This article deals with topic titled ‘Regionalism’.
Note : Note : This is part of our series on Society for UPSC examination. For more articles , click here.
What is Regionalism?
The phenomenon in which people’s political loyalties become more focused on particular region in preference to the nation or other parts of the state of which that region is sub-part is called regionalism
In Indian context, regionalism is rooted in India’s diversity vis-a-vis caste , religion , language , ethnicity etc. When all these factors get geographically concentrated along with the feeling of relative deprivation, it results into Regionalism.
Is Regionalism a threat to National Integration?
The politics of regionalism has two connotations
Positive : This type of Regionalism is not threat to National Integration
Desire for preserving identity based on language, culture, ethnicity
To protect socio-economic interest
For administrative convenience .
Negative : Any demand of regionalism which acts as a threat to nation building efforts is referred as negative form of regionalism . Like Son of Soil policy & demand of secession.
Second form can be seen as threat while first form is not threat per se.
Characteristics of regionalism
Regionalism is conditioned by economic, social, political and cultural disparities.
Regionalism at times is a psychic phenomenon.
Regionalism is built around as an expression of group identity as well as loyalty to the region.
Regionalism supposes the concept of development of one’s own region without taking into consideration the interest of other regions.
Regionalism prohibits people from other regions to be benefited by a particular region.
Types of Regionalism
Demand for Separation : Demand to secede from Indian union and become a sovereign state. Eg : Khalistan , Azad Kashmir , Naga etc
Supra-state regionalism: Group of states are involved. They share common issues & build common identities . Eg Northeastern states for economic development and rivalry between North and South Indian States on language
Inter-state regionalism:Between States . It is issue-specific. Eg : Disputes between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over Kaveri
Intra-state regionalism:Due to lack of equitable sharing of benefits within state. Eg: Coastal region vs western region in Odisha, Jaipur (Amer) vs Jodhpur (Marwar) in Rajasthan
Causes of regionalism in India
Linguistic Reorganisation of States
States divided linguistically => generate sub-national identity
Historical and cultural factors:
History has divided India into two parts – “Aryans” and “Dravidians”.
Different regions have their own local heroes &’people tend to mobilise around them .Eg Shivaji in Maharashtra or Periyer in TN etc
After integration of princely states , people were still loyal to their old territorial units
Economic underdevelopment :Uneven development generates regionalism and separatism. It can manifest in form of demand for Special Category Status or separate state or secession . Eg Bodoland, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhatisgarh, Telangana, and so on.
Used by some region based parties. Eg : Shiv Sena => protect Maratha interests
Undue Interference in the affairs of state by central government gives birth to regionalism.
Economic Development – Sometimes development of particular community raises regional aspirations of the community . Eg : After GR, Sikh Jatts of Punjab became economically prosperous and they started to demand separate Punjab from other Hindi speaking regions
Disintegration of Congress Party : After Nehru, central leaders started to impose their mandate on regional leaders. As a result, local leaders moved away to form parties like NCP in MH , Trinamool Congress in WB. They encouraged regionalism
Son of the Soil Movement
“Son of the soil” doctrine argues that state specifically belongs to the main linguistic group inhabiting it , who are the sons of the soil or local residents.
Aka Politics of Nativism.
Why son of the soil?
Rising aspirations of the local middle class
Economy’s failure not to create enough employment opportunity. There remains a competition for jobs
Politicians with vested interests try to consolidate their voting base using this. Eg Shiv Sena in Maharashtra
Note : In some areas like Punjab , Haryana , Delhi etc , son of soil theory is not there but in Maharashtra , Karnataka etc it is present.
Not Present in Punjab, West Bengal, Delhi etc
Son of Soil theory is for Middle class jobs and not for menial jobs
It is not issue of political parties . Eg : Akali Dal is jatt dominated party + Communist Party refused to use anti-migrant sentiments in Calcutta because of its ideological commitment
Symbiotic Relationship : Punjabis and Haryanvis want cheap agricultural labour
In Delhi, culture is purely cosmopolitan
There in Maharashtra
Political parties like Shiv Sena, MNS use this as political tool
Competition between migrants and nativists is for middle class jobs
If national party is weak, the native political parties become more assertive
Impact of Regionalism in India
Most important basis for the formation of identity was language. Hence, it has kept communalism and formation of political identity based on religion in check
Regionalism has helped in promoting democracy in India. Regional parties like Shiv Sena, DMK etc fight to capture power via democracy
Agitate to preserve their culture => helped in preserving the diversity of nation
Regionalism at times transforms into secessionism
Son of Soil Policy impacts Fundamental rights of Citizens like right to life or right to carry out any profession
It can cause great damage to private and public property.
Creates sub national feelings in the people . Naga Nationalism or Punjabi Nationalism vs Indian nationalism
Regionalism, also becomes hurdle in the international diplomacy, . Eg : Tamil Parties impact diplomacy with Srilanka & Trinamool Congress with Bangladesh (like in Teesta Water dispute)
Ways to Combat
Making India truly federal in word and spirit
Doing away with regional imbalances
Not imposing single culture on whole nation . Eg imposing Hindi in whole nation will face backlashes from Non-Hindi speaking states .
Three language formula as suggested by Sarkaria Commission to be strictly implemented
People to People contact + making people aware of other cultures using TV & Radio + Ending the prejudices of Cow Belt against North Easterners & South Indians
Federalism to Combat Regionalism/ Why India didn’t face Regionalism to the extent other multi-lingual/diverse countries face
Other countries with ethnic and linguistic diversities are facing many problems like secessionist movements => they werent able to accommodate regional aspirations
Nepal is facing Madhesi Agitation
Pakistan facing Baluchi & Sindhi movements
Sri Lanka experienced Tamil civil war
Eriteria seceded from Ethiopia
Yugoslavia broke due to various sub nationalisms at play
But India inspite of such a huge diversity of cultures is still united . Reason = Federalism and devolution of power which gives sense of meeting regional aspirations by various groups.
Indian federalism provides democratic ways to meet local aspirations of people
Sovereignty is constitutionally shared. States enjoy significant power . People feel that they are governed by their own people . Cooperative and Competitive Federalism is the new watchword in India.
73rd and 74th Amendment
Regions under 5th and 6th Schedule enjoys certain autonomy
Art 370 & 371 has special provisions helpful in addressing concerns of some states.
Other factors why India hasn’t faced Regionalism
Linguistic reorganization of states
Unlike our neighbours, India recognized early that language is the reason behind regionalism & opted for linguistic reorganization of the states in 1956.And by 1966 all major language speakers have states of their own. This led to regionalism problem getting subdued in India.
Economically most backward regions are politically most powerful.
India has a peculiar situation unlike other countries => UP is one of the most backward state in India but they decide who will make Government at Union => cant complain of Political Apathy & Discrimination
Out of 14 Prime Minister, 9 are from UP.
Economic interdependence between different regions
Wave of globalization => India is becoming homogenous => Regionalism subsumed by Globalisation