After the Independence in 1947, the most immediate and important tasks before the Indian leaders were the drafting of the constitution and the integration of Indian states into the Indian union. They had also been vested with the responsibility of making India economically sound and scientifically modern. In the long term perspective, the most challenging tasks ahead have been the removal poverty and the progress of education among the masses for which the successive governments continue to take necessary steps.
The Constituent Assembly began its work on 9th December 1946 and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as its Chairman. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was appointed as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee. After a detailed discussion, the Constitution of India was finally adopted on 26th November 1949. The Constitution came into effect on 26th January 1950. Since then the day is celebrated as Republic Day.
The salient features of the Indian Constitution are the adult suffrage, Parliamentary system, Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. It provides a combination of federal and unitary forms of governance at the centre and the powers of the government have been clearly stated in the three lists: Central, State and Concurrent.
The President is the constitutional head of the state while the Prime Minister is the head of the Executive. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party that has a majority in the Lok Sabha. The Indian Parliament has two houses - the Rajya Sabha or upper house and the Lok Sabha or lower house. Each state has its own government headed by the Chief Minister who remains the leader of the majority party in the respective Legislative Aassembly. Thus, democratically elected governments rule the nation and provision is made for periodical elections.
The judiciary remains the upholder of the constitution. The Indian judiciary system consists of the Supreme Court at the centre and High Courts in the states. The subordinate courts in each state are under the control of the High Court.
At the time of Independence there were 11 British provinces and nearly 566 princely states. After the departure of the British from India the princes of Indian states began to dream of independence. With great skill and masterful diplomacy Sardar Vallabhai Patel succeeded in integrating the princely states with the Indian union by 15 August 1947. Only three of them - Junagadh, Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad - refused to join.
The ruler of Junagadh expressed his willingness to join Pakistan against the wishes of the people of that state. Patel sent Indian troops and after a plebiscite Junagadh joined Indian Union.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir bordered India and Pakistan. Its ruler was Raja Hari Singh. In the beginning he also claimed independent status. When the Pathan tribes led by Pakistan army officers invaded Kashmir, Hari Singh sought the help of India. Nehru pointed out that under international law India could send its troops only after the state's accession to India. Therefore, on 26thOctober 1947, Raja Hari Singh signed the 'instrument of accession' and Jammu and Kashmir has become an integral part of India.
In the case of Hyderabad the Nizam refused to join the Indian union. After repeated appeals, in 1948 Indian troops moved into Hyderabad and the Nizam surrendered. Finally, Hyderabad acceded to the Indian Union.
Thus the Union of India was established with the integration and accession of the princely states with the Indian Union. This formidable task was fulfilled by the 'Iron Man of India' Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
In 1948, the first Linguistic Provinces Commission headed by S.K. Dar was appointed by the Constituent Assembly to enquire into the possibility of linguistic provinces. This commission advised against such a step. In the same year another committee known as JVP committee consisting of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramaih was appointed by the Congress Party. This committee also did not favour for linguistic provinces. But there were popular movements for states reorganization all over the country and it was intensive in Andhra. Therefore, in 1953 Andhra was created as a separate state. Simultaneously, Madras was created as a Tamil- speaking state. The struggle led by M.P. Sivagnanam to retain Tiruttani with Madras was a memorable event in the history of Tamil Nadu.
The success of Andhra struggle encouraged other linguistic groups to agitate for their own state. In 1953, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed the States Reorganization Commission with Justice Fazal Ali as its chairman and Pandit Hridayanath Kunzru and Sardar K.M. Panikkar as its members. The commission submitted its report on 30 September 1955. Based on this report, the States Reorganization Act was passed by the Parliament in 1956. It provided for 16 states and six union territories. The Telengana region was transferred to Andhra. Kerala was created by merging the Malabar district with Travancore-Cochin. There was a strong movement of the Tamil linguistic people in Travancore (Kaniyakumari) who struggled to be part of the state of Tamil Nadu.
India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was considered the architect of modern India. He consolidated the Indian Independence by forging national unity, nurturing democratic institutions, promoting science and technology, planning for economic development and by following independent foreign policy. He was truly a nation builder. He died in 1964.
Lal Bahadur Sastri succeeded Nehru as the next Prime Minister of India. He remained a role model for honesty in public life. He ended the Indo-Pak war of 1965 by concluding the Tashkent Agreement in January 1966. His untimely death was a great loss to the nation.
