India will celebrate its 75th Independence Day on August 15th, this year. Our beautiful nation has seen a long, sometimes tumultuous, history behind the formation of its states and Union Territories, each unique in its language, culture, religions, food and topography.
Before Independence, the vast majority of the country was comprised of provinces controlled by the British and 565 princely states ruled by local kings, although they had limited powers.
This also included areas that now come under neighbouring countries like Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh (East Pakistan) and those governed by the Portuguese (present-day Goa) and the French (present-day Puducherry).
On 26th January 1950, our Constitution declared India as a Union of States. For the sake of governance, India was divided into three parts:
Former Governor’s provinces of British India: An elected Governor and the state legislature ruled states which included Bombay, Madras, Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Former princely states: Governed by a Rajpramukh, who was appointed by the President, these included regions like Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, Patiala and the East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Travancore – Cochin.
Former Chief Commissioner’s Provinces & some princely states: Regions like Bhopal, Manipur, Coorg, Kutch, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Ajmer and Bilaspur fell under this category which was ruled by Chief Commissioner, directly appointed by the President.
In 1956, after much discussion and debate, the country came to a consensus on reorganising the states for better management and governance. Hence, the State Reorganisation Act was passed in the parliament. This came into force on November 1, 1956.
The Act led to the formation of 14 States (Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Mysore State, Madras State, Orissa, Bombay State, Assam, Bihar, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) and six Union Territories (Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Laccadive, Minicoy & Amindivi Islands, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura & Manipur).
Over the years, many more states and Union Territories have been added to the country and today India has a total of 28 States and eight Union Territories. We take a look at when these states and UTs were formed and some interesting facts about each one of them: