
    • This principle was subsequently officially adopted by the Congress and included in its election manifesto.
    • On November 27, 1947, in the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) Prime Minister Nehru on behalf of the government of India accepted the principle underlying the demand for linguistic provinces.
  • Though after independence, partition led to fear of further division on the basis of language and many leaders changed their views regarding language based states.

After Independence

  • After independence again Political movements for the creation of new, linguistic-based states developed.
    • The Congress-led Government became concerned that the states formed solely on a linguistic basis might be unsuitable, and might even pose a risk to the national unity.
    • This fear was generated mainly due to division of India.
  • In the interregnum, movements for Ayikya Kerala, Samyukta Maharashtra and Vishalandhra picked up momentum. The Communist Part of India took the lead in forging these movements and popularising the concept of linguistic states in India and its efficacy in democratisation of independent India.
  • A separate linguistic state of Andhra turned out to be a hot issue.
    • In the Constituent Assembly itself, the government of India made a statement that Andhra could be mentioned as a separate unit in the new constitution, thus prompting the drafting committee to constitute a separate committee to inquire into the demands of linguistic states.
    • It was thus that the Dhar commission came into existence with a mandate to examine and report on the formation of new provinces of Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra.

Linguistic Provinces Commission (or Dar Commission):

  • On 17 June 1948, Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly, set up the Linguistic Provinces Commission to recommend whether the states should be reorganized on linguistic basis or not.
  • The committee included SK Dar (retired Judge of the Allahabad High Court), JN Lal (lawyer) and Panna Lall (retired Indian Civil Service officer).
  • In its 10 December 1948 report, the Commission recommended that “the formation of provinces on exclusively or even mainly linguistic considerations is not in the larger interests of the Indian nation“.
  • The commission went on to say, “bilingual districts in border areas, which have developed an economic and organic life of their own, should not be broken up and should be disposed off on considerations of their own special needs.”
  • The commission asked the government of India to reorganise the states on the basis of
    • geographical continuity,
    • financial self-sufficiency,
    • administrative convenience and
    • capacity for future development.

JVP committee:

  • Dhar Commission created much resentment and led to the appointment of another Linguistic Provinces Committee by the Congress in December 1948 itself to examine the whole question afresh.
  • Congress, at its Jaipur session, set up the “JVP committee” to study the recommendations of the Dar Commission.
  • The committee, comprised Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel, and the Congress president Pattabhi Sitaramayya.
  • The committee shifted the emphasis from language as the basis to security, unity and economic prosperity, thus backtracking on the party’s own election manifesto.
  • This was perhaps influenced by the situation prevailing immediately after the partition.
  • The three-member committee felt that, in Patel’s words, supporting “such federal demands will come in the way of growth of India as a nation.”
  • In its report dated 1 April 1949, the Committee stated that the time was not suitable for formation of new provinces, but also stated “if public sentiment is insistent and overwhelming, we, as democrats, have to submit to it, but subject to certain limitations in regard to the good of India as a whole.”

