REGIONALISM PART-1

INTRODUCTION

  • Regionalism is the expression of a common sense of identity and purpose by people within a specific geographical region, united by its unique language, culture, language, etc.
  • Regional consciousness is based on linguistic, religious, ethnic and cultural identity of the people residing m a specific geographical’ area. The ideology of regionalism is devised by the elite belonging to these groups. In a culturally heterogeneous society the factors like language and religion which demarcate the differences between the people always exist, though mostly in a dormant form. When these factors like language , religion etc began to be articulated wide open and their consciousness leads to special demands on the basis of identity , it leads to regionalism .
  • In a positive sense, it encourages people to develop a sense of brotherhood and oneness which seeks to protect the interests of a particular region and promotes the welfare and development of the state and its people.
  • In the negative sense, it implies excessive attachment to one’s region which is a great threat to the unity and integrity of the country.
  • In the Indian context generally, the term ‘regionalism’ has been used in the negative sense.

Regionalism has certain-objectives also, namely

  • Revival of regional cultures and rebuilding of such sub-cultural regions having distinct identities within a nation;
  • Administrative and political devolution
  • Devising principles to solve Centre-State confrontation and confrontation between two or more sub cultural regions;
  • To maintain economic and political equilibrium between the Centre and the States nation and sub cultural regions.

Regionalism may or may not be contradicting with the national identity . This gives rise to two situations :

  • When regionalism exists peacefully in nation and poses no threat to nation
  • When regionalism starts posing threat to national integrity

FACTORS BEHIND REGIONALISM

Regionalism is a multidimensional phenomenon. Its bases are varied. Here we will discuss the geographical, historical, cultural, economic and politico-administrative bases of regionalism.

  1. Geographical Basis:
  • Usually people relate their regional identity to certain specific geographical boundaries.
  • After independence integration of Princely States resulted in the merger of small states into new big The loyalties of citizens were torn between old territorial boundaries and new territorial structures. As pointed out earlier this was the major factor responsible for the success of princes in elections particularly when they contested from their former territories in the newly created states.
  • However, it would be wrong to over-estimate the importance of geographical It is true that  memories of old geographical boundaries of princely states still haunt the people and are exploited by political leaders but it can hardly be denied that they are yielding place to new and bigger territorial identities like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
  1. History:
  • It supported regionalism with cultural heritage, folklore, myths and symbolism.
  • The most striking example is that of DravidaKazhagam(DK) and the DravidaMunnetraKazhagam(DMK) in Tamil Nadu and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Telugu Desham(TDP) in Andhra Pradesh.
  • But history cannot be considered as the most important basis of regionalism. Economic and political factors have combined with history to generate regionalism. This can again be seen in the change in the stand of DMK from secession to one of autonomy within the federal framework of the Constitution.
  1. Language:
  • Language is perhaps the most important mark of group Language expresses the shared life, thought structure and value patterns of people. It has the capacity to unite the people together and make them work to improve their common destiny. In this sense linguistic homogeneity strengthens a positive movement.
  • As early as 1920, Congress had accepted the principle that language must be adopted as criterion for demarcating the territorial boundaries of provincial units. Establishment of State Reorganization Commission (SRC) in 1955 was the result of demand for formation of regional units based on linguistic regionalism. SRC could not completely follow the principle of one language one This could not be treated as the sole criteria for the demarcation of state boundaries. Bilingual states like Bombay, Punjab, etc. were created. However, splitting up of Bombay in 1960, Punjab in 1966, and Assam since mid-sixties into linguistically more homogeneous states gave further impetus to linguistic regionalism in Indian politics.
  • If language had been synonymous with region, the political aspiration of every linguistic group would have been satisfied by the formation of separate states. This, however, is neither a reality nor a foreseeable possibility.
    • The first reason being that languages spoken in India run into Even if major languages are taken into account, large groups of linguistic minorities are bound to be left inside the state whose language cannot be enshrined in the constitution as an official language.
    • Secondly, Hindi speaking people are distributed over a very large Their number is over 300 million at the beginning of twenty first century. One state cannot be created for them. They have been divided into six states namely, U.P, Bihar, M.P., Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and a couple of Union territories. There has rarely been a demand for the formation of single state of Hindi speaking people
    • On the contrary there have been demands for separate states comprising languages or dialects within this wider linguistic This can be found in the occasional demand for a Maithili or for recognition of Rajasthani, Haryanvi, etc. as scheduled languages in the Constitution.
  • Thus regionalism is closely associated with language but is not synonymous with linguism. Regionalism can take place inside a linguistic state (for example creation of Marathi speaking Maharashtra).
  • The seven states of North East India refer  to themselves as seven They have tried to form common bonds on the basis of  their problems of development. They have also tried to develop a regional identity. These seven states include Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. In other words, language is not the sole generator of regionalism. It is one of the several bases of regionalism in India. In most cases of linguistic regionalism many interrelated factors are usually found to be working together.
  1. Caste: An important example of the caste factor providing impetus to linguistic regionalism can be seen in the case of Tamil Tamil regionalism gained ground as a result of non-Brahmin movement. Non-Brahmin castes of Tamil speaking region had been able to provide a powerful united thrust against Brahmins who had earlierenjoyed unquestioned dominance in economy, society and polity.
  2. Religion:
  • Religion like caste does not play a significant role except when it is combined with dominance and linguistic homogeneity as in Punjab or fed on a sense of religious orthodoxy and economic deprivation as in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • If casteism reinforced and propelled linguistic regionalism in cases of Tamil Nadu, the demand for the formation of Punjabi Suba though presented in linguistic garb had religious They were mainly responsible for evoking people’spolitical loyalties on massive scale rather than their love for their mother tongue. It is difficult to qualify the mix of communalism and linguism in this particular case. But some studies make it very clear that demand for Punjabi language state was certainly reinforced by regular invocation of Punjabi speaking masses’ loyalty towards Sikh religion.
  • Taking into account these three factors e. language, caste and religion one can say that the study of regionalism in Punjab and Tamil Nadu makes it very clear that political movements for regional demands were carried out formally in the name of language but in reality they had substantive non-linguistic bases too.
  1. Economic Basis:
  • Economic factor is the crux of regional politics. India is a developing The resources are limited while the demand for resources for the development of various regions is unlimited or disproportionate to resources.
  • Economic policies have led to regional imbalances and wide economic disparities among various regions resulting in discontentment among It may be recalled that most of the demands for new states were primarily based on allegedly unfair and unequal distribution of development benefits and expenditure in multi-lingual states.
  • The erstwhile movements for a separate Uttarkhand state in the hill districts of P., a Jharkhand state carved out of parts of Bihar and the demand for a state of Bodoland comprising a part of Assam may be counted as examples of this type. The demand for separate states in these instances are mainly on the belief that these regions have been economically deprived by their respective states.
  • Economic factors have usually assumed prime importance in regional politics.
  1. Politico-Administrative Basis:
  • The politico-administrative basis of regionalism is also important but politics as such does not create It only accentuates regionalism.
  • Politicians take advantage of the situation of regional discontentment and They convert it into movements for strengthening their individual and factional  supportbases.  It is a known fact that fighting within Congress gave rise to Telangana agitation. Regional political parties like TDP (Andhra Pradesh), DMK (Tamil Nadu), Akali Dal (Punjab) have been surviving because of regional sentiments.
  • Border dispute, like the one between Maharashtra and Karnataka, is also based on regional sentiments. Other important facts of politics of regionalism are the real or assumed charges of political discrimination among various regions by the central ruling elite.

