India History – Independence and the Nehru Years

The reorganization after independence The India, from the 19th century. British rule, it gained independence on August 15, 1947. In January 1950, with the new Constitution, it formally became a federal republic and became part of the Commonwealth. The problems deriving from the separation from Pakistan burdened the reorganization of the state system, which remained the cause of continuing tensions and crises in the subsequent history of the country; Bengal and Punjab were divided between the two states, with the consequence of anomalies and fractures: almost 2000 km of Indian territory interposed between western and eastern Pakistan; jute production centers in Pakistani Bengal separated from processing centers in Indian Bengal; Indian control of the rivers that fed the network of irrigation of Pakistani Punjab; the resentment of the Sikhs for the division of Punjab; the conflict between Hindu and Muslim minorities in the two states, which produced mass exodus in both directions, with bloody epilogues. Another serious problem arose from the position of the Indian princes, which the Independence Act left free to remain independent or to join one of the two states. Most adhered to the India, but, for example, Kashmir, with a Muslim majority, had a Hindu leader who opted for the India, with consequent unrest, culminating in a conflict resolved in 1948 with the intervention of the UN and a new demarcation of the borders that it assigned to the India three quarters of the territory.

According to agooddir, local pressures prompted the government to redesign political geography on the basis of major language areas, a process that took decades. The adoption of HindÄ« as an official language was seen in other linguistic areas as a threat to one’s interests, and the premise of an inferior condition in the civil administration.

Nehru’s government At the head of the government remained, from 1947 to 1964, the year of his death, J. Nehru, pupil of Gandhi. His opponent in the Indian National Congress (INC; the political formation protagonist of the struggle for independence) was V. Patel, exponent of the right wing. The assassination of Gandhi (January 1948) violently shook public opinion and the right wing of the party, which had opposed the Gandhian policy of non-violence and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims, suffered a decline in popularity which instead strengthened the prime minister’s charisma. Nehru launched a development program largely controlled by the state, through the initiation of land reform and the adoption of three five-year plans centered on the need to industrialize the country; he also abolished the caste system, which would in fact survive,

In foreign policy, India he placed himself at the head of the non-aligned countries, attempting a difficult equidistance from the two blocks. The policy of peaceful coexistence towards China failed, however, in 1962 following the crisis that broke out between the two countries on the question of the Himalayan borders.

Nehru, who died in May 1964, was succeeded by LB Shastri, who had to face a serious crisis with Pakistan, culminating in the Indian invasion of Pakistani Punjab (1965) and resolved with an agreement only after the intervention of the UN (Tashkent, January 1966).

Indira Gandhi

Suddenly Shastri died, a compromise between the right and left wings of the INC led to the leadership of the government India Gandhi, daughter of Nehru and party president (1966). The new prime minister resumed the country’s modernization policy, launched the agrarian reform, signed a military cooperation treaty with the USSR (1971) and faced a new conflict with Pakistan for the support given by India to the secession of Bangladesh. In 1974, the India, which had not adhered to the non-proliferation treaty (1968), detonated its first atomic bomb. Towards the mid-1970s the worsening of the economic and social situation favored a growth of the opposition, with a broad consensus of opinion, to which the government reacted with a series of authoritarian measures. Also opposed by the conservative wing of the party, Gandhi, also found guilty of electoral fraud in the 1971 elections and condemned to be banned from public office for six years, it reacted with the imposition of a state of emergency (1975-77) and the limitation of democratic freedoms, also adopting harsh repressive measures against autonomist forces. Gandhi’s attempt to suppress constitutional guarantees was discounted by the INC in the election in 1977, when the party suffered its first defeat.

The Janata Dal, a center-left party born that same year from the confluence of heterogeneous opposition forces, formed the new government, led by MR Desai. In 1980 Gandhi, who two years earlier had founded the INC (I) (from the initial of her name), returned to the government in a context of social, ethnic and religious unrest fomented by the re-ignition of autonomist and religious conflicts in Assam. Jammu and Kashmir, but especially in Punjab, where the Sikhs called for the creation of an independent state. The government crackdown, which resulted in hundreds of deaths (1984), was followed by riots, military mutinies and the resignations of Sikh congressmen. In October of the same year, the premier was murdered by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

Rajiv Gandhi

He inherited the legacy of India Gandhi, as prime minister and as president of the INC (I), his son Rajiv, who obtained a strong parliamentary majority in the 1984 elections. Accompanied at the beginning by great popular favor but politically inexperienced, he met with a progressive loss of support. The opposition, which grew and organized politically, reduced the margins of the majority in many states, where the autonomist tendencies were strengthened, to which the central government responded once again with repressive measures. R. Gandhi he also came into conflict with the party apparatus and with the state bureaucracy for having tried to control both of them through his trusted advisors. The process of privatization and market liberalization which he initiated aimed at favoring the middle class, the driving force of an economy that should have produced in perspective also the progress of the weaker classes. But the rise in prices following liberalization caused great discontent and the religious conflicts, fomented by fundamentalist movements of opposing confessions, made the social disturbance more acute.

Overwhelmed by serious incidents of corruption, the INC (I) suffered a sharp defeat in the 1989 elections, the second in its history. The government switched to the National Front, a heterogeneous coalition united only by the opposition to Gandhi’s party, with the external support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Hindu far right in strong growth in the north) and the two communist parties. Prime Minister VP Singh promoted in 1990 an unpopular attempt at reform (then approved in 1992, it produced violent reactions in the middle-upper castes of the urban bourgeoisie), which provided for the raising of the quota reserved in public employment for members of the caste lower. In the autumn, after an outbreak of violence between Hindus and Muslims caused by the dispute over the Ayodhya temple in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling coalition split and Singh resigned. The 1991 election campaign was marked by new violence and on May 21 R. Gandhi was killed in an attack attributed to the underground Tamil Tiger organization. He was succeeded at the head of the party, winner of the elections, N. Rao, who formed a minority cabinet.

India History - Independence and the Nehru Years

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