Views of leaders

  • B. R. Ambedkar:
    • He submitted a Memorandum (dated 14 October 1948) to the Dar Commission, supporting the formation of linguistic provinces, specifically the formation of the Marathi-majority Maharashtra state with Bombay as its capital.
    • To address the concern of national unity, he suggested that the official language of every province should be same as the official language of the Central Government.
    • Ambedkar supported “One state, One language” but not “One language, One state
  • KM Munshi:
    • He was a Gujarati leader and was opposed to incorporation of Bombay in the proposed Maharashtra state.
    • He opposed the linguistic reorganization proposal, saying that “the political ambition of a linguistic group can only be satisfied by the exclusion and discrimination of other linguistic groups within the area.
    • No safeguards and no fundamental rights can save them from the subtle psychological exclusion which linguism implies.”
  • J L Nehru and V.K. Krishna:
    • He saw more clearly than most the dangers of linguistic chauvinism as he did the menace of communalism.
    • Given the Congress’ endorsement of the idea of linguistic provinces over 30 years ago, Nehru and Patel fought a rearguard action to stave off the inevitable.
    • Nehru’s confidant V.K. Krishna Menon’s asserted that the agitation for a Malayalam-speaking State was a recent and artificial one and backed only by parties seeking ‘conquest of power’.
      • Krishna Menon alleged that the anticipated recommendation of the States Reorganisation Commission pertaining to the creation of separate Kerala and Tamil States was inspired by the personal views of one of the members of the Commission (the reference being to K. M. Panikkar), and said that the recommendation was inadvisable for economic, political, administrative, strategic and national security reasons.
      • As a sectarian sub-nationalism of fascist orientation was developing in the Tamil country, he argued, a separate Tamil province would be very anti-national, while the Kerala State would doubtless go Communist after the next general elections with disastrous domestic and international consequences.
      • Krishna Menon added: ‘We will Balkanise India if we further dismember the State instead of creating larger units’.”
      • In his note to Nehru of September 28, 1955, Krishna Menon suggested the creation of “a Southern State, a Dakshin Pradesh, as a corollary to Uttar Pradesh, which could include the present Tamil Nadu, Travancore, Cochin, Malabar and possibly Kanara up to Kasaragode.”

First Linguistic State: Andhra

  • This was the time when the Communist Party of India and Andhra Mahasabha were mobilising the masses in the princely state of Hyderabad against the Nizam’s rule.
    • Formation of a separate state of Vishalandhra, consisting of all Telugu speaking people scattered across three regions, was one of the slogans of Andhra Mahasabha.
    • As the movement progressed, this slogan caught the people’s imagination.
  • A majority of the landlords and razakars opposed the formation of Vishalandhra and supported the Hyderabad commissionery as it could protect their proprietary interests.
  • The Telangana struggle of 1946-51 brought the key issues of land reforms and linguistic states back on the agenda and the central government had to finally take note of these issues.
  • The whole development proved very costly for the Congress.
    • In the first general elections held in 1952, the Telugu people elected with thumping majorities those who had fought for Vishalandhra.
    • In the Madras legislative assembly, the Congress could get a mere 43 out of the 140 seats falling in the Andhra region.
  • Though with some difficulties, the Congress foisted upon the province Rajagopalachari as the chief minister, and thus was scuttled the chances for the formation of a non-Congress government in undivided Madras, which would have been the first non-Congress government in independent India.
  • Backed by the tremendous support from Telugu people for Vishalandhra, on July 16, 1952, P Sundarayya moved a private member’s bill in parliament seeking the formation of a linguistic Andhra state.
    • In this speech, Sundarayya said, “Rather than with this kind of multilingual states, the country will be more united once the linguistic reorganisation of states is done… If these demands are not met, the situation will be more volatile.”
    • Sundarayya also tried to assuage Nehru’s fears about security and integrity of the newly independent India by saying, “The linguistic states, instead of being a threat to the integrity of the country, can support and consolidate national security and integrity in a much more effective way.”
    • But Nehru and the Congress were not convinced and Nehru refused to concede the demand.
  • On the other hand, dissatisfied with Congress inaction on the demand, Potti Sri Ramulu, a prominent Congress leader from Andhra region, died after 58 days of fast. Sri Ramulu’s death engulfed the entire Andhra in a chaos.
    • The spontaneous protests were so widespread and intense that the central government was forced to give in to the demand and for this purpose brought a bill in parliament on September 2, 1953.
    • The government at that time took enough caution not to use the word “linguistic state.”
    • Speaking in Rajya Sabha on this occasion, Sundarayya criticised the Nehru government severely. He said, “even after 30 years of experience, the government is trying to negate the principle of linguistic states by merely refuting it. People will succeed in getting the linguistic states formed.”
  • Finally, Nehru had to come to terms with the popular sentiments and announce on the floor of Lok Sabha the formation of Andhra Rashtram with undisputed 14 districts.
    • Thus on October 1, 1953, the new state of Andhra Rashtram came into being through bifurcation of Madras province.(But still Hyderabad regions of Telugu speaking areas, what we call Telangana, was not included).
    • This sparked of agitations all over the country, with linguistic groups demanding separate statehoods.

