Teaching History India After Independence

India After Independence

Category : Teaching


India after Independence



  • Understand the challenges faced by India after independence
  • Know the drafting of the constitution of India
  • Explore the process of state formation in India
  • Be aware of the formation of Indian Foreign Policy
  • Realise where India is after 70 years of Independence



On 15 August 1947, India became independent after a long freedom struggle with the British. India got independence at the midnight of 15 August 1947. This independence was itself a chain of long struggle and incidences. These incidents not only changed the geographical boundaries of Indian subcontinent but also changed the life of the people who lived in here for hundreds of years. We all know that India is one of the oldest civilisation in the world; however, the new form of state is different from the governance of Mughal empire and other kingdoms and regional states' governance system.



We all know that British empire itself was a complex structure of governance. Some states were directly governed by Britishers and others were governed by alliances with local princely states. Let us see a picture of British India and try to understand their ruling system:

Two colours yellow and pink are used in this map. Yellow areas are directly ruled by Britishers and pink areas are ruled by regional kingdoms or princely states under British treaties. At the time of independence, around 565 princely states were ruled under Britishers. Further, during that time, the British government gave the right to the princely states to choose what they want. This means whether they want to be merged themselves either as India or Pakistan or they want to become an independent princely state.

We first understand how Hindustan got divided into two nations: India and Pakistan. It is a long story, and therefore, we discuss it here briefly. In 1942, a biggest change happened in the

Figure 9.1 India provinces and princely states before 15 August 1947


Indian history and that was Muslim League; they presented two-nation theory and these two nations are Hindus and Muslims. They presented these two religions as two nations, and clearly, they stated that it was not possible for them to live together in the newly independent country because Muslims are in minority and Hindus are in majority. They could not see more opportunities to progress their community. Their customs are different, and therefore, it was not possible to live together. Many things were done in this period. We cannot blame someone because many factors were caused due to this situation. The fundamentalists of both Hindus and Muslims played a role in dividing Hindustan in India and Pakistan. It is really painful situation for millions of people who migrated from India to Pakistan and Pakistan to India. The severally affected area by partition is Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Bengal. Especially, Punjab is the most affected area of partition, where lakhs of people not only migrated but also killed. Indian partition is the world's most unfortunate incident of the 20th century.

The communal riots were the biggest problem for the newly constituted nation. How to resolve this issue was the biggest challenge to our freedom fighters. The most painful thing was that these riots created mistrust in both communities. A large number of people migrated from West Pakistan and East Pakistan. Their settlement was the biggest issue for the government of India. Most of the migrated people were settled in Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, and other Northeastern states. This was the start of challenges for Indian states.

At the time of independence, India had 565 princely states. British government when announced the independence of India, they created many problems for the newly constituted government. British parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947 and British India partitioned into the two new independent dominions: India and Pakistan. On 20 February 1947, British prime minister Clement Attlee announced that British government will grant full self-government for British India by June 1947. This was the start of the challenges of the Indian government. The independence act clearly stated that British India divided into two new sovereign nations: India was the dominion of Hindus and Pakistan was the dominion of Muslims. The British government was not clear about the status of princely states, and therefore, they decided that after June plan they will decide on princely states. In June, governor general of British India, Lord Mountbatten, defined the fate of the Indian princely state; that is, the states can decide whether they want to come with India or Pakistan or they can maintain their independent status of the princely states. The question is that why Britishers did this? Why they gave princely states the right to decide on their fate? The British government announced that they were not directly governed by the Britishers rather they were engaged in the treaties with them. These treaties were based on friendship, and therefore, the British government respected their friends and gave them the right to choose what they want. This right with princely states was the biggest problem for the newly constructed government, Why? If we see British India map, we can understand that situation clearly. Yellow colour presents princely states in that map. These princely states spread all over India. The problem was that if

