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Spectrum: Summary of Challenges before The New-Born Nation - History for UPSC CSE

First Day of Independent India

On August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, as Prime Minister of India, hoisted the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of Red Fort in Delhi.

First Cabinet After Independence

  • The governor-general and the ministers were sworn in. Jawaharlal Nehru took charge as the first Prime Minister of India on August 15, 1947, and was assisted by 15 other members. Sardar Patel served as the deputy prime minister till his death in December 1950.
  • Lord Mountbatten, and later C. Rajagopalachari served as Governor-General till January 26, 1950, when India became a republic and elected Rajendra Prasad as its first president.

Independent India, however, had to face several challenges.

Immediate Challenges

  • Territorial and administrative integration of princely states, communal riots, rehabilitation of nearly 60 lakh refugees migrated from Pakistan, protection of Muslims living in India as well as those going to Pakistan from communal gangs, need to avoid war with Pakistan, Communist insurgency, etc.

Medium-Term Challenges

  • Framing of the Constitution for India, the building of a representative, democratic and civil libertarian political order, elections, and the abolition of feudal set up in agriculture, etc.

Long Term Challenges

  • National integration, economic development, poverty alleviation, etc.

Radcliffe’s Boundary Award and the Communal Riots

  • West Punjab which went to Pakistan received 62,000 square miles of territory and 15.7 million people (census 1941), of whom 11.85 million were Muslims. (Numbers not important, just analyze number yourself only)
  • East Punjab (India's share) received 37,000 square miles of land area, with a population of 12.6 million, of whom 4.37 million were Muslims.
  • West Bengal became part of India with a territory of 28,000 square miles, and a population of 21.2 million, of whom 5.3 million were Muslims
  • East Bengal, which constituted East Pakistan, got 49,400 square miles of territory and 39.10 million people

➢ Challenges before the Boundary Commission

  • Boundary Commission consisted of two Muslims and two non-Muslim judges in each case and worked under serious constraints.

➢ Regions Most Affected by Riots

  • Regions through which the Radcliffe line was drawn became the most violent and the maximum number of murders, rapes, and abduction of women and children took place.

Challenges Associated with Division of Resources

Division of Civil Government 

  • To resolve the division of civil government amicably, a partition council, presided over by the governor-general and consisting of two representatives each of India and Pakistan, was set up. All civil servants were offered to give their option about the Dominion they wanted to serve.

Division of Finances

  • Pakistan wanted a one-fourth share of the total cash balances, but India had to point out that only a small portion of the cash balances represented the real cash needs of undivided India and the rest was maintained only as an anti-inflationary mechanism.

Division of Defence Personnel and Equipment

  • For a smooth division of the armed forces and their plants, machinery, equipment, and stores, a joint defense council, headed by Auchinleck as its Supreme Commander, was set up. the British troops started to leave India on August 17, 1947, and the process was completed by February 1948.

The Assassination of Gandhi

  • On the evening of January 30, 1948, as he carried on his usual prayer meeting at Birla mansion (New Delhi), Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse. Communalism and misinterpretation of nationalism were two fundamental factors under whose influence Godse killed Gandhi.

Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Refugees

  • The people displaced by partition were 'refugees' in the sense that they had not left their homes voluntarily. The Indian government established an emergency committee of the cabinet to deal with the crisis in Delhi, and a Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation to look after the refugees.

East Punjab

  • For urban refugees, the government started industrial and vocational training schemes, and even grants were given to start small businesses or industries. Rural refugees were given land, agricultural loans, and housing subsidies.


  • The problem was much more prolonged and complicated in Bengal. By 1948, only a small group of high-caste, landed or middle-class Hindus migrated to West Bengal by arranging the exchange of property or jobs on individual levels. 
  • But during December 1949 and January 1950, due to a fresh outbreak of violence in Khulna, a large number of peasants started to leave East Pakistan. In revenge, anti-Muslim riots started in February 1950 and forced about one million Muslims to leave West Bengal.