Further Protests

  • Creation of Andhra Rashtram strengthened the struggle for Vishalandhra (which would contain all Telugu speaking areas) and also for United Kerala and Samyukta Maharashtra.
  • Yielding to pressures and mass mobilisation, the Nehru government set up a States Reorganisation Commission (SRC), also known as Fazal Ali commission.

State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) or Fazl Ali Commission:

  • The creation of Andhra state intensified the demand from other regions for creation of states on linguistic basis. This forced the Government of India to appoint (in December 1953) a three-member States Reorganisation Commission under the chairmanship of Fazl Ali to re-examine the whole question. Its other two members were K M Panikkar and H N Kunzru.
  • It submitted its report in September 1955 and broadly accepted language as the basis of reorganisation of states.
    • But, it rejected the theory of ‘one language–one state’.
    • Its view was that the unity of India should be regarded as the primary consideration in any redrawing of the country’s political units.
    • It identified four major factors that can be taken into account in any scheme of reorganisation of states:
      • Preservation and strengthening of the unity and security of the country.
      • Linguistic and cultural homogeneity.
      • Financial, economic and administrative considerations.
      • Planning and promotion of the welfare of the people in each state as well as of the nation as a whole.
    • The commission suggested the abolition of the four-fold classification of states under the original Constitution and creation of 16 states and 3 centrally administered territories.
    • It also recommended that:
      • The institution of Rajapramukh and special agreement with former princely states should be abolished.
      • The general control vested in Government of India by Article 371 should be abolished
  • The Government of India accepted these recommendations with certain minor modifications.
    • By the States Reorganisation Act (1956) and the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act (1956), the distinction between Part-A and Part-B states was done away with and Part-C states were abolished.
    • Some of them were merged with adjacent states and some other were designated as union territories. As a result, 14 states and 6 union territories were created on November 1, 1956.

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956:

  • The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 was a major reform of the boundaries of India’s states and territories, organising them along linguistic lines.
  • The Act came into effect at the same time as the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956, which (among other things) restructured the constitutional framework for India’s existing states and the requirements to pass the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 under the provisions of Articles 3 & 4 of the constitution.
  • Under the Seventh Amendment, the existing distinction among Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D states was abolished. The distinction between Part A and Part B states was removed, becoming known simply as “states”. A new type of entity, the union territory, replaced the classification as a Part C or Part D state.
  • The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 implemented some of the recommendations of the SRC.
    • In addition to the three Union Territories (UTs) proposed by the SRC, it also established Laccadive, Minicoy & Amindivi Islands, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura as UTs.
    • It established a total of 14 states in addition to these UTs. The states were:
      • Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • The States Reorganisation Act of 1956:
    • It established the new state of Kerala by merging the Travancore – Cochin State with the Malabar District of Madras state and Kasargode of South Canara (Dakshina Kannada).
    • It also merged:
      • Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad state with the Andhra state to create the Andhra Pradesh state.
      • Madya Bharat state, Vindya Pradesh state and Bhopal state into the Madya Pradesh state.
      • Saurashtra state and Kutch state into that of the Bombay state, the Coorg state into that of Mysore state
      • Patiala and East Punjab States Union (Pepsu) into that of Punjab state
      • Ajmer state into that of Rajastan state.
    • It created the new union territory of Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands from the territory detached from the Madras state.
    • Concept of Zonal Council:
      • With a view to promoting cooperation among various states, the act provided for five zonal councils—-for the northern, central, eastern, western and southern zone states, respectively.

Following recommendations of the commission were not accepted (or done later on):


  • The SRC recommended formation of separate Vidarbha State by splitting majority Marathi speaking areas from Madhya Pradesh state.
  • However, the Indian government has not accepted the recommendation and merged these areas in the predominantly Marathi speaking Bombay state.

