Monday, November 23, 2009

Changing names of Indian places

The modern European forces began arriving in India since 1498. The Portuguese arrived first and later on the English arrived in 1600. Indians speak different languages and their general accents are different from that of the Europeans. The Europeans had some difficulties pronouncing Indian names and they renamed some Indians places so that it was easy for them to pronounce.
In the present wave of nationalism, many Indians places were officially renamed back to their original names or were given new names. But the former names are still used by the general public and sometimes the places are still recognized by their former names rather than by their new official names.

Former and present names of Indian places

Former name
Present official name
Cape Comorin
New Bombay
Navi Mumbai


After the partition of British India into India and Pakistan, there were in India 9 provinces and about 460 princely states. Most of the princely states within the Indian territory consented to join India. Some joined India under their own initiative and others were convinced by Sardar Villabbhai Patel (a very senior member of the Indian Congress) to join India. Patel who hold negotiations with the princely states, came to an agreement with the princely state rulers that they would continue getting monthly allowances as they were given to them by the British. And so began the designing of the internal map of India.

The big princely states of Mysore, Hyderabad and Kashmir remained in their original sizes and became new Indian states. To the big provinces like Bombay, Orissa and Bengal, small princely states around them were joined and these provinces also became new India's states. In north India some clinging princely states were joined together to create a new state. Rajastan was created in this way. Along with the states which the government created, there were also regions in India which for different reasons were subjected directly to the central government and were called union territories. For example Himachal Pradesh in north India was created by adjoining some princely states. It was a union territory. 

Indian leaders and politicians who had different linguistic and cultural backgrounds demanded that the Indian states should be based on linguistic and cultural boundaries. The central government leaders, which belonged to the Congress party, opposed this idea. They feared that this could eventually lead towards separation of different Indian societies from India and would break the unity. But after a few years opposition the central government agreed to create Indian states based on linguistic differences.

The first step in this direction was made in 1953 when Andra Pradesh, in south India, was created for the Telegu speakers. In 1956 began the first organized process of creating Indian states based on linguistic differences. Among the states created that year were, Andra Pradesh which was created by adjoining certain parts of Telegu speaking areas from former Madras province and most of Hyderabad. For speakers of Malyalam, the state of Kerala was created. For Kanadda speakers the state of Mysore was created (which later on changed its name to Karnataka) from the former Mysore state and also from Kanadda speaking regions in Bombay, Madras and Hyderabad states. Along with states created based on linguistic boundaries, some other big states were created by joining small nearby states. For example Madya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajastan.

The central Indian government did not accept demands of all different cultural leaders for an autonomous Indian state. For example, the Sikhs wanted an autonomous Punjabi state which would have a Sikh majority with its official language, Punjabi. The central government did not accept this demand, instead created in 1956 the state of Punjab, which included also Hindi speakers in its territory and did not have a Sikh majority. But the Sikhs did not give up and continued demanding the Punjab state and in 1966, Punjab was parted into three new states. One of three states remained with the name Punjab and most of the Sikh population of India lived within its territory, but they were not the complete majority of that state. Another demand the central government did not accept was of the Maithali speakers, in present day Bihar, who also demanded a separate autonomous state for Maithali speakers.

Maharashtra for Marathi speakers and Gujarat for Gujarati speakers were created in 1960. Gujarat was created on northern part of the former Bombay state and Maharashtra was created from southern Bombay state and were joined to it parts of Madya Pradesh and Hyderabad. This process erased from India's map the state of Hyderabad, which was now distributed within three different states. Not all Gujaratis were enthused by the creation of new Gujarati state because this division meant that they had to give up the city of Bombay to the Maharashtrians.

Later on other states were created. In east India the state of Assam was parted a few times to create some new states. In 1963, Nagaland was created. In 1972, Manipur was created and there were others small states created from parts of Assam. In west India, Goa was established as a state in 1987. Before their establishment as states, Goa; Manipur and Nagaland were union territories. In the states that exist in India today, there are demands by other communities of India to create new autonomous states for their communities.

These demands for new states in India rise and fall according to the political power of the demanders. To point out such demands, which exist or existed, one can point out the demand of Jammu residents for an autonomous Jammu state in present day Kashmir. The Buddhist of Ladakh in Kashmir also demand autonomous state. In Bihar there was a demand for a separate Maithali state for Maithali speakers. In west Bengal, the Gurkha demands an autonomous Gurkhaland in north Bengal. Along the borders of Orissa and Bihar some tribal communities demanded to create Jharkhand. Similar demands of the aboriginal tribes of India exist in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andra Pradesh. 

In the year 2000, three new states were established in India. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were created from parts of Bihar and Orissa. And Uttaranchal was created from north Uttar Pradesh.

Besides with these demands for autonomous states within Indian union, there were and are also separation demands from India.


About 2% of India's population are Sikhs. Even so, the Sikhs, because of their unique appearance sometimes stand for India. Traditionally the men keep their hair and do not shave their beard or moustache. They gather their head hair in a turban.

Sikhism is comparatively a new religion in India. This religion was established by Guru Nanak. Nanak was born into a Hindu family in 1469 in the Punjab region. Since childhood he loved to travel, learn and preach humanity. In those days people who taught and preached were titled Guru meaning teacher, his followers became to be known as Sikhs meaning learners. And so Guru Nanak developed a new religion and it also included beliefs from the two dominant religions in the Punjab region, Hinduism and Islam. Some claim that Guru Nanak tried to developed a new religion and included in it what he thought were the good beliefs of these two religions. Like in Islam the belief in the existence of one invisible God. Like in Hinduism the belief in Karma and reincarnation, meaning your actions in this life will decide your fate in the next incarnation. The Sikhs also cremate their dead ones as is done in Hinduism.

The creators of Sikhism tried to abolish some of the Indian customs such as the caste system and Sati - burning of the widow. In Sikhism everyone has equal rights irrespective of caste, creed, color, race, sex or religion. Sikhism rejects pilgrimage, fasting, superstitions and other such rituals. Sikhism does not have a clergy class as it considers this as a gateway to corruption. However they have readers and singers in their temples.

