In 1938, when he opposed the formation of Karnatak Province along linguistic lines, Ambedkar pointed out, ‘… we have been living together … only to emphasise the fact that those who want that this unity be sundered … must consider this matter in a much more serious way and not on grounds which are purely sentimental.’
When the Indian identity was in its embryo, he feared that fostering cultural identities would result in separate nationalities. By 1953, after the formation of Andhra State, he pointed at the lack of proper thinking that had gone into the merger. In 1956, when the States Reorganisation Commission submitted its report, he identified its flaws, and famously laid down his ‘One state, one language’ principle.
The speeches, tracts and articles that Ambedkar produced on these lines were soon forgotten. And now, as new states are being formed, Ambedkar’s works find renewed relevance. When he called the merger of Telangana and Telugu-speaking areas of Madras Presidency as ‘artificial’, Ambedkar showed remarkable vision that administrators can learn from. In laying criteria for reorganisation of states—viability, size, economic feasibility, equality, federal balance, and the divisive issue of language—he has already addressed concerns that the contemporary common man now asks.
Along with addressing students and scholars of political science, demography, public administration and Indian History, Revisiting 1956 resurrects the leader’s works from oblivion and presents relevant portions from them for the general, interested reader.
Sudha Pai is Professor, Centre for Political Studies, and Rector (Pro-Vice Chancellor), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Avinash Kumar is Assistant Professor, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
List of Tables and Maps
List of Abbreviations
PART I Tracing Ambedkar’s Thoughts on States Reorganisation
In Lieu of a Conclusion
PART II Speeches and Writings, 1938–56: Compendium