Andhra- Telangana

  • Telangana state would have been the second state for the Telugu speaking people beside Andhra state as per the SRC recommendation but it was not accepted in the Act.
  • The Commission’s report judged the arguments for and against the merger of the Telugu-majority Telangana region (of Hyderabad State) and the Andhra State (created in 1953).
    • It was recommended that it will be in the interests of Andhra as well as Telangana, if for the present, the Telangana area is to constitute into a separate State, which may be known as the Hyderabad State with provision for its unification with Andhra after the general elections likely to be held in or about 1961 if by a two thirds majority the legislature of the residency Hyderabad State expresses itself in favor of such unification”.
  • In Hyderabad assembly more than two-third MLA’s supported the merger and opposed the Fazal Ali Commission’s recommendation to keep Telangana as a separate State for 5 years.
  • An agreement was reached between Telangana leaders and Andhra leaders on 20 February 1956 to merge Telangana and Andhra with promises to safeguard Telangana’s interests.
    • The Gentlemen’s agreement of Andhra Pradesh was signed between Telangana and Andhra leaders before the formation of the state of Andhra Pradesh in 1956.
    • The agreement provided safeguards with the purpose of preventing discrimination against Telangana by the government of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Following the Gentlemen’s agreement, the central government established a unified Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956.
  • There have been several movements to invalidate the merger of Telangana and Andhra, major ones occurring in 1969, 1972 and 2000s onwards.
    • The Telangana movement gained momentum over decades becoming a widespread political demand of creating a new state from the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
    • In early 2014, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 was approved by the Indian parliament, and Telangana became India’s 29th state on 2 June 2014.

Belgaum border dispute

  • After India became independent in 1947, the Belgaum district (which was in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency) became a part of the Bombay State.
  • The award of the Belgaum district to the Kannada-majority Mysore State (later Karnataka) was contested by the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti, which wanted it to be included in the proposed Marathi-majority Maharashtra state.

Punjabi Suba

  • The Akali Dal, a Sikh-dominated political party active mainly in Punjab, sought to create a Punjabi Suba province. This new state would be a Sikh-majority state, which caused concern among the Punjabi Hindus.
  • The Sikh leaders such Fateh Singh tactically stressed the linguistic basis of the demand, while downplaying its religious basis — a state where the distinct Sikh identity could be preserved.
  • The Hindu newspapers from Jalandhar, exhorted the Punjabi Hindus to declare Hindi as their “mother tongue”, so that the Punjabi Suba proponents could be deprived of the argument that their demand was solely linguistic.
  • The States Reorganization Commission rejected the demand for a Punjabi-majority state saying that it lacked a majority support and that Punjabi was not grammatically very distinct from Hindi. Though the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) was merged with Punjab.
  • Akali Dal continued its movement, and in 1966 the Punjab Reorganisation Act split Punjab into the Sikh-majority Punjab state and the Hindu-majority state of Haryana, with Chandigarh, administered as a separate union territory, as the shared capital of the two states. Union Territory of Himachal was also made state by including hilly areas of Punjab.


  • On the basis of the percentage of the people speaking Tamil, the S.R. Commission recommended for the transfer of four taluks namely, Agasteeswaram, Thovalai, Kalkulam and Vilavancode to Tamil Nadu from the State of Travancore-Cochin.
  • The same yard stick was used for the transfer of Shenkotta Taluk to Tamil Nadu.
  • While dealing with Devikulam and Peermede taluks, even though the majority was Tamil-speaking people and the representatives to the State Assembly were Tamils, the commission used a different yard stick and recommended to retain in Travancore-Cochin State due to geographical reasons.
  • Even though Shenkotta was fully transferred by the commission, the Joint Committee appointed to fix the exact boundaries of the states, divided Shenkotta Taluk and allowed Travancore–Cochin State to retain a major portion.