Indira Gandhi, daughter of Nehru became Prime Minister in 1966 and bravely faced the domestic challenges such as scarcity of food and foreign pressures during the 1971 Bangladesh crisis. When opposition to her rule gathered momentum in 1975, she brought emergency rule, a black mark in the democratic tradition of India. However, she restored democratic rule by announcing general elections in 1977 in which she was defeated. Later in 1980 she was able to regain power by democratic means. In 1983 she undertook 'Blue Star Operation' in the Golden Temple at Amritsar - Punjab. As a result, unfortunately, she was shot dead by her own bodyguards in 1984 as a vengeance to her policy towards Punjab militancy.
The Janata Party rule for brief period between 1977 and 1980 brought Morarji Desai as Prime Minister of India. For the first time a non-Congress ministry was formed after independence. The lack of unity among the Janata leaders had resulted in the fall of the Janata Government.
Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India in 1984 after her mother Indira Gandhi's assassination. He introduced New Education Policy and encouraged foreign investment. In 1987 he sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka with a view to put an end to the ethnic violence. He continued as Prime Minister till the next elections held in 1989. Later in May 1991, he was assassinated (by the Sri Lankan Tamil extremists).
V.P. Singh was the Prime Minister between 1989 and 1991. He was leading an anti-Congress coalition called the Janata Dal. During his tenure he decided to implement the Mandal Commission Report which provided reservation for other backward classes. His government was marked by factionalism, and he was forced to resign in 1990. V.P. SINGH The next Prime Minister Chandrasekhar held the office from November 1990 to March 1991.
In June 1991 P. V. Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister. He moved decisively toward new economic reforms, reducing the government's economic role, instituting austerity measures, and encouraging foreign investment. The finance minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's role in this sphere is worth noting. As a result, India started moving towards liberalization, privatization and globalization.
After the elections of 1996, Atal Bihari Vajpayee became Prime Minister from the BJP party but he was not able to prove majority in the Parliament. Deve Gowda formed a coalition government. He was the eleventh Prime Minister of India (1996- 1997). He was from the state of Karnataka. His government also fell due to the no confidence motion voted jointly by the Congress and the BJP. He was succeeded by I.K. Gujral for a brief period in 1997. Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India in 1998. In the 1999 elections the National Democratic Alliance under the leadership of Vajpayee formed the government. His period witnessed two important events. One was the Kargil War with Pakistan and another was the nuclear tests at Pokhran.
The National Planning Commission was established on 15 March 1950 with the Prime Minister Nehru as its chairperson. The main objectives of the Planning Commission were:
To achieve higher level of national and per capita income.
To achieve full employment.
To reduce inequalities of income and wealth.
To setup a society based on equality and justice and absence of exploitation.
The First Five Year Plan (1951-1956) tried to complete the projects at hand including the rehabilitation of refugees. It was only during the Second Five Year Plan (1956-61) Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis, the noted economist played a leading role. This plan aimed at developing the industrial sector in the country. Rapid industrialization with particular emphasis in the development of basic and heavy industries continued during the Third Five Year Plan (1961-66). During this period many iron and steel, chemical, fertilizers, heavy engineering and machine building industries were set up in different parts of India.
The objective of the Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74) was
'growth with stability' and 'progressive achievement of self reliance'. The original draft outline of the plan was prepared in 1966 under the stewardship of Ashok Mehta. Popular economic slogan during this time was Garibi Hatao (Removal of poverty). The Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79) was introduced at a time when the country was under severe economic crisis arising out of inflation. There was increase in oil price. But the plan was dropped at the end of the fourth year of the plan in March 1978 by the Janata Government.
The Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85) aimed at strengthening the infrastructure for both agriculture and industry and meet the minimum basic needs of the people. The Seventh Five Year Plan (1985 - 90) emphasized on accelerating the growth of food grains production, increasing employment opportunities and raising productivity. The Eighth Five Year Plan (1992 - 97) aimed to achieve the goals, namely, improvement in the levels of living, health and education of the people, full employment, and elimination of poverty and planned growth of population. The main objectives of the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997 - 2002) were to give priority to agricultural sector, to remove poverty, to control prices, to provide food to the weaker sections, population control, to develop panchayat administration and to uplift the depressed classes as well as tribal people.
