Central Provinces and Berar
The Central Provinces and Berar was a province of British India and later the Dominion of India which existed from 1936 to 1950. It was formed by the merger of the Central Provinces with the province of Berar. The Central Provinces and Berar comprised 19th-century British conquests from the Mughals and Marathas in central India, and covered much of present-day Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra states. Its capital was Nagpur.
The Central Provinces was formed in 1861 by the merger of the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories and Nagpur Province. Administration of the Marathi-speaking Berar region of the Hyderabad princely state was assigned to the Chief Commissioner to the Central Provinces in 1903, and Berar was merged with the Central Provinces to form the new Central Provinces and Berar on 24 October 1936.  After Indian Independence in 1947, a number of princely states were merged into the Central Provinces and Berar, which, when the Constitution of India went into effect in 1950, became the new Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
As its name suggests, the province was situated in Centre of the Indian peninsula. It comprised large portions of the broad belt of hill and plateau, which separates the plains of the Ganges and the Deccan plateau. The Central Provinces and Berar were bounded on the north and northeast by the Central India Agency, including the Bundelkhand and Bagelkhand agencies, and along the northern edge of Sagar District by the United Provinces; on the west by the states of Bhopal, Indore, and Kandesh District of Bombay Province; on the south by Hyderabad State, and on the east by Orissa and the Eastern States Agency.
After the defeat of the Marathas in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the territories north of the Satpura Range ceded in 1817 by the Maratha Peshwa (parts of Saugor and Damoh) and in 1818 by Appa Sahib, were in 1820, formed into the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories under an agent to the governor-general. In 1835 the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories were included in the newly formed North-Western Provinces. In 1842, in consequence of a rising, they were again placed under the jurisdiction of an agent to the governor-general. They were restored to the North-Western Province in 1853.
In 1818, the Maratha Bhonsle Maharajas of Nagpur submitted to British sovereignty. In 1853, on the death of Raghoji III without heirs, Nagpur was annexed by the British under the doctrine of lapse. Until the formation of the Central Provinces in 1861, Nagpur Province, which consisted of the Nagpur Division, Chhindwara and Chhattisgarh, was administered by a commissioner under the central government.
The Saugor and Nerbudda Territories were joined with the Nagpur province to constitute the new Central Provinces in 1861. On 1 October 1903 Berar also was placed under the administration of the commissioner of the Central Provinces. In October 1905 most of Sambalpur and the princely states of Bamra, Rairakhol, Sonpur, Patna and Kalahandi were transferred from the Central Provinces and Berar to Bengal, while the Hindi-speaking Chota Nagpur States of Chang Bhakar, Koriya, Surguja, Udaipur and Jashpur were transferred from Bengal to the Central Provinces and Berar.
In 1935 the Government of India Act was passed by the British Parliament. This act provided for the election of a provincial assembly, with an electorate made up of men with a minimum of financial resources, and excluding women and the poor. Extraordinary powers were reserved for governor. The princely states were removed from the authority of the provinces, and placed under the authority of a number of new agencies, responsible directly to the Governor-General of India. Elections were held in 1937, and the Indian National Congress took a majority of the seats. N. B. Khare became the first prime minister of the Central Provinces in August 1937. Khare resigned in 1938, and Ravi Shankar Shukla became prime minister. In 1939, along with Congress leaders from other provinces, Shukla resigned in protest of the Governor-General's declaration of war on Germany without consulting with Indian leaders, and the provincial Governor took over administration of the province. Another round of elections were held in 1946, yielding another Congress majority, and Shukla again became premier.
India became independent on August 15, 1947, and the Central Provinces and Berar became a province of the new country. The princely states which were part of the Central Provinces before 1936 were merged back into the province, and organized into new districts. When the Constitution of India went into effect in 1950, the Central Provinces and Berar became the new state of Madhya Pradesh.
The Central provinces and Berar was made up of 22 districts, grouped into five divisions:
- Jubbulpore (Jabalpur) Division (18,950 sq. mi.) which included Jubbulpore, Saugor (Sagar), Damoh, Seoni and Mandla districts.
- Nerbudda (Narmada) Division (18,382 sq. mi.), which included Narsinghpur, Hoshangabad, Nimar, Betul and Chhindwara districts.
- Nagpur Division (23,521 sq. mi.), which included Nagpur, Bhandara, Chanda, Wardha, and Balaghat districts.
- Chhattisgarh Division (21,240 sq. mi.), which included Bilaspur, Raipur, and Durg (created 1905) districts.
- Berar Division, which included Amraoti (Amravati), Akola, Ellichpur, Buldhana, Basim and Wun districts.
The 1941 Census of India counted 16,813,584 persons in the province, of which 2,093,767 were urban and 14,719,817 were rural.
After Indian independence
After Indian Independence in 1947, the Central Provinces and Berar became part of India, and was merged with the princely states under its authority to become the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh in 1950. In 1956, the Marathi-speaking areas of Madhya Pradesh, which comprised the Berar and Nagpur divisions, became part of Bombay state. In 1960, the Bombay state was reorganised, with the Marathi-speaking areas forming Maharashtra, and the Gujarati-speaking areas becoming Gujarat. In 2000, the eastern portion of Madhya Pradesh split off to become the new state of Chhattisgarh.
- Olson, James S. and Robert Shadle, eds. Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, Vol. 1. Greenwood Publishing Group, UK 1996. P. 227.
- Census of India 1941, accessed 12 November 2013 
- Markovits, Claude (ed.) (2004). A History of Modern India: 1480-1950. Anthem Press, London.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press