- Intro – define regionalism.
- Discuss the various factors that engender regionalism and the role played by sense of regional deprivations in exacerbating the phenomenon.
As an ideology and political movement regionalism seeks to advance the causes of regions. It involves a process in which sub-state actors become increasingly powerful. Within India, regionalism has been based on the diversity of culture, language, tribes, religions and other socio-cultural factors as seen below:
- Language: Language, which forms a core tenet of identity, has led to feelings of regionalism as seen in various parts of India. A nefarious manifestation of this has been the sons of soil doctrine which argues that particular state belongs to majority linguistic group inhabiting it or constitutes an exclusive “homeland” for regional language speakers. Politically, regional aspirations have been sought to be assuaged by the creation of linguistic states such as Maharashtra and Gujrat.
- Tribal Identity: The regional aspirations of North-east were mainly based on the distinction of tribal identity. These aspirations became more focal and prominent in the 1980’s. The whole North-East region has witnessed altogether different political reorganization aimed at preservation of the distinct identities and meeting regional aspirations.
- Economic inequality and Regional deprivation: Increasingly along with geographical concentration of diversity, regional deprivations, perceived and real, have provided a bulwark to the development of regionalism in India. For Instance, the partition of India turned the North-East region into a land locked region and affected it economically. Due to this isolation from the mainstream India, the region remained backward in terms of developmental parameters. Hence, from the beginning, the national government felt a responsibility to counter the imbalance in regional development. Recently the creation of Telangana after a long struggle underscores the significance of regional deprivation all the more.
- Combination of multiple factors: in the creation of three new states in 2000, namely Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand language did not play a prominent role. Rather, a combination of ethnicity based on tribal identity, language, regional deprivation and ecology provided the basis for intense regionalism resulting in statehood.
Being a vast and diverse country India has seen multiple challenges emanating from regionalism based on multiple factors. However, the spirit of unity in diversity and constitutional mechanisms of democracy and federalism has enabled it to ward of these challenges from becoming destabilizing.