Mains Answer Writing
The early years after independence were a turbulent time. The country grappled with several problems even as it dreamt of a hopeful and prosperous future and sceptics predicted doom for the country’s viability as a nation.
The three major problems that India faced were:
- Integration of Princely States: War with Pakistan resulted immediately after independence for control over Jammu & Kashmir. Integration of large states such as Hyderabad and creation of viable administrative units out of more than 500 princely states were serious challenges.
- a) It was a threat to national unity and societal peace amidst dreadful communal riots.
- b) A huge exodus of migrants fleeing violence created an unprecedented refugee crisis.
- A broken economy:
- a) India’s GDP was only 2% of the World’s GDP. The country had grim poverty. Over 80% of the population relied on agriculture as their occupation.
- b) Agriculture was in crisis with the loss of large fertile areas that grew rice, wheat, and cotton to Pakistan. The scars of the 1943 Bengal famine were fresh.
The government took following steps to counter these problems that challenged the nation’s social, economic, and political future:
- Princely States: A combination of carrot-and-stick policies, force, and administrative tact was used. E.g., police Action under Operation Polo for annexation of Hyderabad, merger of conspicuous princely states to create large administrative units like Rajasthan.
- Communal Problem:
- a) The constituent assembly framed a secular constitution discarding the two-nation principle. It inspired confidence against majoritarianism and outlawed caste-based discriminations.
- b) The Relief and Rehabilitation department facilitated aid like food and jobs for refugees. Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons Act 1954 was passed to help refugees resettle. Citizenship was given to refugees as per Articles 5, 6, 7.
- c) Nehru-Liaqat Agreement was signed to reassure minority populations about their safety. The Ministry of Minority Affairs was constituted.
- a) The first amendment was brought in to overcome hurdles in the path of agriculture reforms such as zamindari abolition, implementation of land ceiling etc.
- b) The Soviet model of five-year plans was adopted to give the state control over commanding heights of the economy and facilitate rapid industrialisation.
- c) Foreign policy and defence policy were designed to conserve resources for building the country’s economic future rather than invest in war-preparedness. g., nonaligned movement, Panchsheel principles etc.
The problems before a newly Independent India were daunting and many of the policy solutions did not work. Policy corrections over decades such as the green revolution and economic liberalization helped to sustainably resolve the problems and the doomsayers were proved wrong.
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