A Sikh place of worship is called Gurdwara. Sikhism does not support pilgrimage to holy sites because according to Sikhism, God is everywhere and not in any certain place. But Sikhism has a few important sites, of which, the Hari Mandir, also known as the 'Golden Temple' in Amritsar in Punjab is the most important site and is considered the holiest shrine of Sikhism.

Sikhism emphasis community services and helping the needy. One of the distinct features of Sikhism is the common kitchen called Langar. In every Gurdwara there is a Langar. Every Sikh is supposed to contribute in preparing the meals in the free kitchen. The meals are served to all and are eaten sitting on the floor and this is to emphasis the point that all are equals. Sikhism does not believe in holding fasts for body is God's present to human being and therefore humans must foster, maintain and preserve it in good sound condition, unless fasting is done to foster the human body like healthy diets.
Guru Nanak who established Sikhism was its first Guru. After him there were nine more Gurus who were the highest religious authority. The last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, proclaimed that after him the Guru of the Sikhs would be the holy book of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib.

Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurumukhi script. It includes the writings of the Sikh Gurus and the writings of Hindu and Muslims saints. But out of humility Guru Gobind Singh did not include his own writings in the book he had proclaimed as the permanent Guru of the Sikhs. His writings appear in a separate book called Dasam Granth. Guru Gobind Singh is also the Guru behind the unique appearance of Sikh men.

During Guru Gobind's term as the Guru of the Sikhs and also before him, the ruling empire of Punjab region was the Moghul Empire. The Moghuls were Muslims. Some of the Moghul emperors, like Aurangazeb were fanatic Muslims who harassed the non- Muslims, including the Sikhs. Some of the Sikh Gurus were even executed by the Moghul emperors. In order to stop their persecutions, Guru Gobind decided to make his followers, the Sikhs (meaning learners), a community of fighters. He changed his surname to Singh, which means lion. His followers also changed their surname to Singh. Since then a ceremony of baptizing was established among the Sikhs in which the boys were given the title Singh and the girls were titled Kaur meaning princess. In those days "Singh" as a surname was very popular among a famous warrior caste of north India, the Rajputs. Some of the first Sikhs were also Rajputs.

In order to make it easier for his followers to recognize each other, Gobind Singh, chose five marks, some of which even today symbolize the Sikhs. The five signs were, uncut hair; comb; sword or dagger; bracelet on the right wrist and shorts. The religious Sikhs dress according to Guru Gobind Singh's order, carrying a sword. Most of the Sikhs even today have uncut hair and gather it in a turban. But some easygoing Sikhs cut their hair or they do not gather their uncut hair in a turban.

The emphasis on militant tradition and community service in Sikhism continues even today and many Sikhs serve in the Indian army or police. The Sikhs also have a reputation as experts in steering, from cars to airplanes.They were among the first communities in India who dared to drive vehicles specially lorries. India being a vast country needed drivers who could also travel at nights. But many Indians believed in superstitions like ghosts and haunted places, while the Sikhs rejected these kinds of beliefs and therefore traveled at nights, since then their reputation as steering masters of India.

Aryans and Dravidians - A controversial issue

The most basic division of the Indian society is of Aryans and Dravidians. According to this division, nearly 72% of Indians are Aryans and 28% are Dravidians. The north Indians are the descendants of Aryans and the south Indians are Dravidians. The languages spoken in five states of south India are considered Dravidian languages and most of the languages spoken in the north are considered Aryan languages. The general script of the Aryan languages is different from the general script of Dravidian languages. The Indians also distinguish themselves by the general north Indian accent and general south Indian accent.
According to general Indian legend, the Aryans arrived in north India somewhere from Iran and southern Russia at around 1500 BC. Before the Aryans, the Dravidian people resided in India. The Aryans disregarded the local cultures. They began conquering and taking control over regions in north India and at the same time pushed the local people southwards or towards the jungles and mountains in north India. According to this historical fact the general division of Indian society is made. North Indians are Aryans and south Indians are Dravidians. But this division isn’t proper because of many reasons.

Many Indians immigrated from one part of India to other parts of India and not all local people of north India were pushed southwards by the Aryans. Some stayed and served the Aryans and others moved to live in the forests and the jungles of north India. Before the arrival of the Aryans there were also other communities in India like Sino-Mongoloids and Austroloids. There were also other foreign immigrations and invaders who arrived in India, from time to time. 

There are many that completely doubt that there was ever any Aryan invasion in India. This skepticism is based on the dating of the Aryan invasion of India and the fact that Hinduism and the caste system are believed to have been established as the result of the meetings between the intruding Aryans and original residents of India, the Dravidians. 

The caste system is believed to have been established by the Aryans. The fair skinned Aryans who occupied parts of India established the caste system, which allowed only them to be the priests (Brahman), aristocracy (Kshatria) and the businessmen (Vaisia) of the society. Below them in hierarchy were the Sudras who consisted of two communities. One community was of the locals who were subdued by the Aryans and the other were the descendants of Aryans with locals. In Hindu religious stories there are many wars between the good Aryans and the dark skinned demons and devils. The different Gods also have dark skinned slaves. There are stories of demon women trying to seduce good Aryan men in deceptive ways. There were also marriages between Aryan heroes and demon women. Many believe that these incidences really occurred in which, the gods and the positive heroes were people of Aryan origin. And the demons, the devils and the dark skinned slaves were in fact the original residence of India whom the Aryans coined as monsters, devil, demons and slaves. Normally the date given to Aryan invasion is around 1500 BC. But according to Hinduism experts some of the events in Hinduism occurred much earlier. Some of the events like the great war in the Mahabharta epic is believed to have occurred  7000 years ago. 

