Crossroads is a video-series by ClearIAS in which we try to help students learn different subjects by inter-linking. Crossroads 1945-1960 is the first part of the series.
In this new learning initiative, Crossroads, ClearIAS will teach you how to memorize different subjects like Indian History, World History, Indian Society, Polity, Economy, Environment and Current Affairs by following the new method of inter-linking.
Though different subjects are covered, the pivot of this concept is History.
Watch Crossroads 1945-1960 (Video Lecture)
The period from 1945 to 1960
The timeline studies start from the period 1945 i.e. after the second world war.
Movements and phenomena associated with this period include the height of the Cold War, postmodernism, decolonisation, a marked increase in consumerism, the welfare state, the space race, the Non-Aligned Movement, import-substitution, counterculture of the 1960s, opposition to the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the sexual revolution, the beginning of second-wave feminism, and a nuclear arms race etc.
The world after the second world war
As we know the Second World War was one of the greatest communal events in human history.
Between 1937 and 1945 more than 100 million men and women were mobilised into the armed forces around the world. Hundreds of millions of civilians were also dragged into the conflict – as factory workers, as suppliers of food or entertainment, as prisoners, as slave labourers, and as targets. Every corner of the planet, even those far from the fighting, was affected by this global catastrophe. The end of the war is often remembered as an idealistic time, often referred to as the zero-year marking the beginning of new world order.
America emerged in 1945 as the undisputed victor of the war. It had the largest navy, the largest air force, and an army that was rivalled only by that of the Soviets.
Hence two great powers forming two super-power blocs US and the Soviet Union emerge with an undeclared Cold War between them. Their ideologies, communism and capitalism emerge as strong ideologies, fighting each other while expanding.
Condition of other participants of the war
The main parties in the war had to pay their price after the Second world war came to a halt.
Germany started with the process of denazification. It was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of the National Socialist ideology (Nazism), solidified by Potsdam Agreement.
At the same time in Japan, the Zaibatsu system was being demolished. Zaibatsu is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial vertically integrated business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II.
After World War II they were dissolved by the Allied occupation forces and succeeded by the Keiretsu (groups of banks, manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors). However, complete dissolution of the zaibatsu was never achieved, mostly because the U.S. government rescinded the orders to reindustrialize Japan as a bulwark against communism in Asia. But their old influence and power had been destroyed.
Condition in South America
In Latin America as elsewhere, the close of World War II was accompanied by expectations, only partly fulfilled, of steady economic development and democratic consolidation. Military dictatorships and Marxist revolution were among the solutions put forward, but none were truly successful. Military dictatorships fell like ninepins in Ecuador, Venezuela, Guatemala and Bolivia. Peru held its first-ever free elections in 1945.
Effect of World War on advancement in the field of Science and Technology
Even in the field of science and technology world war had a great impact. In fact, no war had as profound an effect on the technologies of our current lives than World War II (1939-45). And no war was as profoundly affected by science, math, and technology than WWII. We can point to numerous new inventions and scientific principles that emerged during the war. These include-
- Advances in rocketry, pioneered by Nazi Germany. They developed the so-called “V-weapons” which were a particular set of long-range artillery weapons designed for strategic bombing during World War II. It included the V-1 or buzz bomb which was an automatic aircraft (today known as a “cruise missile”) and the V-2 which was a ballistic missile that flew into space before falling down on its target
- Electronic computers were developed by the British for breaking the Nazi “Enigma” codes, and by the Americans for calculating ballistics and other battlefield equations.
- The entire technology of radar, which is the ability to use radio waves to detect objects at a distance, was barely invented at the start of the war but became highly developed in just a few years. It was this technology that later helped in the development of modern electronics especially television.
- World War II also saw advances in medical technology. Penicillin was not invented during the war, but it was the first mass-produced during the war. Pesticides like DDT came into being to protect the soldiers from mosquitoes.
In India, efforts had begun even before the independence to invest in science and technological advancements. Our leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawahar Lal Nehru etc. greatly emphasised on scientific temper and its development in society. Here, under the guidance of Dr. Homi Bhabha, a strong pursuit for nuclear researches and advancements were on since 1941. In 1948 the Atomic Energy Commission of India was formed with Dr. Bhabha as the chairman.
Time of struggle for independence in many countries
In Asia, many countries were working on their independence during World War II. For instance, the future prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, frequently invoked the Second World War as one of the major factors in his country’s rebirth as an independent nation.
Indonesian struggle against Dutch (1945-50)
The Indonesian National Revolution or Indonesian War of Independence took place between Indonesia’s declaration of independence in 1945 and the Netherlands’ recognition of Indonesia’s independence at the end of 1949. Indonesia’s future president, Sukarno, went so far as to thank god for the recent years of violence, which had given birth to a “free Indonesia tempered in the fire of war”. For these countries and many more across Asia and Africa, 1945 was presented as the dawn of a new age.
