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The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 was a major reform of the boundaries and governance of India's states and territories. The act reorganised the boundaries of India's states along linguistic lines, and amended the Indian Constitution to replace the three types of states, known as Parts A, B, and C states, with a single type of state.

Although additional changes to India's state boundaries have been made since 1956, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 remains the single most extensive change in state boundaries since the independence of India in 1947.


Political integration after independence and the Constitution of 1950

South Indian states prior to the States Reorganisation Act.

British India, which included most of present-day India as well as Pakistan and Bangladesh, was divided into two types of territories: provinces, which were governed directly by British officials, responsible to the Governor-General of India; and princely states, under the rule of local hereditary rulers who recognised British sovereignty in return for local autonomy, as established by treaty. As a result of the reforms of the early 20th century, most of the provinces had elected legislatures and governors, although some of the smaller provinces were governed by a chief commissioner appointed by the Governor-General. The 20th century reforms of British India also established the principle of federalism, also known in British India as "dyarchy", which was carried forward into the governance of independent India.

On August 15, 1947, British India was granted independence as the separate dominions of India and Pakistan. The British dissolved their treaty relations with the over 600 princely states, who were encouraged to accede to either India or Pakistan. Most of the states acceded to India, and a few to Pakistan. Bhutan and Hyderabad opted for independence, although the armed intervention of India brought Hyderabad into the Indian Union.

During the 1947-1950 period, the territories of the princely states were politically integrated into the Indian Union. Most were merged into the existing provinces; others were organised into new provinces, like Rajputana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Bharat, and Vindhya Pradesh made up of multiple princely states; a few, including Mysore, Hyderabad, Bhopal, and Bilaspur, became separate provinces. The Government of India Act 1935 remained the constitutional law of India pending adoption of a new Constitution.

The Constitution of India, which went into effect on January 26, 1950, made India a sovereign, democratic republic, and a union of states (replacing provinces) and territories. The states would have extensive autonomy and complete democracy in the Union, while the Union territories would be administered by the Government of India. The constitution of 1950 distinguished between three types of states.

Part A states, which were the former governors' provinces of British India, were ruled by an elected governor and state legislature. The nine Part A states were Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh (formerly Central Provinces and Berar), Madras, Orissa, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh (formerly United Provinces).

The eight Part B states were former princely states or groups of princely states, governed by a rajpramukh, who was often a former prince, along with an elected legislature. The rajpramukh was appointed by the President of India. The Part B states were Hyderabad, Saurashtra, Mysore, Travancore-Cochin, Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), and Rajasthan.

The ten Part C states included both the former chief commissioners' provinces and princely states, and were governed by a chief commissioner. The chief commissioner was appointed by the President of India. The Part C states included Delhi, Kutch, Himachal Pradesh, Bilaspur, Coorg, Bhopal, Manipur, Ajmer-Merwara, and Tripura.

Jammu and Kashmir had special status until 1957. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands was established as a union territory, ruled by a lieutenant governor appointed by the central government.

The movement for linguistic states

Political movements for the creation of new, linguistic-based states developed around India in the years after independence. The movement to create a Telugu-speaking state out of the northern portion of Madras State gathered strength in the years after independence, and in 1953, the 16 northern, Telugu-speaking districts of Madras State became the new State of Andhra.

Other small changes were made to state boundaries during the 1950-1956 period. The small state of Bilaspur was merged with Himachal Pradesh on July 1, 1954, and Chandernagore, a former enclave of French India, was incorporated into West Bengal in 1955.

The States Reorganisation Commission

In December 1953, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru appointed the States Reorganisation Commission to prepare for the creation of states on linguistic lines. This was headed by Justice Fazal Ali and the commission itself was also known as the Fazal Ali Commission. The efforts of this commission was overseen by Govind Ballabh Pant, who served as Home Minister from December 1954. The commission created a report in 1955 recommending the reorganisation of India's states.

The States Reorganisation Act

The States Reorganisation Act of 1956, which went into effect on November 1, eliminated the distinction between part A, B, and C states. It also reorganised the state boundaries and created or dissolved states and union territories.


Changes to states and union territories

On November 1, 1956, India was divided into the following states and union territories:


  1. Andhra Pradesh: Andhra was renamed Andhra Pradesh, and enlarged by the addition of the Telangana region of erstwhile Hyderabad State.
  2. Assam
  3. Bihar
  4. Bombay State: the state was enlarged by the addition of Saurashtra and Kutch, the Marathi-speaking districts of Nagpur Division of Madhya Pradesh, and the Marathwada region of Hyderabad. The southernmost districts of Bombay were transferred to Mysore State. (In 1960, the state was split into the modern states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.)
  5. Jammu and Kashmir
  6. Kerala: formed by the merger of Travancore-Cochin state with the Malabar District of Madras State and adding southern part of travancore (kanyakumari) to Madras state.
  7. Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh, and the Marathi-speaking districts of Nagpur Division were transferred to Bombay State.
  8. Madras State: the state was reduced to its present boundaries by the transfer of Malabar District to the new state of Kerala. The southern part of Travancore (kanyakumari district) was added to the state.(The state was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969.)
  9. Mysore State: enlarged by the addition of Coorg state and the Kannada speaking districts from southern Bombay state and western Hyderabad state. (The state was renamed Karnataka in 1973.)
  10. Orissa: enlarged by the addition of 28 princely states including two princely states of Saraikela and Kharsawan, but later these two states merged with Bihar.
  11. Punjab: the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) was merged into Punjab.
  12. Rajasthan: Rajputana was renamed Rajasthan, and enlarged by the addition of Ajmer-Merwara state.
  13. Uttar Pradesh
  14. West Bengal

Union territories

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Delhi
  3. Himachal Pradesh
  4. Lakshadweep
  5. Pondicherry
  6. Tripura
  7. Manipur

See also

External links


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