Despite creditable growth of agricultural output in the 1950s India faced food shortage in the mid sixties. The increase in population and the huge outlay to the plan of industrialization put pressures on agricultural growth. India was forced to import millions of tons of food grains. The two wars with China (1962) and Pakistan (1965) and two successive drought years (1965-66) brought enormous pressures to food production. In this background the Green Revolution was launched in India with the aim of achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
The then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Food Minister, C. Subramanian, and Indira Gandhi, who succeeded Sastri in 1966 after his brief tenure, put their efforts to the development of agriculture. The term Green Revolution was coined by Dr William Gadd of USA in 1968, when Indian farmers brought about a great advancement in wheat production. The introduction of modern methods of agriculture such as high-yield variety seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides agricultural machineries such as tractors, pump-sets and agricultural education considerably increased the food grain production in India. India attained food self-sufficiency by the 1980s. The effects of Green Revolution were notable in the north-western region of Punjab, Haryana and western U.P., Andhra Pradesh, parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Independent India has also witnessed a tremendous growth in the sphere of science and technology. After 1947, Nehru became aware of the significant role of scientific research and technology for the progress of India. India's first national laboratory, the National Physical Laboratory was established in 1947. It was followed by seventeen such national laboratories for specializing in different areas of research. Nehru himself assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
In 1952, the first Indian Institute of Technology, on the model of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was set up at Kharagpur. Subsequently, IITs were set up at Madras, Bombay, Kanpur and Delhi. The expenditure on scientific research and science-based activities has increased year by year.
There are about 200 research laboratories in India carrying out research in different areas. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) which was set up in 1971 has been assigned the responsibility of formulating science policy.
India was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the importance of nuclear energy. The Atomic Energy Commission was set up in August 1948 under the chairmanship of Homi J. Baba to formulate a policy for all atomic energy activities in the country. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was set up 1954 as executive agency for implementing the atomic energy programmes. In 1956, India's first nuclear reactor in Trombay near Bombay (first in Asia also) began to function. Research and development work in the field of atomic energy and allied fields are carried out at three research centres, namely the Bhabha Atomic Research Center at Trombay, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu and the Center for Advanced Technology, Chennai.
India has also evinced interest in space research. The Indian National Committee for Space Research was set up in 1962. Side by side, a Rocket Launching Facility at Thumba came up. The first generation Indian National Satellite System (INSAT-1) represents India's first step towards implementing national requirements. The INSAT - 1A and the INSAT - 1B served country's need in the field of telecommunications and meteorological earth observations.
The ISRO [Indian Space Research Organization] looks after the activities in space science, technology and applications. T h e Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Trivandrum, the largest of the ISRO centres, is primarily responsible for indigenous launch vehicle technology. The ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore is the satellite technology base of the Indian space programme.
The SHAR Centre, encompassing the Sriharikota Island in Andhra Pradesh on the east coast of India is the main operational base of ISRO which is the satellite launching range.
After 1947, India began to follow an independent foreign policy. It was designed by the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He developed the basic principles of India's foreign policy. He was the architect of the Non-aligned Movement during the Cold War era. Also, he extended support to colonial countries in their struggle for independence. Nehru outlined the five principles of coexistence or Panch Sheel for conducting relations among countries. They are:
mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty
non-interference in each other's internal affairs
equality and mutual benefit and
India plays an active role in international bodies such as the Common Wealth and the United Nations Organization. After the Independence, Nehru decided to stay within Common Wealth, an organization consisting of former British colonies. India had also played an active role in the UN peacekeeping forces in various parts of the world. It had sent its troops as part of UN peace-keeping Mission to Korea, Indo-China, Suez Canal and The Congo.
India had to fight three major wars [1965, 1971 and 2000] with Pakistan over the issue of Kashmir.
India maintained friendly relations with both USA and USSR during the Cold War era. In 1971 India and USSR signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance during the Bangladesh crisis.
India and China are the two most important powers of Asia. These two are the most populous countries of the World. Also, they possess the significance of proud, history and civilization dating back to ancient times. When the communist regime under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung was established in 1949, India was one among the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China. In spite of India's friendly relations with China India had to defend herself when China attacked India in 1962. The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state with the active help of India was an important event. During the liberation struggle between East Pakistan and West Pakistan India supported East Pakistan. The coordinated approach of the Indian forces along with Mukti Bahini ultimately led to the liberation of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) in December 1971 India is maintaining friendly relations right from the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.