these states were present as an independent state, then what will happen? It is really hard for any government to govern the country in this type of scattered form. Another thing is that the will of these princely states' people. Most of the princely states do not want to lose their independent status and they want to access their resources freely. However, the main question was what about the people of India. Those people who sacrificed their lives, and their families for Independent India. Reject the unlawful governance of these princely states. After that decision, they had theright to be a free state; it was creating problems for Indian states because at the time of independence, there were 565 princely states in India and after sometime of independence, these states expressed the voice of their public. It created a difficult condition for newly constituted India. The government of India gradually merged these princely states in India through treaties or by force or referendum. At the time of 1947-1948, around 560 princely states chose either India or Pakistan. Five princely states did not want to join either India or Pakistan, and they wanted theirindependent status, such as Jammu and Kashmir, Junagarh, and Hyderabad. Some of the princely states such as Travancore, Bhopal, and Hyderabad announced themselves independent. The State of Hyderabad went forward and appointed their trade representatives in European countries. Hyderabad had'also tried to the negotiate with Portuguese for Goa to give them on lease or sell them for access to the sea. Another state Travancore has pointed out their strategic importance to western countries and offered thorium in excess for recognition. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and V. P. Menon tried hard to integrate princely states and they did this cleverly in step-by-step process. Hyderabad integration in India happened with some force. The other princely states were integrated through the instrument of accession.


In this process, only one person played the most important role. If that person does not co-operate with the government of India, maybe princely state integration would not happened like this. Lord Mountbatten had played important role in United India. Mountbatten had good relationships with princely states and his influence pushed princes to join Indian domain. Lord Mountbatten declared that the British government will grant dominion status only to India and Pakistan. The princely states should join either India or Pakistan; if they did not join either India or Pakistan, they will serve as a part of the British crown. The British government was not willing to grant any other princely states to dominion status and they were not a part of the British common wealth. Mountbatten had personal dialogues with these princely states and convinced them that joining India was beneficial for them. His personal efforts as the head of state were remarkable in ensuring that princely states happily joined the Indian states.


After all, India's independence from the British rule in 1947, there were some of the areas that were continuously ruled under French and Portuguese government. France controlled Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam, and Mahe, and Portugal controlled Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra, and Nagar haveli. On November 1954, French government transferred four enclaves to India, and finally, in 1962, French parliament in Paris ratified a treaty with India. However, the integration of Goa was not easy. In 1947, British empire was dissolved and the Portuguese had hold on some parts of the country. Basically, these were three districts Daman, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli and Diu collectively called Goa. The Portuguese rule lasted until 1954, when Dadra and Nagar haveli enclaves were free and the rest of the territories were free from the Portuguese control in December 1961.


At the time of independence (in 1947), there was another challenge, that is, Indian population was large. It was almost 345 million. This population was divided into various forms such as caste, religion, and language. India was a country of diversity, and we saw that in everything such as language, food, dress, and profession. The question is that how to make it possible when they live in one nation? Without unity, how development is possible and this was another challenge. At the time of independence, largest population lived in villages. A large population was involved in agriculture and agriculture depends on the mansion. The nonfarmer economy was fully dependent on agriculture; if rains were not well and crops failed, they affected carpenter, barbers, weavers, tool makers, and other service groups. They get paid annually after the crops were ready. In urban areas, situation was different. Workers lived in crowded slums and little access to education and health care. In the period of 200 years, colonial era of the Indian economy dramatically changed. How a new nation sustained when they had massive poverty and most of the population was dependent on agriculture? It was necessary for the new government to change the previous strategies and focus on unity and development for all. It is necessary to increase agricultural production and promoting new industries for development. Development had the power to change the society and resolve many differences of the society. After independence, Indian government started focusing on developmental agenda for better future.



We saw in which type of governing system were practicing in India. In British rule, one of a new thing was introduced; in India, it was the rule of law. Why rule of law was so important and what are the differences in the rule of law and previous ruling system? Those are good questions. We all know that there was no governance system that worked without rules and regulations. The previous governing system also had rules and regulations but these rules and regulations are changeable and they depended on rulers' attitude. These rules are not in written form and changed the situation. First time in India, Britishers introduced the rule of law where everyone is equal in front of the.law. There is no discrimination in the rule of law. This introduction of a new type of system that really created a new experience in the country where society were divided into many sections. Britishers set legal system in India and it is a long series of acts were introduced by the British government from time to time. In the modern era, every nation has their written constitution that was based on their needs. Britishers introduced the legal system and formed a government and in this process, two acts played important roles. These acts were Government of Indian Act 1919 and Government of India Act 1935. These acts gave a shape to Indian governing system. These acts were passed by the British according to their requirement. When the British government announced the Indian independence, one of the biggest questions were how new dominion country could work and which type of governing system was suitable for India?


At the end of 1946, it was clear that British India will be divided into two dominion states: India and Pakistan. British government transferred power to some selected people, and they are representatives of mass people. If we see the Indian Independence act 1947, it clearly states that the Constituent Assembly was divided into India and Pakistan. The sovereign power transferred each of new assembly. These assemblies helped to enable draft and enact a new constitution for their separate states. In December 1946, 'Constituent Assembly' were held in New Delhi. Who are these constituents? Who selects them? These constituents were those who elected in the last legislative assembly and representatives of different sections of society and princely states.


The combined constituents' assembly had 389 members, wherein 296 members were from British India and 93 members were from princely Indian states. Election of these members was held ir July-August 1946 in all over British India. Out of 210 seats of general categories, congress won 199 seats. Congress won some seats in reserve categories also; for example, 3 out of the 4 seats in Punjab, 3 seats out of the 78 Muslim seats, and 3 seats from Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, and Coorg. The total tally of congress was 208 out of 296 seats. The Muslim League won 73 seats out of the 78 Muslim seats, which mean that they won most of the seats of the reserved category. The journey of independent India began on 9 December 1946; on this date. Constituent Assembly of India's first session held in Delhi. This was a historic day in the Indian history because this meeting is held for deciding constitutional framework for people of India and government of India.


In the first session of Constituent Assembly, only 207 members attended. The Muslim League tried to stop convening of the assembly, but they failed to do this. Further, the Muslim League decided to stay away with their 76 Muslim members from the Constituent Assembly but Congress elected Muslim members to join the session. On 11 December 1946, the present members of Constituent Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the permanent chairman of Constitution Assembly; later, he was designated as the President of the Assembly. The third session held from 28 April to 2nd May 1947 but Muslim League stayed away from this session also. On 3rd June 1947, Lord Mountbatten announcement determined not only the future of India but also the future of millions of people who lived in the British India. Mountbatten plan announced and made it clear that British India was divided into two sovereign dominion states: India and Pakistan. This was the really painful situation for the people of India but they did not have an option. On 15 august 1947 at midnight, India became independent. The Constituent Assembly separately reconstituted for Pakistan and India, and the members of Indian Constituent Assembly reduced to 299. After 15 august 1947, the Constituent Assembly became a sovereign body. We know that Constituent Assembly responsible for not only framing for the constitution but also for making the ordinary law. Let us see some of the tables that help us to understand how Constituent Assembly worked (refer Table 9.1 and Table 9.2).


Table 9.1 Sessions of the constituent assembly




First Session

9 to 23 December 1946

Second Session

20 to 25 January 1947

Third Session

28 April to 2 May 1947

Fourth Session

14 to 31 July 1947

Fifth Session

14 to 30 August 1947

Sixth Session

27 January 1948

Eight Session

16 May to 16 June 1949

Ninth Session

30 July to 18 September 1949

Tenth Session

6 to 17 October 1949

Eleventh Session

14 to 26 November 1949


Table 9.2 Important committees and their chairmen


Name of the committee


Committee on the Rules of Procedure

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Steering Committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Finance and Staff Committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Credential Committee

Alladi Krishnaswamy lyer

House Committee

K. M. Munsi

Ad hoc Committee on the National Flag

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

State Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru

Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly

G. V. Mavalankar

Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities

Vallabhbhai Patel

and Tribal and Excluded Areas


Minorities Sub-Committee

H. C. Mookherjee

Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee

J. B. Kripalani

North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam  Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee

A. V. Thakkar

 Union Power Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru

Union Constitution Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru

Drafting Committee

B. A. Ambedkar


The work of Constituent Assembly is organised into five stages: first, all committees were asked to present reports on the basic issues. Second, B. N. Rau (the constitutional adviser) prepared an initial draft of the constitution on the basis of committees' reports and researched on other countries' constitution. Third, Drafting Committee presented a detailed draft constitution and then published for public discussion and comments. Fourth, the draft constitution discussed in Constituent Assembly and amendments proposed on the basis of discussions and suggestions. Fifth, after long discussion and amendments, the final draft of the constitution was adopted on 26 January 1950. On 26 January 1950, India became the Republic of India. Let us see a picture of Constituent Assembly,

There were some of the features that we have to know about them. One feature of the constitution was the adoption of universal adult franchise. Franchise means the right to vote. Constitution fixed minimum age of franchise was 21. All Indian males and females who are above 21 had the right to vote in state- and national-level elections. This was a revolutionary step in India because previous British government did not give the right for the Indians to choose their own leaders. If we look at other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, they had been granted a franchise in stages. The granted right of the vote with gender discrimination, they first gave the right to vote for men, and then, after a long struggle of women, they gave them right to franchise. However, after a long discussion on the issue of the franchise, Indian Constituent Assembly agreed to grant the right to vote to all Indian citizens without any discrimination ol caste, class, gender, or education.



Figure 9.2 Session of Indian Constituent Assembly


The division of power between the Central government and the State government was a major issue on The Constituent Assembly. Some of the members were in favour of strong center but other members felt that the provinces should have greater freedom and autonomy. These types of arguments created conflict situation on this issue. Finally, The Constituent Assembly resolved this issue by the division of the subject. They provided three lists of the subject: union list with the subject of taxes, defence, and foreign affairs; these would be the exclusive responsibility of the | central government. State list with a subject of education and health would be the responsibility of state government. The third list was concurrent list included those subjects whose responsibil-

ity is of both state and center such as agriculture and forest. The concurrent list includes those subjects in which both the state and the center would have the joint responsibility.

Another major debate was concerned with language. Many of members of Constituent Assembly favoured that English language should be removed from India with the British rule. They argued that the English language should be replaced by Hindi language but non-Hindi speaking people opposed. They have a different view on language and T. T. Krishanamachari warned the Constituent Assembly that if they imposed Hindi language on people, they would be separated from India. Finally, all members of Constituent Assembly compromised that Hindi would be the 'official language' of India and English language would be used in the services, the courts, and for communication between one state and another state.

Our constitution was a masterpiece of work and it was possible because of the great contribution of many Indians in forming it. Some of the Indians had a remarkable role in the drafting of Indian constitution. One amongst them was Dr. B. A. Ambedkar, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, and under his supervision, the document of constitution finalised. The Drafting Committee has finalised the draft of the Indian constitution. In his Constituent Assembly speech, Dr. Ambedkar pointed out that the it is important that the political democracy had to be accompanied by social and economic democracy in our country. For the

removal of inequality such as upper and lower caste or rich and poor, giving the right to vote would not automatically lead. We have political equality; however, in economic and social life, we have inequality, and the change will not happen through the political equality. Our constitution recognised the principle of one man, one vote, and one value but in our economic and social life, this does not happen because of our economic and social structure continuously denying the principle of one man and one value. Let us see a picture of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar in Drafting Committee discussion.


Figure 9.3  Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar



At present, there are 29 states in India. Most recently, after a long struggle, the Andhra Pradesh state was divided into two new states: Telangana and Andhra. How these states are formed is a good question? In order to try to understand the state formation procedure in India, we have to go back in the 1920s. The main party of freedom struggles, that is, the Indian National Congress, had promised to the different linguistic groups that after independence, each of linguistic groups would have their own province. Independence comes with the partition and India had been divided on the basis of religion. The result of this partition was paid by the killing of more than a million people in Hindu-Muslim riots. The government did not want any other types of partition or divi ion of India that could trigger mass-level riots.

