Remapping India

New States and Their Political Origins

October 2013 9781849042291 288pp


There is a widespread consensus today that the constitutional flexibility to alter state boundaries has bolstered the stability of India’s democracy. Yet debates persist about whether the creation of more states is desirable. Political parties, regional movements and local activists continue to demand new states in different parts of the country as part of their attempts to reshape political and economic arenas. Remapping India looks at the most recent episode of state creation in 2000, when the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand came into being in some of the poorest, yet resource-rich, regions of Hindi-speaking north and central India. Their creation represented a new turn in the history of the country’s territorial organisation. This book explains the politics that lay behind this episode of ‘post-linguistic’ state reorganisation and what it means for the future design of India’s federal system.


‘Tillin’s book is a reminder of how the lower and middle castes have increasingly shaped Indian politics, and of how important the states and state elections have become within the union.’ — Financial Times

‘…an exceptionally astute text, full of theoretical and empirical detail and longer-term historical insights into why states reorganisation occurred in northern India in 2000 – it should thus serve as one of the essential texts on federal restructuring within South Asia, and other federal systems further afield, for years to come.’ — LSE Review of Books

‘Remapping India is an insightful, timely and much-needed exploration of the creation of new states in India, which also contributes to the study of state–society relations in contemporary India.’ — International Affairs

‘Tillinn’s book could not be more timely … It is extremely well written and engaging and, in her engagement with caste tensions, centre-state relations and the politics of the party system at the national and state level, has knitted together an impressive amount of theoretical material to provide a convincing explanation for the creation of new states. … It should be read by all scholars of Indian politics.’ — Katharine Adeney, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics

‘At a point of time when India’s economy and foreign relations is of the utmost importance, the book introduces readers – students, academics, researchers, bureaucrats and policy-makers – to the ongoing internal territorial transformation in India.’— Contemporary South Asia

‘Tillin, in a well-researched, insightful and cogently argued book, not only examines the creation of three new states in 2000, but delves into the manner in which new states have been formed in India after 1956 … Timely and of contemporary relevance, … Remapping India contibutes greatly to our understanding of nation-building.’ — Seminar

‘A well-researched attempt to explain how “longer term changes in local structures of poer and the relations between social groups” have become the prime motivation for “post-linguistic” reorganisation of states.’ — Financial Express

‘A beautifully presented, well written and admirably researched book.’ –– Robin Jeffrey, author of India’s Newspaper Revolution and co-author of The Great Indian Phone Book

‘An elegantly written and insightful study of an aspect of Indian political development that has hitherto received surprisingly little attention from scholars — the creation of new states in what is the world’s most populous federal union. The doubling of the number of states within the Republic of India, from fourteen in 1956, following linguistic reorganisation, to twenty-eight in 2000, almost seemed to happen by stealth, in dribs and drabs. However, on three occasions — in 1972, 1987 and 2000 — clutches of three states were created. Remapping India focuses on the last instance to explore the politics.’ — James Chiryankandath, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

‘This fascinating book offers not only comparative examinations of three new states of the Indian Union — Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh — but also an explanation of the making of the three largest Indian states which have not been carved out on the basis of linguistic criteria. Louise Tillin painstakingly shows that they have almost been the unintended consequences of the dynamics of a multilevel federal structure in the context of the erosion of Congress domination, the rise of the lower castes and the surge of Hindu nationalism in the 1990s. An important book for all students of Indian politics.’ — Christophe Jaffrelot, Research Director at CNRS and author of Religion, Caste and Politics in India

Sophisticated and credible. Tillin combines cogent explanation with historically informed argument, a rare feat in the literature on India. Her emphasis on the rise of non-Brahmin caste groups, and competition among social movements provides a fascinating glimpse into the changing political sociology of the Hindi belt. Her findings will resonate beyond the three cases she analyzes in providing a new picture of the emergence of new caste groups at the forefront of politics in North and East India.’ — Aseema Sinha, Wagener Chair in South Asian Politics and George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont Mckenna College

‘Tillin gives us a scholarly yet accessible account of how complex processes of mass mobilisation and popular struggle, coupled with astute political calculations, underlie the creation of India’s new states. Drawing upon a vast array of sources, this is an extremely insightful analysis, and indispensable reading for students and analysts of Indian politics and federalism.’ — Balveer Arora, Chairman, Centre for Multilevel Federalism and President, Alliance Française, New Delhi

‘[Remapping India] is pioneering in terms of provid[ing] a detailed story of the creation of the three new States in the Indian federation, and makes a very important contribution to Indian federalism.’ — The Book Review

‘Articulate and engaging, this is a unique study on state reorganisation that emphasises well the actual lived experiences of the process. It traces the multiple trajectories along which new maps were redrawn. State reorganisation emerges as a means to reconcile identities and aspirations, of people and politicians, in a rapidly changing political climate.’ — South Asia Research


Dr Louise Tillin (BA Cantab, MA UPenn, DPhil Sussex) is Lecturer in Politics at King's College London, and Deputy Director of the King's India Institute. Before coming to King’s, Louise was the Joyce Lambert Research Fellow in Politics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. She has taught subjects including Indian Politics, the Political Economy of Development and Development anagement at Cambridge, LSE, SOAS, Sussex and the Open University. She completed her DPhil at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, and was formerly a Thouron scholar in South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining academia, Louise worked in various roles in BBC News including as a South Asia analyst.

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