According to this Hindu experts the word Aryan is a misinterpretation of the original Sanskrit word, Arya. Arya means pure or good in Sanskrit. In the holy Vedas the good people were called Arya. Some of the European scholars of Indian culture in the 19th century were Germans. These German scholars who found that Swastika was also a holy symbol among the Hindus distorted, the word Arya to Aryan.

Official language

One of the main political issues in Indian politics is connected to language problem. After India’s independence the government decided that the official language of India will be Hindi. Hindi belongs to the family of Aryan languages. Speakers of other languages, especially the Dravidian languages, saw in this decision an attempt to erase their language cultures . But the Indian constitution has declared that English can also be used for official purposes. Hindi has at least 13 different dialects and she is the most commonly spoken language in India. But the reason Hindi was chosen to be the official language of India wasn’t because it is the most commonly spoken language in India, but it has connection with India history before it’s independence. 

Before its independence, most of India was a British colony. Before the British the most dominant Empire of north India was the Moghul Empire. The Moghuls were Muslim invaders who arrived in India from the present day Afghanistan . The official language of the Moghul courts was Persian. The Moghuls, like other residents who lived to the west of the Indian sub-continent named India as ‘Hind’ or ‘Hindustan’, after the river Indus which flows in the present day Pakistan. The language spoken in ‘Hind’ was called by them Hindi or Hindustani. This language and its script were based on an ancient Indian language called Sanskrit. Most of the sacred books of Hinduism are written in Sanskrit and the script is called Devanagiri. 

Some of the Moghul family members were great patrons of poetry and music. Slowly there developed a ‘Hindustani’ poetry, based on Hindustani language which used words from Arabic and Persian and was written in Perso-Arabic script. This language was called Urdu. Urdu also replaced Persian as the language of the Moghul courtyards. And so there developed two languages with different writings but were actually one language when spoken except for their higher vocabularies. For example, rulers were titled in Urdu language as Shah, Nawab or Nizam. While in Hindi they were called Raja or Maharaja. Among the Hindustani speakers of north India, Urdu became the language of the Muslims while Hindi became the language of others. 

After the collapse of the Moghuls the British became the rulers of north India. The British introduced English to India and continued using Urdu for official purposes. But nationalist Hindus demanded from the British to change the official language from Urdu to Hindi which is written in Indian script. Even Hindus whose mother tongue were not Hindi supported this argument. This debate between the Hindus and the Muslims continued right up to the independence of India. Against this stand of two different languages two of India’s notable leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, supported the idea of one Hindustani language which could be written in both forms. But when British India was divided in two countries, India and Pakistan. Muslims who got Pakistan made Urdu their official language and Indians made Hindi with Devanagiri script as their official language. But the debate over the official language didn’t end up with choosing Hindi with Devanagiri script as the official language. New debates occurred because of this decision.

One problem was connected to the different dialects of Hindi and the second problem was connected to other languages which exist in India. The first problem was which dialect of Hindi is the right Hindi. Hindi has at least 13 dialects, some of them completely different from each other. Two reasons caused to it that Hindi language includes in it so many different dialects. One reason was related to the fact that India is called Hind in many languages spoken west from it up to the Middle East. Muslim invaders of India like the Moghuls came from these regions and called the language spoken in ‘Hind’ as Hindi. The Indians also began calling their different languages as ‘Hindi’. The other reason which concerns to the fact that Hindi has so many different dialects is related to the independence period of India and the debate of the official language of India. 

Most of the Indians belong religiously to Hinduism and they perceive Urdu, written in Perso-Arabic script as Muslim language. Before the independence of India the Muslims supported the continuation of Urdu as the official language of India, while the Hindus supported Hindi. In order to secure Hindi’s position as the sole official language of India the political leaders convinced the north Indians to claim that they speak a Hindi dialect and so different dialect speakers were put together in the Hindi speaking category by the British bureaucrats. After India’s independence when Hindi was chosen as the official language of India, different ‘Hindi’ language speakers began demanding official recognition of their languages. Maithali and Punjabi speakers also demanded to recognize their languages as separate languages from Hindi. Of the different ‘Hindi’ languages, only Punjabi got this recognition. Other ‘Hindi’ languages are considered dialects of Hindi and their status in the different states of India isn’t clear and is interpreted differently by different parties. The official Hindi is based on the dialect which was spoken in the Delhi-Agra region with a Sanskrit vocabulary. While the popular Hindi spoken by majority of Indians is based on this dialect, it is also affected by the different cultures of India mainly the Hindi cinema based in Mumbai(formerly Bombay) in west India and it includes many English words. 

Among the other language speakers of India, the decision to choose Hindi as the official language was seen as an attempt to erase their cultures. After different struggles – political, violent and passive – the central government decided to allow the state governments to pick their official languages and recognized constitutionally other languages of India. For now the Indian constitution recognizes 18 Indian languages. One of meanings of the constitutional recognition is the right to use any of these languages for government service examinations. But, in reality this possibility isn’t always given to the examinee. 

The different states of India have different official languages, some of them not recognized by the central government. Some states have more then one official language. Bihar in east India has three official languages - Hindi, Urdu and Bengali – which are all recognized by the central government. But Sikkim, also in east India, has four official languages of which only Nepali is recognized by the central government. Besides the languages officially recognized by central or state governments, there are other languages which don’t have this recognition and their speakers are running political struggles to get this recognition. Anyway as stated earlier the central government decided that Hindi is the official language of India and therefore it has also the status of official language in the states. Another language that has a official status in all states is English.

Caste system in modern India

The leaders of independent India decided that India will be democratic, socialist and secular country. According to this policy there is a separation between religion and state. Practicing untouchability or discriminating a person based on his caste is legally forbidden. Along with this law the government allows positive discrimination of the depressed classes of India.
The Indians have also become more flexible in their caste system customs. In general the urban people in India are less strict about the caste system than the rural. In cities one can see different caste people mingling with each other, while in some rural areas there is still discrimination based on castes and sometimes also on untouchability. Sometimes in villages or in the cities there are violent clashes which, are connected to caste tensions. Sometimes the high castes strike the lower castes who dare to uplift their status. Sometimes the lower caste get back on the higher castes.

