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Archived article from the January 2001 issue of Princely States Report

New Indian States

According to an official press release of the Goverment of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, three new states were formed in the first half of November 2000, bringing the total number of union states from 25 to 28. The State of Chhattisgarh was created on November 1st, Uttaranchal arrived on the 9th, and Jharkhand State came into existence on the 15th. All three of these states are predominantly tribal in population.

The purpose of this article is to provide some basic facts, and to give you a "taste" of the history of these regions. It is our hope that at least a few philatelists will see these new states as opportunities for new historical exploration. If you are inspired and decide to embark on a new philatelic adventure, please let our readers know! We'll be very pleased to publish your findings. Drop us a note at editor@princelystates.com.

- Ron Rice

The pre-Independence region of Chhattisgarh, from Imperial Gazeteer Atlas of India, 1931. Click to enlarge.


The new State of Chhattisgarh was created with the swearing in of a new Governor and a new Chief Minister in Raipur, the capital, on November 1, 2000. Sixteen eastern and southern districts of Madhya Pradesh make up the new state. It is surrounded by the States of Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and in the north Uttar Pradesh. Chhattisgarh is India's richest state in natural and mineral resources.

Chhattisgarh is and has historically been predominantly tribal. The Gonds form the largest tribal group, and other groups include the Oraon, Kanwar, Baiga, Kamar, Birhar Saura, and Role.

The history of Chhattisgarh can be traced back to very early times when it was known as South Kosala. The name "Chhattisgarh" is less than two centuries old. The region was ruled by the Kalchuries of Ratanpur up to the mid-1800's and then occupied by the Bhonsales of Nagpur. After the fall of Delhi Sultanate in 1857, the region came under the British rule, and with the British administration came railways and extensive population growth. According to the Imperial Gazeteer of India, 1931, the region was known as the Chhattisgarh Division within a greater area known as the Central Provinces.

Those who wish to explore the postal and fiscal history of this region are encouraged to research the princely states of Chang Bakar, Jashpur, Kalahandi, Kanker, Kawardha, Khairagarh, Korea, Nandgaon, Patna, Raigarh, Sakti, Sarangarh, Surguja and Udaipur (not to be confused with the city of Udaipur in Mewar). The area is probably ripe with British postal history. Some of these princely states probably ran internal mail services in addition to the British services. There is a reasonable quantity of known fiscal adhesives and stamp papers from the region.

It is interesting to note that the princely states of Chang Bakar, Korea and Surguja had at various times also fallen within the British administrative region known as the Chota Nagpur Division, which is discussed in the following section on the new State of Jharkhand.

The pre-Independence region of Jharkhand, from Imperial Gazeteer Atlas of India, 1931. Click to enlarge.


The State of Bihar is now only about one-half it's former size, as its southern portion was extracted on November 15, 2000, to form the new State of Jharkhand.

The name Jharkhand (Jhaarkhand, Jhaakhand) has existed since ancient times, and the region has encompassed parts of Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. This area has also been called Khokhra, Nagdesh and Dasranya and Ranchi, after the town of the same name. During the British period, Jharkhand was known as the "Chota Nagpur Division" of British occupied Bengal. This heavily forested area was populated primarily by warring tribes that often faught against the British. Beginning in the late 16th century, the East India Company controlled the region, and in 1858, this power was transferred to the Crown.

This part of British Bengal was bordered on the south by the princely states of Gangpur and Bonai, and to the southwest by the princely state of Mayurbhanj. Gangpur and Bonai are sometimes referred to as "Chota Nagpur States", recognizing their link to the greater area that encompasses modern Jharkhand. From 1912 to 1936 Bihar and Orissa were one province.

Tribes of the Jharkhand region first collectively organized in 1915 for economic purposes. This movement became known as Adivasi Mahasabha in 1938 under the leadership of Jaipal Singh. Upon Independence, Jharkhand was officially part of the Republican state of Bihar, and Adivasi Mahasabha, renamed the Jharkhand Party, won many seats in the Bihar Assembly in the first general election of 1952. Requests for separation of Jharkhand from Bihar were submitted as early as 1953. However, in the years that followed, the Jharkhand Party slowly lost Assembly seats and eventually ceased to exist as a distinct party.

The quest for statehood began to pick up again in 1973 with the formation of Jhaarkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), and by 1985 JMM occupied 13 seats on the Bihar Legislative Assembly. The Jhaarkhand Students Union (AJSU) was formed in 1986 and the Jhaarkhand Co-ordination Committee (JCC) in 1987. Since then, JMM and other organizations continued to gain momentum, leading to the creation of the new State of Jharkhand.

Anyone wishing to explore this region from a philatelic standpoint should look into British Bengal and Orissa, and the princely states of Bonai, Chota Nagpore, Gangpur, Kharsawan, Mayurbhanj, and Seraikela.

The pre-Independence region of Uttaranchal, from Imperial Gazeteer Atlas of India, 1931. Click to enlarge.


In late July, Parliament carved out of 13 hill districts of northern Uttar Pradesh in preparation for the formation of a new state, which was formally created on November 9, 2000. Uttaranchal is bordered by Nepal to the east, the lower Himalayas in the north, and the states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in the west and northwest respectively.

Uttaranchal is a hilly, northern state whose population is primarily tribal. The 13 districts that were extracted from Uttar Pradesh are Almora, Bageshwar, Chamoli, Champawat, Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Pauri Garhwal, Rudra Prayag, Tehri Garhwal, Udham singh Nagar, and Uttarkashi.

In the colonial period, the numerous districts of present Uttaranchal were ruled over by petty hill princes, who owed their allegiance to the British.

Among the prominent nationalist figures who emerged from this region, Gobind Vallabh Pant stands out. The town of Pantnagar in Nainital district has been named after him. Since the 80s, the region has been at the forefront of the environmental movement, spearheaded by Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt. There has also been much opposition to the proposed Tehri Dam in the district of Tehri Garhwal that threatens to wipe away entire villages.

Those who wish to explore the region's postal and fiscal history would do well to investigate the the princely states of Tihri Garwal and Rampur, as well as the northwest portion of the British occupied United Provinces. Also of interest will be the neighboring Punjab States, including Sirmoor, Jind, Patiala, and so on.

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