Q. 34.7( 3 Votes )
Language became a central rallying point in Indian politics on many occasions, either as a unifying force or as a divisive element. Identify these instances and describe them.
When India gained independence it was deeply divided. Religion had already torn the country into two. There were fears about the security and stability of India. Due to the multilingual character of the Indian state, it faced the demands for the reorganization of states on the basis of language. It was felt that this division on a linguistic basis would lead to the further breakup of the country. But the Congress leadership undertook this daunting task and promised to restructure the country on these lines.
Earlier people speaking different languages were living together. For instance, Madras Presidency constituted people speaking Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada Telugu, gondi and Oriya languages.
The first demand for reorganization came in 1953 from the Telugu speaking people of Andhra state. Potti Sriramulu was in the forefront of this movement. He went on a 58-day hunger strike after which he died. This led to outrage among people and a prolong agitation to separate the Telugu speaking areas from the state of Madras. Consequently, their demand was recognized and the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were created.
Similar demands came from other parts of the country. In order to deal with this issue, Nehru appointed the States Reorganization Commission in 1953 to address the issue of formation of states on the basis of linguistic principle. Based on its report, the states reorganization act was passed in 1956 which led to the creation of 14 new states and 6 union territories. As more demands came for separate states, they were recognized by the government.
At present, India has 29 states and 7 union territories. The fears that were developed at the time of independence did not achieve fruition. The creation of states on the basis of language did not hamper the unity of India but rather consolidated the union.
Another instance related to the position of language is the anti-Hindi agitation staged by DMK leaders with the passing of the Official Languages Act in 1963. It was seen as an attempt by the central government to impose Hindi language on the rest of the people. The country was divided between pro-Hindi and anti-Hindi camps. The state-wide campaigns led to a series of concessions by the central government. These included the right of each state to have a language of its own. English would be the medium of communication between the centre and states and many more. Thus it was ensured that things remain in control.
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