In modern India the term caste is used for Jat and also for Varna. The term, caste was used by the British who ruled India until 1947. The British who wanted to rule India efficiently made lists of Indian communities. They used two terms to describe Indian communities. Castes and Tribes. The term caste was used for Jats and also for Varnas. Tribes were those communities who lived deep in jungles, forests and mountains far away from the main population and also communities who were hard to be defined as castes for example communities who made a living from stealing or robbery. These lists, which the British made, were used later on by the Indian governments to create lists of communities who were entitled for positive discrimination. 

The castes, which were the elite of the Indian society, were classified as high castes. The other communities were classified as lower castes or lower classes. The lower classes were listed in three categories. The first category is called Scheduled Castes. This category includes in it communities who were untouchables. In modern India, untouchability exists at a very low extent. The untouchables call themselves Dalit, meaning depressed. Until the late 1980s they were called Harijan, meaning children of God. This title was given to them by Mahatma Gandhi who wanted the society to accept untouchables within them. 

The second category is Scheduled Tribes. This category includes in it those communities who did not accept the caste system and preferred to reside deep in the jungles, forests and mountains of India, away from the main population. The Scheduled Tribes are also called Adivasi, meaning aboriginals.

The third category is called sometimes Other Backward Classes or Backward Classes. This category includes in it castes who belong to Sudra Varna and also former untouchables who converted from Hinduism to other religions. This category also includes in it nomads and tribes who made a living from criminal acts.

According to the central government policy these three categories are entitled for positive discrimination. Sometimes these three categories are defined together as Backward Classes. 15% of India's population are Scheduled Castes. According to central government policy 15% of the government jobs and 15% of the students admitted to universities must be from Scheduled Castes. For the Scheduled Tribes about 7.5% places are reserved which is their proportion in Indian population. The Other Backwards Classes are about 50% of India's population, but only 27% of government jobs are reserved for them.

Along with the central government, the state governments of India also follow a positive discrimination policy. Different states have different figures of communities entitled for positive discrimination based on the population of each state. Different state governments have different lists of communities entitled for positive discrimination. Sometimes a specific community is entitled for rights in a particular state but not in another state of India.

In modern India new tensions were created because of these positive discrimination policies. The high caste communities feel discriminated by the government policy to reserve positions for the Backward Classes. In many cases a large number of high caste members compete for a few places reserved for them. While the Backward Classes members do not have to compete at all because of the large number of reserved places for them compared to the candidates. Sometimes in order to fill the quota, candidates from the lower classes are accepted even though they are not suitable. Sometimes some reserved positions remain unmanned because there were few candidates from the lower classes causing more tension between the castes. Between the lower castes there are also tensions over reservation.

In the order of priority for a reserved place of the Backward Classes, candidate from the Scheduled castes is preferred over a candidate from the Scheduled Tribes who is preferred over a candidate from the other Backward Classes. As stated earlier Other Backward Classes are about 50% of India's population but only 27% of the Other Backward Classes are entitled for positive discrimination according to central government policy. Some Other Backward Classes communities are organizing politically to be recognized as Backward Classes entitled for positive discrimination.

The Scheduled Tribes who are seen as the aborigins of India got ownership and certain rights over Indian land. Many communities in India claim also to be aborigins of India and they are claiming the same rights as the Scheduled Tribes.

The caste identity has become a subject of political, social and legal interpretation. Communities who get listed as entitled for positive discrimination do not get out of this list even if their social and political conditions get better. In many cases the legal system is involved to decide if a certain person is entitled for positive discrimination. 

But with all this positive discrimination policy, most of the communities who were low in the caste hierarchy remain low in the social order even today. And communities who were high in the social hierarchy remain even today high in the social hierarchy. Most of the degrading jobs are even today done by the Dalits, while the Brahmans remain at the top of the hierarchy by being the doctors, engineers and lawyers of India.

List of States and Union Territories

India is a Union of 28 States and 7 Union Territories. Each state has its own government with a Governor as the figurehead, while each Union Territory is administered directly by the President through an administrator appointed by him.

Andra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu and Kashmir
Srinagar and Jammu
Madya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

Union Territories

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Port Blair
Dadar and Nagar Haveli
Daman and Diu

Communist parties in India

In the early 19th century a new philosophy in political world emerged and it was Marxism. Many people in India were impressed by Marxist ideas and many communists from around the world arrived in India to teach and preach the communist philosophy. After the communist revolution, which occurred in Russia in 1917, many in India wished to cause same kind of revolution in India against the British. Under inspiration from Moscow the Communist Party of India (CPI) was established. Like other communist parties in the world, this party's members also had strong relations with Moscow and its actions were dictated by Moscow. This party did not support the freedom struggle, which was organized by the Indian National Congress and saw it as a struggle organized by rich businessmen.

After India's independence, many Indian leaders blamed the Communist party as a Russian agent and as a party acting according to orders from Moscow. In 1957 this party won the state elections held in Keralla, in south India, and so gave the world a precedent in which people democratically elected a communist regime.

In 1964 the Communist Party of India split into two parties. The new party added the word Marxist to the party name and is called in short, CPM. The CPI, between these two parties was considered as a Russian agent in India until the emergence of Prestroika in Russia. Of these two parties the CPM is the stronger party. Their main strength was in West Bengal in east India and in Keralla, south India.

Along with these two national level communist parties, there are also communist parties who act only within one state. Such parties exist in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. There are also some communist oriented violent local organizations who tried to fulfill the communist ideology with violent methods. These groups attacked big landlords, government representatives and government property. These groups are sometimes called Maoist groups or Naxalite groups, because of the place named Naxalbari where first such violent attempt took place.