Vietnam war against France (1945-54)
Also known as the First Indochina War (generally known as the Indochina War in France, and as the Anti-French Resistance War in Vietnam) began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, and lasted until July 20, 1954. In 1954, the Geneva Conference was held to settle outstanding issues resulting from the Korean and Indochina War.
Freedom of Ceylon and Burma (1948)
The Burmese Declaration of Independence was officially promulgated on 4 January 1948, marking the end of British rule in Burma (now Myanmar).
The Sri Lankan independence movement was a peaceful political movement which was aimed at achieving independence and self-rule for the country of Sri Lanka, then British Ceylon, from the British Empire. The switch of powers was generally known as a peaceful transfer of power from the British administration to Ceylon representatives. Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon on 4 February 1948.
In India, the freedom struggle was on. In 1946, the cabinet mission plan was sent. An interim government was formed. First session of the constituent assembly was held on 9th Dec 1946. The Mountbatten Plan of India’s partition is announced and the Indian Independence Act is passed in 1947.
So, when the entire world was undergoing a massive change. Let us deeply delve into the events that were shaping our nation formation. Let us see what all incidents were happening in India simultaneously during this period. Let us begin with the political situation.
The political situation in India
After independence, our country faced major challenges like:
- The division of assets
- The Refugee Problem
- Origin of the Kashmir Problem
- Foundation of the Indian Democracy
- Linguistic Reorganization
The country had to sort it out one by one. The foremost challenge of integration of princely states was taken up by Sardar Vallabhai Patel who along with V. P. Menon convinced the rulers of princely states contiguous to India to accede to India. British India then consisted of 17 provinces and 562 princely states.
There were three states that proved more difficult to integrate than others which were-
- Junagadh (Hindu-majority state with a Muslim Nawab) – With the independence of India in 1947, the princely states were left by the British to decide whether to accede to one of the newly independent states of India or Pakistan or to remain outside them. The then Nawab of Junagarh had announced that Junagarh would accede to Pakistan. The majority of the people of Junagarh revolted, leading to the near-collapse of the state government, and India had to send its military into Junagarh. In December 1947 plebiscite was conducted in Junagarh where 91% of the population of Junagarh voted to merge with India, annulling the controversial accession to Pakistan.
- Hyderabad (Hindu-majority state with a Muslim nizam)– by 1948 when almost all states had acceded to either India or Pakistan, there was an exception of the principality of Hyderabad. The Nizam of Hyderabad chose independence and hoped to maintain this with an irregular army recruited from the Muslim aristocracy, known as the Razakars. With the rise of militant razakars, India found it necessary to station Indian troops and invaded the state (under an operation codenamed Operation Polo) in September 1948 to compel the Nizam. Subsequently, the Nizam signed an instrument of accession. It was incorporated as a state of India the next year.
- The area of Kashmir (Muslim-majority state with a Hindu king) in the far north of the subcontinent quickly became a source of controversy that erupted into the First Indo-Pakistani War which lasted from 1947 to 1949. Eventually, a United Nations-overseen ceasefire was agreed that left India in control of two-thirds of the contested region. Jawaharlal Nehru initially agreed to Mountbatten’s proposal that a plebiscite be held in the entire state as soon as hostilities ceased, and an UN-sponsored cease-fire was agreed to by both parties on 1 Jan. 1949. No statewide plebiscite was held, however, for in 1954, after Pakistan began to receive arms from the United States, Nehru withdrew his support. The Indian Constitution came into force in Kashmir on 26 January 1950 with special clauses for the state i.e. the article 370.
Demand for linguistic reorganisation
The demand for states on a linguistic basis had started even before independence. This attained more strength after the initial political integration of provinces and princely states. However, the government got concerned that the state solely formed on a linguistic basis might be unsuitable and might pose some potential risk to the unity of the nation.
On June 17 1948, Dr Rajendra Prasad set up a linguistic provinces commission including SK Dhar, popularly known as the Dhar commission.
They recommended the reorganization on the basis of:
- Geographical continuity
- Financial self-sufficiency
- Administrative convenience
- And the capacity for future development
However, resentment continued and the Dhar commission was followed up by JVP committee. Amidst all this, the first constitutional amendment is passed in 1951. It provided against abuse of freedom of speech and expression, validation of zamindari abolition laws, and clarified that the right to equality does not bar the enactment of laws which provide “special consideration” for weaker sections of society. It amended Article 19 for the purposes indicated above and to insert provisions fully securing the constitutional validity of zamindari abolition laws in general. Article 31A and 31B was introduced to validate enactments related to Zamindari Abolition. It brought in schedule 9 of the constitution to protect the land reform and other laws present in it from the judicial review.
