CBSE Class 8 History Chapter 10 India After Independence – Detailed explanation of the chapter ‘India After Independence’ along with question answers. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with all the exercises, Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson.
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In this chapter we will study about India after it achieved independence in the year 1947
India got independence on 15th August 1947. Soon after its independence, it faced a series of challenges. Due to partition, nearly 8 million refugees had come into India. These people needed homes and jobs. Then there was the problem of the princely states, they were about 500 in number. So, each Raja or Nawab was persuaded to join the nation. A new political system was to be made in order to serve the country in a better way.
In 1947, India’s population was large. There were almost 345 million people. They were divided into various castes and religions; their language was different and so were their food habits. It was not an easy thing to make them live together in one nation state. Not only this, there was a need for development also. A vast majority of Indians lived in the villages during independence. Farmers and peasants depended on the monsoon for their survival. So did the non farm sector of the rural economy. For example, if the crop failed, the barbers, carpenters and weavers were not paid for their services. In cities, the factory workers lived in the slum areas which were crowded and unhealthy. There was no access to education.
So, Unity and development had to go hand in hand because if there was no unity among different sections of society, it could result in costlier conflicts. On the other hand, if development cannot reach everyone, it will create a division between the rich and the poor.
So, due to such things, it was decided to write a constitution for the country.
Almost three hundred meetings of the Constituent Assembly took place at New Delhi between December 1946 and November 1949. The participants at these meetings were from different political parties and from different parts of the country. These discussions resulted in the framing of the Constitution of India which came into effect from 26 January 1950.
One feature of the constitution was universal adult franchise, that is the right to vote was given to all Indians who were above the age of 21. This was a revolutionary step. It allowed Indians to choose their leaders.
In other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, the right to vote was first granted only to the men of property, then the educated men were added. Working class men got the right to vote after a long struggle. American and British women were granted the right to vote after a long struggle. Whereas India granted this right to every man and woman irrespective of gender, class or education.
The second feature was that each and every citizen of India was equal before the law regardless of caste or religion. Though many people wanted to run India as a Hindu state by pointing out that Pakistan was formed in order to protect the Muslim rights, but the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru opined that it could not and must not become a “Hindu Pakistan”.
India has a mixed population of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Jains. Under the new constitution, they were given the same rights as Hindus received. The same opportunities were also provided for seeking jobs in government or the private sector and the same rights were given before the law.
The third feature of the constitution was that it offered special privileges for the poorest and most disadvantaged Indians. The practice of untouchability was abolished and entry of low castes into the temples was allowed. The Constituent Assembly also recommended that a certain percentage of seats in the legislature as well as in government jobs be reserved for members of low caste. Some people argued that some Harijan candidates did not have enough grades to enter into the prestigious Indian Administrative Services exam. To this, H.J Khandekar replied that it was due to oppression by the high castes which had continued for so many decades that they had lost the ability to think. Along with them, the adivasis or Scheduled Tribes were also granted reservations in seats and jobs.
Many days were spent in deciding the distribution of powers among the centre and state governments. Some members were of the view that powers should be given to the provinces also so as to manage the country well whereas some wanted it to be kept with the centre.
To balance these claims, three lists of subjects were provided:
Now, the next concern was related to the language. Many members wanted to replace English language with Hindi but some members like T.T. Krishnamachari said that if Hindi would be imposed on the South Indians, they would get separated from India. Finally, a compromise was reached, in which Hindi was taken as the “official language” of India and English was to be used in the courts, the services, and communication between one state and another.
Though many people contributed in framing of the constitution but the most crucial role was played by the chairman of the drafting committee, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. It was Dr. Ambedkar under whose supervision the document was finalized. In his final speech to the constituent assembly he said that political democracy had to be accompanied by economic and social democracy. According to him the mere right of voting would not remove the inequality between rich and poor or between upper and lower caste. He even added that the new constitution would face some contradictions such as, the constitution provided equality among all and the principle of one man, one vote and one valuewhereas in social life, the opposite was practised.
Though problems were being solved step by step but that doesn’t mean that they had ended. The new question that arose was how to form states.
If we talk about 1920s, The Indian National Congress had promised to make separate provinces for separate linguistic groups after gaining independence. But when India got its independence, the congress didn’t do anything to fulfill its promise. The riots and killings which were seen during partition were so horrible that congress decided not to make further divisions on the basis of language.
Both Prime Minister Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel were against the creation of linguistic states. As Nehru said “disruptionist tendencies had come to the fore”; to check them, the nation had to be strong and united” or as Patel added “… the first and last need of India at the present moment is that it should be made a nation …Everything which helps the growth of nationalism has to go forward and everything which throws obstacles in its way has to be rejected … We have applied this test to linguistic provinces also, and by this test, in our opinion [they] cannot be supported.”
This really disappointed the Kannada speakers, Malayalam speakers and Marathi speakers who had been looking forward to have their own state. However, the strongest protest came from the Telugu speaking districts of Madras Presidency who wanted a separate state named Andhra. In 1952 general elections Nehru faced black flags and slogan of “we want Andhra” during his campaigns. In October 1952 veteran Gandhian named Potti Sriramulu went on a hunger strike demanding the formation of Andhra. He died after fifty eight days of strike, on 15 December 1952.
The news of his death widespread and it was so intense that the government was forced to make a new state named Andhra Pradesh.