Congress parties

The oldest national party in India is the Indian National Congress (INC). In was established in 1885 as a pro-British Indian organization. The real purpose of the British in establishing this organization was to continue to rule India with the help of liberal and pro-British Indians. Later on this organization became the main voice of India's freedom struggle .

Among its founders were Surendranath Benarjee, Dadabhai Naoroji and Justice M. G. Ranade. Before founding of the Congress, Justice M. G. Ranade had established an organization based on the ideas of the 'Brahmo Samaj' with the aim of social and religious reforms in India. One of Ranade's disciple, G. K. Gokhale, became the leader of Indian National Congress till 1915. Gokhale was considered by Mahatma Gandhi as his political guru. Mahatma Gandhi, more than any other Indian, is identified with modern India's creation.

After India's independence, the British passed the administration of India to the leaders of the Indian National Congress. Mahatma Gandhi who was the father figure of the Congress party, suggested to transform the Indian National Congress into a charity organization, because the main cause of the Congress party was achieved. But the other leaders of the Congress did not accept his proposal and the Indian National Congress became a political party with a secular, socialist and democratic tendency.

During its independence, two Congress leaders Jawarharlal Nehru and Vallabbhai Patel wanted to be the first Prime Minister of India. Nehru, who was younger, was secular and socialist oriented, while Patel was more Hindu nationalist oriented. Mahatma Gandhi wanted the young Jawarharlal Nehru to be India's first Prime Minister and therefore Patel withdrew his candidacy.

Before independence the Congress was a roof organization and it included many factions. After independence the Congress leaders changed the structure of the party and established a new political agenda. The different factions in the Congress could either join the new agenda or leave the Congress. Some left the Congress and established other political parties outside the Congress. And so some new political parties were established among them the Socialist Party of India and Forward Bloc.

Until 1950 the Congress was under the influence of these two leaders. After Patel's death in 1950, Congress came under full influence of Jawarharlal Nehru. Nehru died in 1964, without appointing an heir. The party chose Lal Bahadur Shastri as the new leader. In 1966 Shastri arrived in Tashkent, in former Soviet Union to sign a cease-fire agreement with Pakistan.
Shastri died in his sleep in Tashkent. After Shastri's death, some Congress leaders competed for the leadership of the party. Surprisingly the inter party election was won by the less favorite candidate, Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was Jawarharlal Nehru's daughter (and had no family relations with Mahatma Gandhi). Some of the veteran members of the Congress did not accept her leadership and they tried to dispose her of. In 1969 the Congress split up into two parties.

The veteran members of the Congress established the Congress (O) party, while Indian National Congress was recognized as Congress (R). Of these two parties the INC was the larger and dominant party. The Congress (O) was no threat to Indira Gandhi's Congress.
Indira Gandhi was a very centralist leader. She pulled all the strings in the party and was seen as the dictator of her party. She planned to inherit her party to her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi. Between the years 1975-77 Indira Gandhi proclaimed emergency rule. During this period many of Gandhi's political rivals were arrested and put behind the bars. Censorship was enforced on Indian press. The justice system was restricted and turned into 'puppet show' of the government. The people also suffered a lot from this emergency rule. Under the birth control policy many people were forced to have sterilization. Even so Indira Gandhi was sure that the Indian people supported her because her general intention of making India a better place and so she declared elections in 1977.

Her party lost the 1977 elections to the Janata Party. A few months after the Congress defeat in the elections, another split occured in the Congress party. The party of Indira Gandhi was called Congress ( I ), because of the initial of her name. During this period many more splits and coalitions occurred within the different Congress parties. One such party of the Congress during this period was established by former Congress member Sharad Pawar. He even established a government in the state of Maharashtra with this party which later on was known as Congress (S). Another party was established in Uttar Pradesh. Some of these new party members including it establishers like Sharad Pawar returned later on to the Congress ( I ) party and the party was renamed Indian National Congress.

But there are others who left the INC at different periods and established parties outside the Congress and have a name Congress in their party name. For example West Bengal Trinamool Congress was established by Mumta Benarjee in West Bengal before the 1998 elections. Tamil Maanila Congress was established by Moopanar in Tamil Nadu. And there are more other such parties. There were some Congress members who resigned from the Congress and established parties without having the name Congress in their party name. For example Lok Dal which, was established in the 1960s by Charan Singh and Janata Dal which was established by VP Singh after resigning from the INC in the late 1980s. Before the 1999 elections some senior members of the INC were forced to resign because they questioned the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. These people have created the National Congress Party to participate in 1999 elections.

Sonia Gandhi who led the INC in the 1999 elections is the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, the elder son of Indira Gandhi. She was born in Italy to a European Christian family. She met Rajiv Gandhi in England and married him. Indira Gandhi intended to inherit her party to her younger son Sanjay. But Sanjay died in a plane crash in 1980. So Indira Gandhi forced her elder son, who had no interest in politics, to resign from his job as a pilot and join politics. In 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. Rajiv Gandhi was proclaimed her heir. He was Prime Minister of India until 1989. In the 1991 election campaign a suicide bomber assassinated him. The Congress appointed Narsimha Rao as its new leader. After losing the 1996 elections Rao resigned. For sometime Sitaram Kesari was the leader, but many Congress members saw in Sonia Gandhi as the new leader and gave her lot of respect. They thought that the Congress needs a 'Gandhi' as its leader to attract votes.

In the 1999 elections Sonia Gandhi led the INC party, but it did not win the elections. In 2004 elections she again led the party and this time INC won the elections. But when offered the Prime Ministership, Sonia Gandhi refused the offer claiming her 'inner voice' prevented her from doing so. She remains the party leader and another senior party member, Manmohan Singh, was selected Prime Minister of India.

Regional Parties

Regional parties are parties whose main holds are in one certain state and mostly they participate in the elections only within that state. Most of these regional parties have agenda fitting certain culture dominant within that state. Some of these regional parties also participate in neighboring states, which have constituencies with culture similar to the first state. Different state parties were established at different periods because of different reasons. Some even have origins prior to India's independence. 

