For the aspirants of Civil Services, it is very important to choose such readings which are more informative as well as less exhaustive to study. The textbooks provided by NCERT are of such kind which contains a complete package of any stream. Such textbooks are very important for the aspirants who are engaged in preparing for various competitive exams. The aspirants always faces challenges to completed their given syllabus of respective exams, so, NCERT textbooks have been proved as a better tools for the preparation of competitive Exams.
As per the recent trend, the Indian Polity constitute an integral part of the IAS Prelims Exam as well as in the IAS Mains Exam.
The first few years in the life of independent India were full of challenges. Some of the most pressing ones concerned national unity and territorial integrity of India. We begin the story of politics in India since independence by looking at how three of these challenges of nation building were successfully negotiated in the first decade after 1947.
• Freedom came with partition, which resulted in large scale violence and displacement and challenged the very idea of a secular India.
• The integration of the princely states into the Indian union needed urgent resolution.
• The internal boundaries of the country needed to be drawn afresh to meet the aspirations of the people who spoke different languages.
In the next two chapters we shall turn to other kinds of challenges faced by the country in this early phase.
The challenge of nation-building, covered in the last chapter, was accompanied by the challenge of instituting democratic politics. Thus, electoral competition among political parties began immediately after Independence. In this chapter, we look at the first decade of electoral politics in order to understand
• the establishment of a system of free and fair elections;
• the domination of the Congress party in the years immediately after Independence; and
• the emergence of opposition parties and their policies.
In the last two chapters we have studied how the leaders of independent India responded to the challenges of nation-building and establishing democracy. Let us now turn to the third challenge, that of economic development to ensure well-being of all. As in the case of the first two challenges, our leaders chose a path that was different and difficult. In this case their success was much more limited, for this challenge was tougher and more enduring.
In this chapter, we study the story of political choices involved in some of the key questions of economic development.
• What were the key choices and debates about development?
• Which strategy was adopted by our leaders in the first two decades? And why?
• What were the main achievements and limitations of this strategy?
• Why was this development strategy abandoned in later years?
Thus far we have focussed in this book on the developments within the country and on domestic challenges. We now turn to the external challenges. Here too our leaders faced the challenge with an innovative response by way of the policy of non-alignment. But they also found themselves in conflict with neighbours. This led to three wars in 1962, 1965 and 1971. These wars and the external relations in general, were shaped by and had their impact on the politics in the country.
In this chapter we study the story of this relationship between the external and the internal politics by focussing on
• the international context that shaped India’s external relations;
• the operational principles that informed the country’s foreign policy;
• the history of India’s relations with China and Pakistan; and
• the evolution of India’s nuclear policy.
In chapter two we read about the emergence of the Congress system. This system was first challenged during the 1960s. As political competition became more intense, the Congress found it difficult to retain its dominance. It faced challenges from the opposition that was more powerful and less divided than before. The Congress also faced challenges from within, as the party could no longer accommodate all kinds of differences.
In this chapter we pick the story from where we left it in Chapter Two, in order to
• understand how the political transition took place after Nehru;
• describe how the opposition unity and the Congress split posed a challenge to Congress dominance;
• explain how a new Congress led by Indira Gandhi overcame these challenges; and
• analyse how new policies and ideologies facilitated the restoration of the Congress system.
We have seen in the last chapter that the Congress recovered after 1971, but was not the same kind of party. The difference became clear in a series of events between 1973 and 1975 that brought new challenges to India’s democratic politics and the institutional balance sought by the Constitution. These developments led to the imposition of ‘emergency’ in June 1975. Normally, we would associate ‘emergency’ with war and aggression or with natural disaster. But this ‘emergency’ was imposed because of the perceived threat of internal disturbance. The Emergency ended as dramatically as it had begun, resulting in a defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections of 1977.
In this chapter we focus on this crucial phase in the history of democracy in India and ask some questions that have remained controversial after all these years.
• Why was Emergency imposed? Was it necessary?
• What did the imposition of Emergency mean in practice?
• What were the consequences of Emergency on party politics?
• What are the lessons of Emergency for Indian democracy?
Three decades after independence, the people were beginning to get impatient. Their unease expressed itself in various forms. In the previous chapter, we have already gone through the story of electoral upheavals and political crisis. Yet that was not the only form in which popular discontent expressed itself. In the 1970s, diverse social groups like women, students, Dalits and farmers felt that democratic politics did not address their needs and demands. Therefore, they came together under the banner of various social organisations to voice their demands. These assertions marked the rise of popular movements or new social movements in Indian politics.
In this chapter we trace the journey of some of the popular movements that developed after the 1970s in order to understand:
• what are popular movements?
• which sections of Indian society have they mobilised?
• what is the main agenda of these movements?
• what role do they play in a democratic set up like ours?
In the first chapter of this book we studied the process of ‘nation-building’ in the first decade after independence. But nation-building is not something that can be accomplished once and for all times to come. In the course of time new challenges came up. Some of the old problems had never been fully resolved. As democratic experiment unfolded, people from different regions began to express their aspirations for autonomy. Sometimes these aspirations were expressed outside the framework of the Indian union. These involved long struggles and often aggressive and armed assertions by the people. This new challenge came to the fore in the 1980s, as the Janata experiment came to an end and there was some political stability at the centre. This decade will be remembered for some major conflicts and accords in the various regions of the country, especially in Assam, the Punjab, Mizoram and the developments in Jammu and Kashmir. In this chapter we study these cases so as to ask some general questions.
• Which factors contribute to the tensions arising out of regional aspirations?
• How has the Indian state responded to these tensions and challenges?
• What kind of difficulties is faced in balancing democratic rights and national unity?
• What are the lessons here for achieving unity with diversity in a democracy?
In this last chapter we take a synoptic view of the last two decades of politics in India. These developments are complex, for various kinds of factors came together to produce unanticipated outcomes in this period. The new era in politics was impossible to foresee; it is still very difficult to understand. These developments are also controversial, for these involve deep conflicts and we are still too close to the events. Yet we can ask some questions central to the political change in this period.
• What are the implications of the rise of coalition politics for our democracy?
• What is Mandalisation all about? In which ways will it change the nature of political representation?
• What is the legacy of the Ramjanambhoomi movement and the Ayodhya demolition for the nature of political mobilisation?
• What does the rise of a new policy consensus do to the nature of political choices?
The chapter does not answer these questions. It simply gives you the necessary information and some tools so that you can ask and answer these questions when you are through with this book. We cannot avoid asking these questions just because they are politically sensitive, for the whole point of studying the history of politics in India since Independence is to make sense of our present.