Another major happening in this line is that in 1952 India conducts its first general election.
The economic situation of post-independent India
Before moving into further political advancements let’s see what were the economic scenario in India during these initial years. While our country was busy integrating states and going on war with Pakistan, parallel efforts of boosting the Indian economy, expanding the welfare, income and industrial development were being worked upon, as discussed below-
- 1947: India’s first finance minister, R.K. Shanmukham Chetty tabled the country’s first Union budget in Parliament.
- The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1948 proposing a mixed economy- It envisaged a substantial public sector with state interventions and regulations in order to protect indigenous industries
- Minimum wages Act of 1948 -1. It declared that governments (both central and states) not economic agents would decide the amount of wages paid, even before industrialisation started in India.It aimed to set the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours.
- Factories Act 1948- Laws on factories have been there since 1881. The Factories Act was comprehensively enacted on 23 September 1948 to protect workers in factories, by consolidating and amending the law that regulated condition of labour in factories (occupational safety and health).
- Development finance institutions Act, 1948 – The first financial institution and development bank to be created after Independence, Industrial Finance Corporation of India (now IFCI Ltd), was formed on 27 March 1948
The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1948 defined the broad contours of the policy delineating the role of the State in industrial development both as an entrepreneur and authority. It made clear that India is going to have a Mixed Economic Model. The emphasis on mixed economy resulted in greater involvement of the state in different segments of the economy.
The Industries (Development and Regulation) Act was passed in 1951 to implement the Industrial Policy Resolution, 1948.
The Reserve Bank of India, India’s central banking authority, was established in April 1935 but was nationalized on 1 January 1949 under the terms of the Reserve Bank of India (Transfer to Public Ownership) Act, 1948 (RBI, 2005b). In 1949, the Banking Regulation Act was enacted, which empowered the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to regulate, control, and inspect the banks in India. The Banking Regulation Act also provided that no new bank or branch of an existing bank could be opened without a license from the RBI, and no two banks could have common directors.
Formation of Planning Commission:
This was followed up by setting up of a Planning Commission (the successor of planning committee formed by Subhash Chandra Bose under Jawahar Lal Nehru as the head). After India achieved independence, a formal model of planning was adopted, and accordingly, the Planning Commission, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of India, was established on 15 March 1950, with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as the Chairman. The first five-year plan comes into force.
Passing Indian Industries Act, 1951-
To implement the industrial policy of 1948. The period is marked with the beginning of license raj.
Establishing ISI (Indian Standards Institution) in 1952-
The ISI was established in the year 1947. It has been renamed as the ‘Bureau of Indian Standards ‘. Its main objective is to lay down quality standards for consumer and industrial goods. Symbolic of the role, the Indian Standards Institution (I.S.I.) was to play the first standard drawn for independent India. It was legalised in 1952 by an act of parliament.
Nationalising Air India, 1953-
In 1952, the condition of all the airlines witnessed a general deterioration all over the world. To rescue the airline sector of the country, Planning Commission of India recommended the merger of all the scheduled airlines into a single integrated corporation. Parliament voted to nationalise nine airlines. The function of the corporations was to provide safe, efficient, adequate, economical and properly coordinated air 92 transport services, whether internal or international or both.
In 1953, the Government of India passed the Air Corporations Act and purchased a majority stake. However, this act of government is often criticised as leading to the under-development of the aviation sector in India instead.
Nationalising Imperial Bank in 1955-
Furthering the nationalisation process anther major event was the nationalisation of Imperial Bank, forming State Bank of India. The Imperial Bank of India came into existence on 27 January 1921 through the reorganisation and amalgamation of the three Presidency Banks of colonial India into a single banking entity. The Imperial Bank of India performed all the normal functions which a commercial bank was expected to perform. In the absence of any central banking institution in India until 1935, the Imperial Bank of India also performed a number of functions which are normally carried out by a central bank. After RBI came into force it acquired a controlling interest in the Imperial Bank of India in 1955, which was renamed on 30 April 1955 to the State Bank of India and later legalised.
So, we know that many efforts were ongoing with the aim of transforming the Indian economy. Meanwhile, let us not forgot that our issue of linguistic reorganisation had not yet been finished. In 1953, in an effort to protect the interests of the Telugu people of Madras State, Potti Sreeramulu attempted to force the Madras state government to listen to public demands for the separation of Telugu-speaking districts (Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra) from Madras State to form Andhra State. He went on a lengthy fast and only stopped when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru promised to form Andhra State. While in 1954 Kashmir’s constituent assembly ratifies its accession to India.