New States and Union Territories Created After 1956

  • Even after the large-scale reorganisation of the states in 1956, the political map of India underwent continuous change due to the pressure of popular agitations and political conditions. The demand for the creation of some more states on the basis of language or cultural homogeneity resulted in the bifurcation of existing states.

Division of the State of Bombay: (Maharashtra and Gujarat)

  • In 1960, as a result of agitation and violence (In Mahagujarat Movement, Bombay State was reorganised on linguistic lines), the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created by bifurcating the state of Bombays—Maharashtra for Marathi-speaking people and Gujarat for Gujarati-speaking people.
  • Gujarat was established as the 15th state of the Indian Union

Territories from France and Portuguese

  • After the acquisition of Chandernagore, Mahe, Yaman and Karekal from France, and the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu from the Portuguese, these were either merged with the neighbouring states or given the status of union territories.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

  • The Portuguese ruled this territory until its liberation in 1954. Subsequently, the administration was carried on till 1961 by an administrator chosen by the people themselves.
  • It was converted into a union territory of India by the 10th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1961.

Goa, Daman and Diu

  • India acquired these three territories from the Portuguese by means of a police action in 1961. They were constituted as a union territory by the 12th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1962.
  • Later, in 1987, Goa was conferred a statehood. Consequently, Daman and Diu was made a separate union territory.


  • The territory of Puducherry comprises the former French establishments in India known as Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The French handed over this territory to India in 1954.
  • Subsequently, it was administered as an ‘acquired territory’, till 1962 when it was made a union territory by the 14th Constitutional Amendment Act.

Formation of Nagaland

  • In 1963, the state of Nagaland was formed to placate the Nagas taking the Naga Hills and Tuensang area out of the state of Assam.
  • However, before providing it the status of a full-fledged state, it was placed under the control of the Governor of Assam in 1961. With this the strength of the Indian states rose to 16.

Shah Commission and formation of Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh

  • In 1966, the Parliament passed the Punjab Reorganization Act after an agitation for the formation of Punjabi Suba. This step was taken on the recommendation of the Shah Commission (1966) appointed in April, 1966. This followed the demand for a separate ‘Sikh Homeland’ (Punjabi Subha) raised by the Akali Dal under the leadership of Master Tara Singh.
  • As a result of this act, the Punjabi-speaking areas were constituted into the unilingual state of Punjab, the Hindi-speaking areas were constituted into the State of Haryana and the hill areas were merged with the adjoining union territory of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Chandigarh was made a Union Territory and was to serve as a common capital of Punjab and Haryana.
  • The two states were also to have a common High Court, common university and joint arrangement for the management of the major components of the existing irrigation and power system.
  • With the division of Punjab, the strength of states rose to 17.
  • In 1971, the union territory of Himachal Pradesh was elevated to the status of a state (18th state of the Indian Union).

Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya

  • In 1972, the two Union Territories of Manipur and Tripura and the Sub-State of Meghalaya got statehood and the two union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh (originally known as North-East Frontier Agency—NEFA) came into being.
  • With this, the number of states of the Indian Union increased to 21 (Manipur 19th, Tripura 20th and Meghalaya 21st). Initially, the 22nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1969) created Meghalaya as an ‘autonomous state’ or ‘sub-state’ within the state of Assam with its own legislature and council of ministers.
  • The union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were also formed out of the territories of Assam.


