[Solved] Has the formation of linguistic States strengthened the cause of Indian Unity?
Language is closely related to culture and therefore to the customs of people. Besides, the massive
spread of education and growth of mass literacy can only occur through the medium of the mother
tongue. Democracy can become real to the common people only when politics and administration
are conducted through the language they can understand.
• Thus States Reorganization Commission recommended a division of India based on dominance and
geographical concentration of ethno-linguistic communities.
• Accepting linguistic diversity helped each state to officially patronize its language. It gave the
assurance of respecting different culture and language.
• By accepting diversity India had indirectly strengthened the federal fabric of the nation. Regional
representation ensured that all genuine grievances are channelized through democratic means and addressed.
• Government’s focus on Jnanapith awards, Classical language status to languages further encouraged scholar to do research in respective language and make Indians aware of the governments support.
• But on the flip side, it has also promoted local identity. It has created distinctiveness among people.
The regional differences have come in the way of national integration. Extreme sense of regionalism
has resulted in parochialism and ethno centricism; instances like Inter-state water disputes, boundary disputes have also increased.
First the Dhar commission, and then the JVP commission rejected the reorganization of states on linguistic basis despite clamour for the same. Fazl Ali commission or States Reorganization Commission, in 1953, allowed that in principle, while giving primacy to administrative convenience.
Linguistic reorganization has strengthened the cause of Indian unity as:
- It put an end to fissiparous tendencies that would’ve balkanized the country on the basis of language.
- It fulfilled the aspirations of people to have autonomous political units for governance.
- Led to development of vernacular languages and imparting of education in them, thus facilitating literacy.
- Development and adoption of vernacular language also enabled political participation by the common man and enabled the common man to voice issues of concern in a familiar language.
- Enabled the preservation of local customs, culture, and festivals. Over time, the people of India have come to cherish the myriad customs of different states. E.g: Chhath celebrations have become popular in Gujarat.
- It did not lead to complaints regarding discrimination in the matter of distribution of resources on the basis of language, nor did it affect the federal structure of the country.
- However, linguistic reorganization also led to several unintended consequences such as regionalism, linguistic chauvinism and foundation of the “Sons of the soil” doctrine.
There are several issues that are a threat to India’s integrity – ethnic clashes in the North East, demand for new states on the basis of backwardness such as Marathwada and Saurashtra, militancy in Jammu and Kashmir etc. Inter-state water disputes are another troublesome issue.
But the political leadership of newly independent India had the foresight to visualize the consequences of not acquiescing to popular aspirations. Their decision to linguistically reorganize the states has therefore removed one important factor that would’ve jeopardized India’s integrity and thus strengthened the cause of Indian unity.
- At the time of independence in 1947, India consisted of more than 500 disjointed princely states that were merged together to form different states. The grouping of states at the time was done on the basis of political and historical considerations rather than on linguistic or cultural divisions, but this was a temporary arrangement.
- On the basis of the State Reorganisation Commission’s (SRC) recommendations, the linguistic reorganisation of 14 States and six Centrally-administered territories were partially completed in 1956, with several other States to be reorganised later on. This was a massive state rationalisation exercise, not simply to establish newer modes of power and authority but to rearrange social, cultural, regional and linguistic diversities into more manageable enclaves of state power.
The formation of states on linguistic basis has rationalised the political map of India in more than one way:
- The formation of these states changed the nature of democratic politics and leadership. The path to politics and power was now open to people speaking regional languages rather than the small English speaking elite.
- Language coupled with the regional and tribal identity provided the most powerful instrument for the formation of ethnonational identity in India.
- It led to the local people participating in the administration in a larger number because of being able to communicate in a common language.
Events since 1956 have clearly shown that loyalty to a language is quite complementary to the unity of the nation such as:
- By reorganizing the states on linguistic lines, the national leadership removed a major grievance which could have led to fissiparous tendencies.
- Linguistic reorganization of the states has not in any manner adversely affected the federal structure of the Union or weakened or paralysed the Centre as many had feared.
- The central government wields as much authority as it did before. The states have also been cooperating with the Centre in planning and economic development.
However, reorganising states on the basis of language has put forth certain challenges in front of the nation such as:
- It has led to several unintended consequences such as regionalism, linguistic chauvinism and foundation of the “Sons of the soil” doctrine.
- It has been used for divisive purposes and transformed into disruptive tendencies, such as communalism, casteism and linguistic or regional exclusiveness.
- The issues of jobs, educational opportunities, access to political power and share in the larger economic cake has fueled rivalries and conflicts based on religion, region, caste and language.
- Several issues that are a threat to India’s integrity have also emerged such as demand for new states on the basis of backwardness such as Marathwada and Saurashtra, ethnicity in the North East etc.
How linguistic states strengthened unity of country
- Focus on national issues
Earlier to reorganization of states, the focus would be on the rights of the state, language and protection of indigenous culture. After reorganization, the state and its people no longer have to worry about their existence as it has already been secured so they focused more on the issues that concerns our country as a whole.
- Cultural heritage
Pride on cultural heritage was not only restricted to language or a local culture. It translated into national heritage that allowed people to associate themselves with rest of the citizens of India. This allowed regionalism to translate into nationalism.
How linguistic states have withered Indian unity
- Rise of regionalism
Formation of linguistic states strengthened political narrative of certain sections that allowed them to propagate regionalism. Regionalism created a sense of separate identity for a state that dissociated them from rest of the country and degraded Indian unity.
Language has become an issue of dispute between two or more states. Linguistic minorities have been considered alien and their rights are being suppressed. Infighting takes place between sections of people on the issue of language and core of Indian unity is destroyed.
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