In this post, it was answered that the formation of India was mainly motivated by becoming strong enough to be kicking British. Now, at this point, with no countries going around colonizing others, why exactly does Indian state's continue to stick together as India?

Why would the states want to split up?

More autonomy for instance. As seen in the history post, it is well discussed of the highly varied culture, food choices etc between the different Indian states. It can also be seen by the political parties which are often elected.

If you see the ruling party by state here, you see that different state have vastly different sense of idea in which they want to go into the future with (see).

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    What would be the benefit of splitting into smaller countries?
    – Joe W
    Jan 8 at 3:52
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    You could ask exactly the same question about the USA, which has quite ideologically divided states and checks notes was also motivated to become strong enough to throw off the British yoke Jan 8 at 4:06
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    The US is culturally a much different state than India, I am sure they must have different reasons to take such decisions. @Punintended Jan 8 at 4:09
  • It did once. And after that so did one of the resulting states, Pakistan. That's a lot of schism for three-quarters of a century.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 10 at 22:25

3 Answers 3


Inertia. Complex constitutional changes such as dividing or forming a new sovereign state are not easy. In general, if a constitutional setup is working well enough it won't fundamentally change.

No doubt if in 1948, Gandhi (et. al.) had negotiated for the creation of 30 independent countries in the territory of British India, we could today be asking "Why don't these countries unite?" Inertia can be powerful in constitutional politics.

Related to this is that to overcome this inertia, there needs to be a strong force to change. This can occur if a region has sufficient numbers of people who feel that they identify more with the region than with the sovereign state of India. However over many years, a strong Indian identity has been created. Often in adversity (first to Britain, later to Pakistan and China).

By contrast, the states of India, which are not defined by language, religion but grew out of the administrative regions of British India, and the various kingdoms. There isn't a strong and distinctive national identity attached to each state (although this does vary from state to state).

The consequence is that there aren't strong separatist movements. Each region feels it is getting something from the federation, and the benefits of independence are not worth the risks and losses.

The various states would each lose something. Indian Punjab, for example, would be more vulnerable to attack from Pakistan if it didn't have the support of the Indian Army. Uttar Pradesh gets simple trade routes through to the ports of Mumbai and Kolkatta. Kerala gets to be part of big free trade area.

The risks include conflict (from trade wars to actual wars) between the newly independent states, or being forced to negotiate less favourable trading arrangements with other countries.

Finally, there is no provision for secession in the Constitution of India. There isn't a clear process for a state to follow to become independent, except armed rebellion and UDI. This just adds to the risks.

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    which are not defined by language Hmmm, might want to qualify that. I have seen it mentioned that English is precisely the lingua franca in India because it allows people from different regions to communicate. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_India: According to the Census of India of 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. For the rest, this seems like a fairly solid answer - small states are less viable in many ways, except in the EU's context where they can join that club. Jan 8 at 19:06
  • What I mean is that language regions only partially match up with state boundaries imgur.com/PDffG2f You can trace the outline of Andhar Pradesh from the distribution of Telegu speakers, but can you see Uttar Pradesh. There is no Sindh state in India. There are a lot of Punjabi speakers in Rajastan etc etc.
    – James K
    Jan 8 at 19:50
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    "the states of India, which are not defined by language, " What??? Indian states are defined by language since 1956. See - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_Reorganisation_Act,_1956 Even the names of many states are the from their language names like TamilNadu, Telangana, Gujarat, Odhisa, Bengal.
    – Mr. K
    Mar 8 at 16:36
  • "The consequence is that there aren't strong separatist movements." What about Kashmir?
    – convert
    Mar 8 at 22:11

Two reasons:

  1. India has already been split in 1947 as Pakistan broke away from India.

  2. No superpower or great power ever tried to split India, be it the USA or the USSR. Being the largest democracy in the world and a non-allied country, India received US support during the Cold War time in the form of noninterference. Actually, the USA initially offered India to join the US pole, but Indian refused [1]. On the other hand, the USSR was had been a close ally of India.

The existence of China has been a huge factor for the Western weakness toward India. Therefore, India has always been a sweet child of the West.

For instance, during the war of 1965 against Pakistan, India received arms from the UK (Centurion tanks) and France (AMX tanks) which changed the course of the war [2]; during the war of 1971, the CIA helped India in supplying arms to Bengali rebels in East Pakistan [3] when the USA was an official ally of Pakistan. India annexed at least 4 states (Hyderabad, Goa, Sikkim, and Junagarh) forcefully, while not a single word has been uttered from the West against India. And, how about the political and armed interference of Indian in its neighboring countries like Sri Lanka (during Tamil insurgency), Nepal (Nepal Blockade in 2015), Bangladesh (Pranab Mukerjee helped Sheikh Hasina to become PM in 2008 by threatening the Army backed government and by staging a controlled election), and the Maldives (Indian Army Out movement is ongoing as of 2022)?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India%E2%80%93United_States_relations#Independence_(1947%E2%80%931997)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistani_War_of_1965#Involvement_of_other_nations

[3] https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1wecnm

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    This doesn't seem to be an answer to the question. It describes the relationship between Indian and "the West" and discusses India's relations with regional powers... It says nothing about "Why does India continue to be a single country?"
    – James K
    Jan 8 at 13:20
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    You mean "India remains a single country because the USA does not force it to split up"?
    – James K
    Jan 8 at 13:23
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    @JamesK, I said no superpower or great power ever tried to split India, be it the USA or the USSR.
    – user366312
    Jan 8 at 13:24
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    @user366312 But many, if not most, splits are not initiated by external factors, but rather internal issues. Nearly everyone wanted Yugoslavia to stick together... except for the Yugoslavs themselves. If Quebec seceded... Quebeckers. If Catalonia... If Wallons... Only rivals typically benefit all that much from breakups. The first part, about Pakistan <-> India split already letting out some pressure is on point though. Jan 8 at 19:26
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, Indian has at least 20 separatist movements going on right now. The existence of undivided Pakistan was a great concern for India as Pakistan before 1971 was instrumental in instigating separatist movements in India.
    – user366312
    Jan 8 at 19:52

Initial Separation

The most important thing that is often not mentioned is that when the British left India they not only split Pakistan and India, but also divided India further into 562 princely states1,2.

At the time of Indian independence in 1947, India was divided into two sets of territories, one under direct British rule, and the other under the suzerainty of the British Crown, with control over their internal affairs remaining in the hands of their hereditary rulers. The latter included 562 princely states, having different types of revenue sharing arrangements with the British, often depending on their size, population and local conditions.

There was already a significant opposition in India for diving the nation into India and Pakistan3. The creation princely states didn't bode well with the public. Although most of these states are annexed with India with British even helping in some cases, this caused a great deal of issues. Some states like Kashmir are facing the problems originated from here. Some also thought this as a continuation of the Divide and Rule policy British followed in India5.

This very early separation of India at the very next day after Independence gave a reason for Indians to stay united. Any cause for separation was viewed with the eyes of scepticism and separatists were treated as anti-nationalists.

Strong Democracy

The second reason is the nature of democracy in India. India's law allows anyone to start a political party and contest in elections. Most communities who feel neglected by the government and opposition end up creating their own political parties to represent themselves. There are currently 2858 political parties in India most of which are local to a certain area and represent a certain community of people. This avoids separatist movement to a certain degree.

Constant wars

India fought 2 major wars shortly after it's independence and was badly affected from them. This also helped in rekindling the nationalist movement in the country.


  1. Political integration of princely states in 1947 and after
  2. Political integration of India
  3. Opposition to the partition of India
  4. End of British Empire | UK national archives
  5. Divide and Rule in Indian subcontinent

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