Delhi Pact on Minorities

  • To resolve the problems of refugees and restore communal peace in the two countries, especially in Bengal (East Pakistan as well as West Bengal), the Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Pakistani prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, signed an agreement on April 8, 1950. 
  • The agreement, known as the Delhi Pact on Minorities or Liaquat- Nehru Pact, envisaged the appointment of ministers from minority communities in both Pakistan and India at both central and provincial levels. 
  • Under the pact, minority commissions were to be set up, together with the Commissions of Inquiry to look into the probable causes behind the communal riots on both sides of the border

Centers of Refugee Settlements in India- 

  • In Delhi, Lajpat Nagar, Rajinder Nagar, Punjabi Bagh, Nizamuddin East, and Kingsway Camp were some areas developed into housing complexes to settle the refugees permanently. 
  • People who came from West Pakistan settled in states like Punjab (which at the time included the present-day Haryana) and Himachal Pradesh. The Sindhi Hindus settled in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. Ulhasnagar (city of joy), in Maharashtra, was specially developed to settle refugees from Sindh areas.

Communists and Independence 

  • In December 1947, the Communist Party of India (CPI) had denounced the Indian independence as 'fake' The Communist insurgency spread to other parts of India especially in West Bengal which saw the revival of the Tebhaga Movement and an urban insurgency in Calcutta.

Why Communists were Skeptical about Independence?

  • They believed that a policy of class struggle and armed insurgency against the State-run by the Congress, alleged as collaborationist bourgeoisie, was necessary to shift the attention of the masses from the politics of communal hatred that shrouded the country after partition.
  • The late 1940s and the early 1950s witnessed communist successes in Asian countries like China, Malaya, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Burma (Myanmar).
  • According to Ramachandra Guha, the CPI leadership, encouraged by the initial successes of the Telangana movement, misconceived the scattered disillusionment with the Congress as revolutionary potential, and thought this as the 'beginning of Red India'.

The shift from Antagonistic Strategy to Constitutional Democracy

  • The communist movement remained localized in Hyderabad and West Bengal. The mass support was sporadic and conditional as people were not ready to reject the Congress so soon after Independence. The government also decided to take stern action; while in the Hyderabad region the Indian armed forces continued its police action’, in West Bengal the CPI was banned in March 1948, and in January, a security act was passed to imprison the communist leaders without trial
  • In September 1950, prominent communist leaders like Ajoy Ghosh, S.A. Dange, and S.V. Ghate criticized the organization for its faulty strategies and its failure to take notice of the true picture of independent India. Consequently, in October 1951, at the Third Party Congress of the CPI, held in Calcutta, a significant shift in its policy was endorsed.

The document Spectrum: Summary of Challenges before The New-Born Nation | History for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on Spectrum: Summary of Challenges before The New-Born Nation - History for UPSC CSE

1. What were the challenges faced by independent India on its first day?
Ans. On its first day, independent India faced several challenges such as the partition, communal riots, displacement of people, economic instability, and the task of establishing a democratic government.
2. How did the partition affect independent India on its first day?
Ans. The partition of India in 1947 resulted in widespread violence and communal riots, leading to the displacement of millions of people. This created a significant challenge for independent India to manage the influx of refugees and restore peace and harmony.
3. What economic challenges did independent India face on its first day?
Ans. Independent India faced economic challenges such as a crippled industrial sector, low agricultural productivity, inadequate infrastructure, and an unstable economic framework. The country had to focus on rebuilding its economy and establishing a sustainable growth trajectory.
4. What was the immediate task for independent India's government on its first day?
Ans. The immediate task for independent India's government was to draft and implement a constitution that would establish the principles and framework of the nation. This involved ensuring democratic governance, protection of fundamental rights, and setting up institutions for effective administration.
5. How did independent India address the challenges of its first day?
Ans. Independent India addressed the challenges of its first day by taking various measures such as implementing relief and rehabilitation programs for the displaced, initiating economic reforms, investing in infrastructure development, and focusing on social welfare policies. The government also worked towards fostering unity and secularism to overcome the communal divide.
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