In Tamil Nadu in south India, two main state parties are All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK). Of these two parties the DMK is the veteran party. The origins of these parties are prior to India's independence. The main ideology of this party is Tamil national pride. Before India's independence there were two Dravidian parties. One was Independent Party, which demand an independent Dravidstan in south India. Other was Justice Party, which had a Dravidian pride ideology. After India's independence, the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) was established from the merger of these two parties in the former state of Madras, in south India. This party first demanded an independent Dravidstan for all of south India. Later on the demand was changed to independent Tamil state. Finally this party compromised on a Tamil Nadu state within the Indian Union. 

In the beginning this party was anti-north Indian. They opposed to any entrance of any kind of cultures of north India. They specially attacked the attempt to introduce Hindi language in Tamil Nadu . This party members also saw in the Tamili Brahmans agents of north India who immigrated to south India to enforce to north Indian Aryan culture on the south Indians. The party demanded to reserve the government jobs for Dravidians and not to 'immigrant' Brahmans. In 1972 this party split and a new party was founded by MC Ramachandaran and it was named All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK). In 1987 Ramachandaran died and Jayalalita inherited him. In the last few years these Tamilian pride parties have moderated their ideologies and before the 1998 elections the AIADMK even cooperated with BJP, which is considered as a north Indian party.

In Andra Pradesh, also in south India, Telegu Desam was founded in 1982 by Telegu film actor, NT Rao. The ideology of the party is similar to the ideology of the AIADMK, which is local cultural pride. In the Telugu Desam case, the local cultural pride is of Telugu culture.
Another one state party is Akali Dal and its main hold is in Punjab, north India. This party is considered a state party, but actually it is a religion oriented party whose followers are the Sikhs. This party also has its origin prior to India's independence. Before independence this party demanded from the British a separate entity for the Sikhs in Punjab. During the independence period these demands were delayed for a while. After independence this party began demanding special status for the Sikh culture and the Punjabi language. They struggled for a Punjabi state with a Sikh majority within the Indian Union and recognition of Punjabi as a distinct language. They succeeded in forming the establishment of Punjab in 1966, but it had a very small majority of the Sikhs . But they also succeeded in obtaining the recognition of Punjabi as a distinct language and not as a dialect of Hindi. Later on the Akali Dal broke up into some factions. Some of the militant factions of the Akali Dal demanded an independent Sikh state to be called Khalistan. But the dominant Akali Dal faction in Punjab wants Punjab to be a part of Indian Union.

In Assam in east India and in Maharashtra in west India there are political parties which came into existence because of the discriminatory feelings of the local 'sons of soil' population. 

In British India, Assam was a British province. For some period the British attached Assam to the neighboring Bengal province. During this period the Bengalis held many senior government posts. Later on Assam again became a separate province, but the government posts were still hold by the Bengalis. In the 1960s and the 1970s many Bengali oriented people immigrated to Assam. In the 1980s the Asom Gana Parishad was founded with an agenda to give back Assam to the Assamese people.

In Maharashtra, in west India, the local population is known as Maharashtrians. Their language is known as Marathi. Sometimes the Maharashtrians are also known as Marathi. The capital of Maharashtra is Mumbai, formerly Bombay. During the British rule, the city of Bombay was the capital of Bombay State. The Bombay State included in it regions of present day Maharashtra and present day Gujarat. The main language of Gujarat is Gujarati. The Gujaratis are the business communities of India. The city of Bombay was the business center of India. Many business communities from Gujarat settled in Bombay and were the important business community of Bombay. But the majority of the population of Bombay was Marathi and they were the working classes of the city. Many Indians from all around India also immigrated to Bombay to find a better future. This made Bombay the largest Indian cosmopolitan.

In 1960 Bombay State was divided into Maharashtra and Gujarat. Bombay the cultural capital of the Marathis and the Gujaratis was made capital of Maharashtra. After Maharashtra was established, a general feeling among many Marathis, was that Bombay is ruled and governed by 'foreigners'. Their main targets were not the Gujarati business communities, but immigrants who arrived from all over India and settled in Bombay. So these people established the Shiv Sena party. This party which began as a protest movement of the Marathis in Bombay, slowly became popular all around Maharashtra. This party ideology was spiced with Hindu-Marathi nationalist pride. Its rivals consider this party as a fanatic and anti-Muslim party. According to the party policy, many places in Maharashtra were renamed with Marathi oriented names. For example Bombay was renamed back to its original name Mumbai .

There are other state parties in India. To name a few there are, National Conference in Kashmir, Haryana Vikas Party in Haryana, Manipur People's Party in Manipur, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak in Goa, Sikkim Democratic Front in Sikkim, Mizo National Front in Mizoram, and many other parties. People who broke away from larger national parties, like the Congress founded some state parties. For example the West Bengal Trinamul Congress, Tamil Manila Congress, Kerala Congress. There are also communist state parties.

National Parties

National parties are political parties which participate in different elections held all over India. Some of the national parties have their origin even before India's independence.
The oldest national party in India is the Indian National Congress (INC). In was established in 1885 as a pro-British Indian organization. Later on it became the main voice of India's freedom struggle. After India's independence, the British passed the administration of India to the leaders of the Indian National Congress. 

Until 1966 the Congress was a stable party. In 1966 Indira Gandhi became the leader of the Congress and Prime Minister of India. From this period the Congress lost its stability. Some of the veteran members of the Congress did not accept her leadership and they tried to dispose her. In 1969 the Congress split and her opponents established a new Congress part. But still INC was the largest and ruling party of India. 

Indira Gandhi's Congress lost the 1977 elections to the Janata Party. A few months after the defeat, another split happened in the Congress party. The party of Indira Gandhi was called Congress ( I ), the initial denoting of her name. During this period many more splits and coalitions occurred within the different Congress parties. Some of these new party members including its founders returned later on to the Congress ( I ) party and the party was renamed Indian National Congress.