Both the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and deputy Prime Minister of India, Vallabhbhai Patel, were against the creation of linguistic states. The government of India cleared that they only support and promote the thought ideas that help the growth of nationalism and everything that throws obstacles in its way were rejected. The government of India rejected the idea of creating-linguistic states. There were some linguistic groups who wanted to create their own state such as Marathi-speaking, Kannada-speaking, and Malayalam-speaking groups. In Madras Presidency, some Telugu-speaking districts started the strongest protests for their own state. In the general election of 1952, Nehru faced a strong protest with black flags and shouting slogans 'We want Andhra'. In October 1952, the situation dramatically changed when veteran Gandhian leader Potti Sriramulu started a hunger strike in the support of Telugu people's demand. potti Sriramulu's hunger strike attracted much more supporters for the demand of Andhra. It is observed through bandhs and hartals in many towns of Madras Presidency.

Figure 9.4 Potti Sriramulu


After 58 days of hunger strike on 15 December 1952, Potti Sriramulu died. Potti Sriramulu's death triggered the demand of Andhra. The protest widespread in Madras Presidency and forced the government of India to form a new Andhra state. On 1 October 1953, Andhra Pradesh was the first state formed on linguistic basis. The formation of Andhra Pradesh triggered the demands of other linguistic states such as Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Kannada, Tamil, and Malayalam. The government of India set up a State Reorganisation Commission. The commission submitted their report in 1956 and


recommended the redrawing of districts and provincial boundaries on the linguistic basis such as Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu.

The formation of states was based on linguistic communities. The north region of India was largely Hindi speaking. This region is broken into several states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. In 1960, the Bombay Presidency were divided into Maharashtra and Gujarat. Gujarat formed on the basis of Gujarati-speaking community and Maharashtra formed on the basis of Marathi-speaking community. In 1966, Punjab province was divided into two states: Punjab and Haryana. Punjab for Punjabi-speaking people and Haryana

Figure 9.5 The States of India Republic in 1975


for Haryanvi/Hindi-speaking people. In 1975, most of the states were formed on language basis. Look at the following map and try to understand the formed states of Indian Union.

The linguistic basis is not the only way to form a state in India; later, the formation of states changed such as the formation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and new constitute Telangana state. These states are formed on a different basis like development (Table 9.3 and Table 9.4).

Table 9.3 Indian states till 2010


Name of the state

Date of formation


Andhra Pradesh

1 November 1956


Arunachal Pradesh

15 August 1947



15 August 1947



1 April 1936



1 November 2000



30 May 1987



1 May 1960



1 Nov1960


Himachal Pradesh

25 January 1971


Jammu and Kashmir

2 6 October 1947



15 November 1947



1 November 1956



1 November 1956


Madhya Pradesh

1 November 1956



1 November 1960



21 January 1972



21 January 1950



20 February 1987



1 December 1963



1 April 1936



1 November 1966



1 November 1956



16 May 1975


Tamil Nadu

26 January 1950



12 January 1972


Uttar Pradesh

26 January 1950



9 November 2000


West Bengal

1 November 1956


Note: Andhra Pradesh state was divided into Telangana and Andhra on 2 June 2014. Now, India has 29 states.


Table 9.4 Union territories and their date of formation


S. No.

Name of Union Territory

Date of formation


Andaman and Nicobar

1 November 1956



1 November 1956


Dadra and Nagar Haveli

11 August 1961


Daman and Diu

23 May 1987



1 November 1956


National Capital Territory of Delhi




1 July 1963



In 1947, India became the Independent country but India saw the painful partition. At the time of independence, the British handed over a fractured country that suffered from multiple challenges such as poverty, hunger, and unemployment. It is a new start for India as a new nation.