After this, many other linguistic communities start demanding a separate state. So, a States Reorganisation Commission was set up, which submitted its report in 1956, recommending the redrawing of district and provincial boundaries to form compact provinces of Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu speakers respectively. The large Hindi speaking region of north Indian was also to be broken up into several states. In 1960, the state of Bombay was divided on the basis of Marathi and Gujarati speakers. In 1966, the state of Punjab was also divided into Punjab and Haryana in which Punjab was for Punjabi speakers who were mostly Sikhs and the latter for the rest who spoke Haryanvi or Hindi.
After creating various states and delegating powers between the centre and state, now the country decided to develop itself. For this, rigorous planning was done in order to develop the country.
The major objectives of the new nation were to lift India and Indians out of poverty and also to build a modern technical and industrial base. A planning commission was setup in 1950 to help in designing and executing suitable policies for economic development. The country wanted to have development with the concept of mixed economy. Now here mixed economy means an economy where there is participation of both public (government) and private sector for the development of the country. So, the need of the hour was that both state (government) and the private sector would play important and complementary roles in increasing production and generating jobs. The roles mentioned here were what has to be planned by the planning commission.
In 1956, the second five year plan was formulated. A five year plan is a plan made by India for the next five years to decide what type of development it wants to achieve for itself. So when the second five year plan was formulated, the main focus was on the development of heavy industries such as steel and on building large dams. These sectors were kept under the control of the government. The focus on heavy industry; and the effort of keeping economy under the state regulation for the next few decades was supported by many. Though there were some opponents too. Some people felt that the second five year plan had not put an adequate emphasis on agriculture. Others said that primary education was not given due importance. Some people thought that it had not taken account of the environmental implications of the economic policies. Mahatma Gandhi’s follower Mira Behan wrote in 1949 that science and technology can earn huge income for a time but later on if we don’t try to maintain nature’s balance, then we will not be able to live a healthy and morally decent life.
Soon after gaining independence, India had to decide its foreign policy also as the decade of 1950s-1960s saw the emergence of the cold war between the two powers that is the USA and the USSR. Both the countries were creating military alliances but India had just attained independence from the colonial rule and so had some other countries too. Therefore, Nehru who was also the foreign minister of newly independent India, developed free India’s foreign policy in this context. Non Alignment formed the bedrock of this foreign policy. The policy stated to stay away from alliances but to remain aloof was not the main element as India played an important role in mediating between the American and Soviet alliances.
So now we know that after attaining independence the Indian policy makers had to go through so many details to frame various policies for Indians and not only this, there were huge hurdles in their path. Somehow, they managed to make what was good for the nation. So what has the nation achieved after sixty years of its independence and what is still left to be achieved. Let’s discuss it now.
On 15th August 2007 when India celebrated it sixty years of independence, it proudly stood as a united and democratic nation. A democratic nation is a country where the government is ‘by the people’, ‘for the people’ and ‘of the people’. Many foreign observers felt that India could not survive as a single country and that it would split into many small countries on the basis of linguistic groups. Others said that it would come under military rule. But this did not happen and the best part is that as many as 13 general elections have been held, as well as hundreds of local and state elections have been held since independence. We have a free press as well as an independent judiciary. This means that there is freedom of speech and expression and no one can influence the judgment for his/her own benefit. The people follow different faiths and speak different languages, this does not come in the way of national unity.
On the other hand, deep divisions persist. Though dalits or the untouchables were guaranteed equality in the constitution, they still face violence and discrimination. In many parts of rural areas dalits are still not allowed to use water from the common source, enter temples, parks and other public places. Not only this, despite the secular ideals enshrined in the constitution, still there are clashes between different religious groups in many states. Even the inequality between rich and poor has grown over the years.
Still some parts of India and some Indians have benefited from the economic development. They lead a luxurious life as they live in large houses; send their children to expensive schools etc. At the same time many others still live below the poverty line. Their life is miserable. Either they live in urban slums or in remote villages. They can’t afford education for their children. According to the constitution, everyone is equal in the eyes of law but in reality some Indians are more equal than others.
We can conclude that the Republic of India has not been a great success but it has not been a failure either.
Q1- Name three problems that the newly independent nation of India faced?
A1-The three problems faced by India at the time of independence were as follows-
Q2- What was the role of the Planning Commission?
A2- The planning commission was setup in 1950 to help in designing suitable policies for economic development. The main aim was to increase productivity and employment opportunities so as to develop the economy.
Q3- Fill in the blanks-
Q4- State whether true or false
Q5- What did Dr Ambedkar mean when he said that “In politics we will have equality, and in social and economic life we will have inequality”?
A5- Dr. Ambedkar meant to say that political democracy had to be accompanied by economic and social democracy. Just because the right to vote was given, it would not remove the inequality between the rich and poor or between upper and lower caste. There was a need to work towards eradicating the inequality otherwise India would be a land of contradiction where the principle of one man, one vote and one value will be only in political life and not in social life.
Q6- After Independence, why was there a reluctance to divide the country on linguistic lines?
A6- The Congress had promised to make provinces on the basis of language after attaining independence. But after India got independence, the Congress was reluctant to fulfill its promise. The reason was the horrible riots and killings which happened during the partition of India. So, both the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel decided not to make separate provinces.
Q7- Give one reason why English continued to be used in India after Independence.
A7- During the debate of accepting Hindi as the national language, people from South India warned to separate from India as they didn’t want Hindi to be imposed on them. Therefore, it was decided that Hindi would be the official language of India and English would be used in the courts, the services and also for communication between one state and another.
Q8- How was the economic development of India visualised in the early decades after Independence?
A8- The economic development of India was visualized in the following ways-