This video is part of a series of 5 animated maps.

View series: History of India since Independence in 1947

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India’s States 1947-2014

This map is part of a series of 5 animated maps showing the history of History of India since Independence in 1947.

On the eve of independence, British India consisted of 17 provinces and more than 500 princely states. In order to adjust and equalize these large administrative units and promote uniform economic development, the new nation with its federal system of government undertook to reorganize long-standing territorial divisions.

Meanwhilowing a 58 day hunger strike led prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to create the state of Andhra with 11 Telugu speaking districts.

Nehru then le, demands for states corresponding to linguistic groups increased. In the Madras presidency, Potti Sriramalu led the movement for statehood for Telugu speakers. His death folappointed a committee to examine the linguistic question. In 1955 the committee recommended the creation of states on linguistic grounds while accepting the central government’s economic and administrative logics. The States Reorganization Act was adopted by parliament in 1956.

India was divided into 14 states and 6 union territories administered by the federal government.

This reorganization mainly affected South India. The Madras presidency was divided into several states:

-Andhra Pradesh, with Telugu as its main language,

-Tamil Nadu with Tamil,

-Kerala with Malayalam

-and Mysore with Kannada.

In the North, where Hindi is the common language, this reorganization led to the disappearance of many small states, benefitting in particular Madhya Pradesh. 

Territorial reorganization on linguistic grounds continued in the followings years.

-In 1960, the former British presidency of Bombay was divided into 2 states: Gujarat with Gujarati as its main language and Maharashtra, including Bombay with Marathi.

-In 1966, Haryana, with Hindi as its main language, was separated from Punjab which kept Punjabi as its main language.

-In 1971, Himachal Pradesh, hitherto a union territory, became a state.

In the North-East, the question had ethnic dimensions. Tensions between the multiple ethnic groups led to the division of the large state of Assam into: Nagaland in 1963,

 Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya in 1972,

Sikkim in 1975,

Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1987.

Other groups in the country demanded greater local autonomy, control over their own natural resources and respect of their cultural differences. In 2000, three new states were recognized: Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. More recently, in 2014, Telangana was separated from Andhra Pradesh  .

With 29 states and 7 union territories, India’s map still presents important demographic and territorial asymmetries. Claims for new states continue: for Bodoland in Assam, Gorkhaland in Bengal, Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal in Uttar Pradesh. The central government does not rule out a further diminution or uniformisation in the size of states. A new state reorganization committee could examine the links between economic and social developments and regional imbalances. It still remains to be seen whether the model of smaller states can lead to improved governance as well as a better social cohesion.