Figure 9.6 Jawaharlal Nehru at Bhilai Steel Plant


The prime duty of the new government of India is to build a modem technical and industrial base for upliftinq Indians out of poverty. The government of India set a Planning Commission that helped in designing policies according to economic needs of India and execute them properly. India chose a mixed economy model. In the mixed economy model, both the public and private have the right to involve in the economic fair. For the rapid development, the planning commission borrows 10-year plan from contemporary USSR and modified it as the five-year plan. The first five-year plan was introduced in 1951 and it gets completed in 1956. The first five-year plan basically focused on agriculture and some other reforms. After completion of the first five-year plan, they focused on heavy industries.


Figure 9.7 Ongoing construction work on Gandhi Sagar Bandh, Chambal river Madhya Pradesh


The second five-year plan was formulated in 1956. The completion of second five-year plan was completed in 1961. This five-year plan was strongly focused on building heavy industries such as large dams and steels. These sectors developed under the state control. Next few decades, the state regulation on economy was guided by economic policies. Many people strongly supported these policies but there were some vocal critics also present. There are some critics who put inadequate emphasis on agriculture. Others point out the negligence of primary education and environmental implications of economic policies. There are both negative and positive aspects of the five-year plans and we cannot deny their importance in India's development. List of five-year Plans are given in Table 9.5.


Table 9.5 Five-year plans


Five-year plan

Time period

First plan


Second plan


Third plan


Fourth plan


Rolling plan


Sixth Plan


Seventh plan


Annual plan


Eight plan


Ninth plan


Tenth plan


Eleventh plan


Twelfth plan




India gained freedom after almost two years later of the Second World War. The United Nation was formed on 24 October 1945. The international governing body was in its infancy stage. In the last phase of Second World War, there were ideological differences between USA and USSR, In the 1950s and 1960s, there was an emergence of cold war between USA and USSR. The whole world was divided into two poles: one is USA and another is USSR both the countries formed their military alliances in all over the world and they tried to attract newly independent third world nation. It was a challenging situation for Indian state during that period. If they became allied with any one of these military alliances, then that means they live in the shadow of these super powers and surrender their sovereignty.

Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister and foreign minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru cleared the foreign policy issue and decided that India should not join any of these military alliances. India developed peaceful relationships with all countries of the world. Nehru who is a hardcore supporter of non-alignment movement shaped Indian foreign policy in non-alignment format. India, Indonesia, Egypt, Yugoslavia, and Ghana try to form non-alignment group for the third world countries. These countries have not joined any military group. Some of these countries played an active role in mediating between the soviet and American alliances, for example, India These countries tried to prevent the war because many of non-aligned countries got involved if wars. In the 1970s, a large number of third world countries joined the non-alignment movemen and this movement provided them a stage to present their opinions and views in front of the world



On 15 august 2016, India celebrated the 70th year of independence. Seventy years of independence is really an achievement for India and Indians. In the journey of last 70 years, India faced so many challenges during this period. India got involved in five unexpected wars with their neighbouring countries. Further, we faced terrorism in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and some parts of the northeast state. There are many achievements and failure in the states of India. Let us analyse these on the basis of the present situation. At the time of independence, many foreign observers had felt that India could not survive as a single country. It will be a break in many parts but Indiais still united and world's biggest democracy. Some others felt that India became a military state or a monarchy but after the emergency of 1975, Indian democracy became more powerful. India qot involved in five wars with their neighbouring countries; however, after partition, no major territorial divisions happened. Last, the most important thing is that for the last 70 years of independence, India faced so many challenges but it is still united and still progressive.

After all remarkable achievements, India still have challenges; for example, after 70 years of independence, Dalits face discrimination and violence against them. There are some parts of rural India where caste-based discrimination still continues and they are not allowed to access water sources, temples, and other public places. Our constitution is based on and follows the idea of secularism but there are many examples of religious clashes in many states. The differences between rich and poor are wider and economic development benefited only for some selective sections of society and others continue to live below the poverty line. In urban areas, situation also not so good because of previous years' unbalanced economic development. Employment and better facilities in urban centres attract the people of the rural area and this is reason for the huge-level migration happened in rural and urban centres. Environmental pollution is another problem of contemporary time. We are saying that the Republic of India is failed but we have lots of things to do for the better life of the people of India.


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India After Independence

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