Continuing with the institutional developments-
Setting up of Oil and Gas division-
After independence, the Central Government of India realized the importance of oil and gas for rapid industrial development and its strategic role in defence. Consequently, while framing the Industrial Policy Statement of 1948, the development of the petroleum industry in the country was considered to be of utmost necessity. Until 1955, private oil companies mainly carried out exploration of hydrocarbon resources of India. Later an Oil and Natural Gas Division was set up in October 1955 under the Geological Survey of India to explore and develop hydrocarbon resources of India. The same year, the division was converted into an Oil and Natural Gas Directorate then into a commission and finally, after three years, it was converted into a statutory body.
Essential commodities Act 1955-
It was passed to regulate the production, supply and distribution of ‘essential’ commodities such as drugs, oils, kerosene, coal, iron, steel and pulses, considering the situation of the Indian economy that was ravaged by famine and food shortages.
- After all these necessary reforms time was up for the second five-year plan that was mandated in 1956. Related to it, the second industrial policy resolution was passed in 1956.
- Nationalisation of LIC
It was conducted with an objective to prevent unfair trade practices. The act followed the Second Five Year Plan and the industrial policy resolution of 1956, both of which codified the Licence Raj and looked at all private enterprises with suspicion.
Switching to the world view
Tibetan uprising (1959):
It was an uprising against the presence of the People’s Republic of China in Tibet. Well, the story goes like this that Buddhist Tibet, a vast Himalayan area of plateaus and mountains, declared independence from China in the early 20th century but Beijing took back control in 1951, having sent in thousands of troops. The Dalai Lama, chosen at the age of two in 1937 as the 14th incarnation of Tibetan Buddhism’s supreme religious leader, was enthroned as the head of state after the Chinese invasion.
His co-existence with the Beijing authorities was tense and when the Chinese authorities summoned him to an event without his bodyguards on March 10, Tibetans feared a trap that could endanger their leader. To this Beijing responds by sending more troops. The failure of the armed rebellion ultimately resulted in a violent crackdown on Tibetan independence movements, and the flight of the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso into exile. The Dalai Lama evaded Chinese authorities and slipped away dressed as a soldier, escaping to India with an entourage of supporters in a gruelling two-week trek through the Himalaya. This incident has an implication on the future Indo-China War of 1962.
Listening to the Tibetan story let me remind you there were other major happenings, that we need to remember, which were shaping the course of the current world. One among this was the formation of Israel.
In 1947, the British Government referred to the question of the future of Palestine to the United Nations, following the huge influx of Jews to Palestine after the second world war. UN voted to split the land into two countries. Jewish people accepted the agreement and declared the independence of Israel. This was not liked by the Arab nations and they declared war against Israel. However, Israel emerges victorious in the war. In 1950 Israel passes the “law of return”, granting automatic citizenship to any immigrant Jew.
Another important event happening around the same time was the Korean war that started in 1950. This happened when during the beginning of the cold war, the Soviet dispensation backed a communist regime in Korean peninsula’s Northern region. And at the same time, US faction was backing a liberal government that eventually took control of the southern part of the peninsula.
The inter-Korean war lasted for three years between 1950 and 1953, which was a proxy war between USSR and the US. India under Nehru was actively involved in negotiating peace in the Korean peninsula by engaging all the major stakeholders – the US, USSR and China. In late 1952, the Indian resolution on Korea was adopted at the UN with unanimous non-Soviet support.
The situation in Taiwan
The next incident was the take-over of Taiwan by kai-shek. After the end of World War II, the Chinese Civil War resumed between the Chinese Nationalists (Kuomintang), led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Zedong. Through-out the months in 1949, the Chinese communist party gains control in the Chinese mainland leading to defeat of the nationalist army. The nationalist party then evacuates its office and shifts it to Taiwan then known as Formosa, forming the Republic of China. This is followed by a series of events. Eventually, the ROC loses its UN seat which is given to Peoples republic of china.
World economic updates
- The post–World War II economic expansion, also known as the golden age of capitalism.
- In 1945 the lending arm of World Bank, IBRD is established. The IBRD provides commercial-grade or concessional financing to sovereign states to fund projects that seek to improve transportation and infrastructure, education, domestic policy, environmental consciousness, energy investments, healthcare, access to food and potable water, and access to improved sanitation.
- In 1956 the second member of world bank group IFC is established as the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, to advance economic development by investing in for-profit and commercial projects for poverty reduction and promoting development.
Important Environmental Updates
- In 1948 the World Conservation Union or International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is established. It is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation.
- In 1954 the first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid started operations at Obninsk, Soviet Union.
- In 1956 starts surfacing the Minamata disease, a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning.
To be continued…
The timeline study of the current video ends here.
This is to be continued with another period of timeline studies via crossroads at CearIAS.
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Lecture by: Honey Mathew