But there are others who left the INC at different periods and established parties outside the fold of Congress and have a name Congress in their party name. Before the 1999 elections some senior members of the INC were forced to resign because they questioned the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. These people have created the National Congress Party to participate in 1999 elections.

The INC is in the Indian political arena prior to India's independence. There were other parties, which were established after independence, and, for some period, were challenging the continuous rule of the Congress, some of them were almost vanished from the political arena.
The first political party which, was seen as challenging the Congress continuous rule was Swatantra Party. It was established in 1959 and was supported by some big businessmen. It opposed the socialism policy of the Congress It had members in the Lok Sabha until 1977. Another party, which challenged the Congress party but later on almost vanished from the political arena, was Janata Party. Janata Party was the first political party in India to establish a non-Congress government when it won the 1977 elections.

Janata Party was established before the 1977 elections. The person responsible for the formation of Janata Party was Jayaprakash Narayan, called in short JP. JP was a freedom fighter and a social activist. Many in India respected him and saw in him a moral figure.
In the early 1970s the reign of Indira Gandhi began to show signs of corruption and dictatorship and there was a general feeling that liberal democracy is coming to an end. JP openly attacked Indira Gandhi's policy and asked other leaders to express their views about the dangers. Between 1975-77 emergency rule was declared. During this period many of Gandhi's political rivals were arrested and put behind the bars. Censorship was enforced on Indian press. The justice system was restricted and turned into 'puppet show' of the government. The people also suffered a lot from this emergency rule. Under the birth control policy many people were forced to have sterilization. Even so Indira Gandhi was sure that the Indian people would support her because her general intention was to make India a better place and so she declared elections in 1977.

To prevent her victory different political parties organized as one party. This party was called Janata Party. The main factions of this party were, Congress (O), Lok Dal, Jan Sangh, and other parties. This party won the 1977 elections and Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister of India. But this party as it was formed did not survive for a long time. This party which was actually a group of factions with one desire to defeat Indira Gandhi, did not find any thing common among its members after they defeated Gandhi. As long as JP was alive, the different factions still stayed together. But after his death in 1978 a clear split occurred in the Janata Party between Morarji Desai's supporters and Charan Singh's supporters. In 1979 Morarji Desai resigned as Prime Minister and other members tried to replace Prime Minister. During this period Jagjivan Ram, an untouchable according to strict Hindu society, was very near to become a Prime Minister. But finally Charan Singh of the Lok Dal faction was proclaimed the new Prime Minister. A few weeks after Charan Singh became the Prime Minister, because of the instability in the coalition, the president declared on new elections. 

In 1980 new national elections took place in which Indira Gandhi's Congress again won the elections. Later on after these elections, different factions of the Janata Party broke up from the Janata Party and established their own parties. Among these parties were Jan Sangh which later on was renamed Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Janata Party continues to survive, but is very small. In the 1996 elections it did not win any seat in the national elections and in the 1998 elections it won only one seat. 

Another political party which, was actually a political bloc of different factions and managed to form a government was Janata Dal. This party was established because of the claim that there was corruption in the Congress government. In 1984 Rajiv Gandhi formed the Congress government. The finance minister of his government was VP Singh. VP Singh found out that a Swedish company, Bofors, was bribing some senior members of the Congress. Singh tried to investigate this affair. Gandhi moved him from the office and made him Defence Minister, but Singh resigned from the government and started a new party called Janata Dal. This party was made up of former Janata Party, Lok Dal and some INC members. In the 1989 elections this party came second after INC but it managed to establish a coalition government with other parties. This coalition was called National Front. This front also broke up after two years. 

Between 1996 and 2004 the largest party was the Bhartiya Janata Party. The BJP began its political career after India's independence with only three members in the first elections held in 1952. The BJP is a Hindu nationalist party, which draws its inspiration from Hinduism. This party sees in India a Hindu state and it emphasizes Hindu pride and Hindu past of India. 

This party was established after India's independence, but its origin is also pre-independence. In the 19th century a Hindu nationalist organization, Arya Samaj, was established. The ideas of this organization influenced another Hindu organization established later in British India, the Hindu Mahasabha. Hindu Mahasabha opposed the secular Congress philosophy and wanted to establish a Hindu state in British India. Another Hindu organization in British India was Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), meaning national volunteers organization. One person who belonged in different stages of his life to these two organizations assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. After his assassination these two organizations were outlawed for sometime. The leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Shyam Mookherji resigned from the party and established with the members of RSS a new Hindu nationalist party, which was named Jana Sangh. This party had moderate ideas than the its former components. In its first two decades the party's major holds were in north India's Hindi speaking regions, because this party supported turning Hindi into the national language of India . In 1977 this party was an important faction of the Janata Party. In the 1980s it broke from the Janata Party and changed its name to Bhartiya Jana Sangh. Later on it renamed itself as Bhartiya Janata Party. 

There are also other national parties, which were established in India. The Bahujan Samaj Party was established in the 1980s. But even though this party is a national party, its represents only the oppressed classes of India. Samajwadi Party was established in 1992. Two communist parties, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist party of India- Marxist (CPM) are also national parties. There are some parties who have national agendas but participate only in certain regions of India and not all over India. For example Forward Bloc which participates in elections only in West Bengal and neighboring Bihar.

Political parties in India

The Indian political parties are categorized into two main types. National level parties and state level parties. National parties are political parties which, participate in different elections all over India. For example, Indian National Congress, Bhartiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and some other parties. State parties or regional parties are political parties which, participate in different elections but only within one state. For example Shiv Sena participates only in Maharashtra, Telegu Desam in Andra Pradesh, Akali Dal in Punjab, Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) in Tamil Nadu and there are other such state parties. There are some small communist parties who participate only within one state. Some states have more than one state party. For example in Tamil Nadu another important state party is All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK). Because of these long party names many party names are abbreviated to their initials. 

Some the political parties have their origin from before India's independence, for example, Indian National Congress, Forward Bloc, Akali Dal, National Conference and some other parties. Some of these parties were either social or political organization before India's independence and they became political parties after India's independence. But many of the present parties were established after India's independence. Members, who split from larger parties, established some of these parties. For example in the 1960s, Lok Dal was established by people who split from the Indian National Congress. Communist Party of India (Marxist) was established after the split in Communist Party of India and there are other such examples. 

In Indian politics, there are political parties in which one person pulls all the strings. This feature existed even before India's independence, when Mahatma Gandhi was the father figure of the Indian National Congress until his death in 1948 even though he resigned from the Congress in 1933. Indira Gandhi for some period was in complete control of her party. Her party was also named, Congress (Indira). Shiv Sena is dominated by Bal Thakarey. Even when the Shiv Sena won the state elections in Maharashtra, Bal Thakarey handled the establishment of the state government but did not appoint himself as the Chief Minister but appointed someone else for this post. 

Some of these parties, like the Shiv Sena in which one person pulls all the strings, have their stronghold in the public not because of their leader but because of party ideology. While other parties are completely dependable on the respect the leader of the party has in the public. One such party is Samata Party and its leader is George Fernandes. Another such party was Lok Shakti and its leader was Ramakrishna Hegde. 

Many of the large national parties have a pre-election agreement with smaller parties on joint candidates in some constituencies. This candidate belongs to one of the parties and the other party supports this candidate. This is done to prevent a possibility of parties, with common national agenda or common state agenda, nominate their own different candidates causing the splitting of the votes of their wing and so losing the constituency to the rival wing. 

In Indian politics there are also many independent candidates. These candidates participate in election constituencies independently without the support of any party. In very few cases the larger parties also support independent candidates. 

Another feature unique to Indian politics is the high number of film actors who join the Indian politics. The Indian cinema produces films in different languages. The largest and the most popular film industry is the Hindi language film industry. Many national parties recruit Hindi movie actors in their parties. While many state parties with state chauvinism attract local film industry actors in their parties. These actors do not only appear along side with the party politicians to attract the mob towards the politicians gatherings, but they even participate as candidates in elections. Some of the state parties in south India were established by former movie actors.

Political administration of India

India is a democracy. Before its independence its future leaders chose the liberal democratic system as the administration system of India. On 26/01/1950, India declared itself as Republic. On this day the Constitution of India came into force. Today India is a federation of 28 states and 7 union territories and formally this federation is known as a Union.

Nominally the head of the country is the President in whom all executive powers are vested, but the real administrator of the country is the Prime Minister. After the national elections are held the President calls the most suitable candidate to form a government, known as the central government. Normally this candidate is the head of the largest party in the parliament. In case the government resigns because of any reason, the President can call the other candidate to form the government. The President can also declare, according to government advice, on new elections and if necessary an emergency state. The President has the right to be updated about crucial government matters and other rights like giving amnesty to prisoners etc. According to the Constitution, elections are to be held once in every five years, unless the parliament dissolves earlier or on the other hand, emergency is declared and in such a case parliament can continue another year.

The Indian Parliament consists of two houses. The Lower House called the Lok Sabha and the Upper House called the Rajya Sabha. In the national elections candidates are chosen for the Lower House. The candidates are elected in territorial constituencies. There are 543 territorial constituencies. Two members from the Anglo-Indian community are nominated to the Lower House by the President. The law, which obliges Government office to reserve 15% from the Scheduled Castes and 7% from the Scheduled Tribes, also exists in the Parliament. At least 22% of the Indian Parliament members belong to these two communities. In the past few years there is an attempt to oblige a law to allow about 33% women as Parliament members.

The Upper House, Rajya Sabha, consists of up to 250 members. Of these members 230 are elected by state legislatures and about 15 are nominated by the President. Unlike the Lower House, the Upper House cannot be dissolved, but one third of its members resign every two years.

Most of the parliamentary activities, passing laws, no-confidence votes, budget bills, take place in the Lower House. The Upper House together with the Lower House amends the Constitution. These two Houses together with the state legislatures also elect the President.

The states have their own legislatures. Some states have two Houses and some only one House. The Lower House where most of the legislature activities happen is called the Vidhan Sabha. The state elections are held every five years unless the state government is dissolved earlier. In these elections members for the Lower House are elected.
Head of a state is called Chief Minister, who is member of the Lower House.

Constitutionally the figurehead of the state is the Governor, who is appointed by the President according to the advice of the national government. After the state elections the governor calls for the suitable candidate to form the government. In general the governor has more legislative rights at state level than the President has at national level. The governor can call on early elections in the state, or fire the government if he thinks that the government has failed or is unstable.

In the federal relations between the state and central government, the central government has more authority on state matters than the state government. For example the central government has the right to redistribute the state borders without consulting the state governments on this matter. If the political conditions in any state are not stable, the national government can call on the President to declare President's rule in that specific state. And so the government in that state is dissolved, which means an emergency rule is declared and sometimes if necessary the army is put to work in that state.

Even though the Constitution determinates the rights of the different authorities in the administration process, there can be other pressures like strong lobbies or strong political parties, which, sometimes determinate the real administration process. Sometimes the authority implemented by the President is questioned by the government or by political parties as deviation from his constitutional rights as the nominal head of the Union.

Politics of India

India is the largest democracy in the world. India has the biggest number of people with franchise rights and the largest number of political parties, which take part in election campaign. In the 1996 national elections, almost 600 million people voted and an average of 26 candidates competed for each of the 543 territorial constituency seats. 

Elections are held at different levels. The two major election levels are at national level, after which the national government is established and at state level after which the state government is established. Elections are also held for city, town and village councils. 

There are different political issues in Indian politics. Some are national level and some regional level. Some communities just demand more economical and social rights for their communities. While others demand more autonomy for their cultures within the Indian states. Some demanded autonomous states within the Indian Union, while the others demanded to be independent from India. 
With all its problems India survives as a single state with democratic character. But a number of political problems still exist and remain unsolved in India.