  • Till 1947, Sikkim was an Indian princely state ruled by Chogyal. In 1947, after the lapse of British paramountcy, Sikkim became a ‘protectorate’ of India, whereby the Indian Government assumed responsibility for the defence, external affairs and communications of Sikkim.
  • In 1974, Sikkim expressed its desire for greater association with India. Accordingly, the 35 th Constitutional Amendment Act (1974) was enacted by the parliament. This amendment introduced a new class of statehood under the constitution by conferring on Sikkim the status of an ‘associate state’ of the Indian Union. For this purpose, a new Article 2A and a new schedule (Tenth Schedule containing the terms and conditions of association) were inserted in the Constitution.
  • This experiment, however, did not last long as it could not fully satisfy the aspirations of the people of Sikkim. In a referendum held in 1975, they voted for the abolition of the institution of Chogyal and Sikkim becoming an integral part of India.
  • Consequently, the 36th Constitutional Amendment Act (1975) was enacted to make Sikkim a full-fledged state of the Indian Union (the 22nd state). This amendment amended the First and the Fourth Schedules to the Constitution and added a new Article 371-F to provide for certain special provisions with respect to the administration of Sikkim. It also repealed Article 2A and the Tenth Schedule that were added by the 35th Amendment Act of 1974.

Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa

  • In 1987, three new States of Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa came into being as the 23rd, 24th and 25th states respectively.
  • The Union Territory of Mizoram was conferred the status of a full state as a sequel to the signing of a memorandum of settlement (Mizoram Peace Accord) in 1986 between the Central government and the Mizo National Front, ending the two-decade-old insurgency.
  • Arunachal Pradesh had also been a union territory from 1972.
  • The State of Goa was created by separating the territory of Goa from the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu.

Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand

  • In 2000, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhandand Jharkhandwere created out of the territories of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively. These became the 26th, 27th and 28th states of the Indian Union respectively.


  • In 2014, the new state of Telangana came into existence as the 29th state of the Indian Union.
  • It was carved out of the territories of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Andhra state Act of 1953 formed the first linguistic state of India, known as the state of Andhra, by taking out the Telugu speaking areas from the State of Madras (now Tamil Nadu), Kurnool was the capital of Andhra state and the state high court was established at Guntur.
  • The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 merged the Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad state with the Andhra state to create the enlarged Andhra Pradesh state. The capital of the state was shifted to Hyderabad.
  • Again, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014 bifurcated the Andhra Pradesh into two separate states, namely, the Andhra Pradesh (residuary) and the Telangana.
  • Hyderabad is made the joint capital for both the states for a period of 10 years. During this period, the Andhra Pradesh should establish its own separate capital. Similarly, the Andhra Pradesh High Court is renamed as the Hyderabad High Court (High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad) and is made common for both the states till a separate High Court is set-up for the State of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Thus, the number of states and union territories increased from 14 and 6 in 1956 to 29 and 7 in 2014 respectively.
  • (In 2019, after Jammu Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the number of states and the Union Territories are 28 and 9 respectively)

Q. What benefits were served by linguistic state to India?

  • Led to nurturing and promotion of the regional languages and culture, strengthening the country overall.
  • Led to better interaction among people of the states with their democratically elected governments without going through hassles of getting translations of sort. It didn’t, mind, stop those who wanted to, to learn other languages and go to other states.
  • Led to consolidation of the federal structure. People realized that it was easy and peaceful to be Hindi-speaking and Indian, Tamil-speaking and Indian, Gujarati-speaking and Indian etc.
  • Led to growth of English as a medium of inter-state and state-Centre communication, which would have been difficult had the states not been more or less linguistically homogenous. Absence of a united opposition (which is possible for groups of linguistic states) might have led to more pronounced superiority complex of the major language.
  • Led to better penetration of power to grass-roots level and local governments and better consolidation of democracy. A linguistically heterogeneous state would have difficulty getting together the democratic units and getting messages across to its people.
  • There might have been discriminations when people from other places visit a particular state, or led to significant minorities in a state demanding recognition for their language (Bengali in Assam, Konkani in Maharashtra as well as at the Centre),but things were eventually sorted out.
  • Federalism with a strong Centre is India’s model. That the federalism is based on language, is probably in India’s favour. Had it not been so, states might have fought over regions to incorporate. Instead, linguistic division gives a mathematical objective basis for division.

Reorganisation of North-East India:


Creation of latest state Telangana:

More Demands:

8 thoughts on “The linguistic reorganisation of states”

  1. How would I cite this for an essay? Is there an author I can reference? Great article- very helpful!


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