HISTORY OF REGIONALISM IN INDIA

  • The roots of regional consciousness in India can be found in the colonial policies.
  • Differential attitudes and treatment by the British towards princely states and those of the presidencies developed regionalist tendencies among them.
  • British exploitative economic policies completely neglected some regions, giving way to economic disparities and regional imbalances.
  • On the other side, the Indian national movement furthered a pluralistic idea of India.
  • The history of regional movements in India can be traced back to the 1940s Dravida Movement or the Non-Brahmin movement that started in the present day Tamil Nadu.
  • Later, the movement was resulted into the demand of a separate and independent Tamil state.
  • This, in turn, led to several other parties like the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) springing up in the Andhra region, with the demands of separate statehood.
  • The decades of 1950s and 1960s witnessed intense mass mobilisation, often taking on a violent character for the demands of statehood.
  • In 1954, the revolt for the separate state of Andhra for Telugu – speaking people spearheaded by Potti Sri Ramulu and his eventual death triggered the wave of political regionalism in India with many princely states and other states making a demand for a separate state.
  • This resulted in formation of the States Reorganisation Committee (headed by Faisal Ali) which recommended re-organisation of Indian states on linguistic lines, thus reinforcing the regionalist tendencies.
  • With the enactment of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, linguistic states became a reality.
  • During 1970s and 1980s, owing to the intensification of tribal insurgency for separation and statehood, the Union government passed the North-eastern States Reorganisation Act, 1971.
  • It upgraded the Union Territories of Manipur and Tripura, and the Sub-State of Meghalaya to full statehood, and Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh (then Tribal Districts) to Union Territories which became states in 1986.
  • The decade of 2000s, witnessed vigorous movements for the creation of separate states due to a rising sense of regional deprivation.
  • It resulted in the formation of the three new states – Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand out of Bihar and Uttarakhand out of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The latest addition to this is the state of Telangana created by the division of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
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