Question – It is argued that regionalism is a threat to national integrity, while others hold that it is a highly effective means of facilitating political participation. Illustrate it.

Question – It is argued that regionalism is a threat to national integrity, while others hold that it is a highly effective means of facilitating political participation. Illustrate it. – 19 August 2021

Answer

Regionalism is a political ideology that focuses on the definite interests of a particular region, group of regions, or other sub-national entity. Regionalism in India is rooted in Indian languages, cultures, tribes and religious diversity. This is reinforced by the geographic concentration of these identification marks in particular regions and is fueled by a sense of regional deprivation.

Thus, in the Indian context, some scholars are of the view that regionalism is a structure that is anti-system, anti-federal and against the fundamental interests of a fully integrated nation because:

  • This creates a feeling that one region is being neglected and treated as inferior to the rest of the country. For example, it has been observed in Northeast India, which is facing economic deprivation due to geographical isolation.
  • Militant and aggressive regionalism increases the separatist tendencies i.e. demand for a state outside the union. Live examples of this are the Khalistan movement and the Kashmir issue.
  • Regionalism can become a shield for extremism and pose a threat to the internal security of the country as insurgent groups or extremists often incite the spirit of regionalism against the established politico-administrative system in the country.
  • The rise of regional political parties often undermines the authority of the central government, especially when a coalition government is formed at the centre. For example, region-specific demands are often portrayed as national demands. Similarly, many areas hinder international diplomacy such as the Prime Minister could not attend the Commonwealth of Nations (CHOGM) meeting held in Sri Lanka in 2013 due to pressure from regional political parties in Tamil Nadu.
  • In some states, anti-migrant or anti-Bihari attitude like regionalism threatens social harmony which undermines the fundamental right of its citizens to move freely and reside throughout the territory of India.
  • Often this leads to inter-state enmity for example the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Additionally, historical evidence from the 1950s suggests that large-scale mobilizations were for regional reasons.

However, some scholars also believe that regionalism can serve as a tool for national integration, if regional demands are met. As-

  • The regional identity through the States Reorganization Act 1956, in which states were formed on the basis of language, weakened regional demands and facilitated political participation. For example, the Dravidian Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which used to be resistant, abandoned its demand for separate Tamil land and still gave the nation several successful ministers.
  • Similarly, the internal self-determination of the community, whether linguistic, tribal, religious, regional, or their combination through the inclusion of language in the Eighth Schedule, autonomous district councils, provisions of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules, etc., the loyalty of the regions to the State. increase. For example, the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC), formed in 1985, provided a democratic platform for former separatists to become the party of governance, and significantly reduced political extremism in the state.
  • Regional movements bring regional issues into the limelight and thus help in garnering nationwide support. For example, imposition of one language, Telangana issue etc.

Along with understanding the ideology of regionalism, we also need to rethink that we are Indian first followed by Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi etc. We should respect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country ignoring our personal interests.

In the present scenario, we need to understand the nature of regionalism, if the nature of regionalism is related to development and it motivates people for development, then it is appropriate. Its results should be positive and not negative. Along with regional development, we also have to keep in mind that regionalism should not be above nationalism.

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