The political and conceptual concept of creating regions is referred to as regionalism. It usually has a formal program attached to it, and since the middle of the 1980s, these regional programs have exploded on a global scale.

Regionalism is a practice that promotes the power or influence of a specific area or region. It might be viewed as a political, cultural, or purely emotional experience. People who are enthusiastic about where they live or political leaders who seek to gain popularity through these endeavours exhibit this emotion or ideology. In addition to expressing one's love for a place, regionalism can also be seen in literature, art, and historical artefacts. The ideology of regionalism is supported by one's close ties to one's language, thoughts, and culture.

Regionalism in India

There is an innate sense of pan-Indian identity, but many foreign sociologists and scholars have observed the fixation on caste, tribe, language, and community. One argument against regionalism is that it has deepened federalism in India by fostering multi-party politics. There are functional and dysfunctional aspects of regionalism to consider, even though it is not always "anti-nation" or even "anti-people."

We can go back to the colonial policies of "divide and rule" that sowed the seed in India. There have been numerous regional movements in India over the past century, with demands falling broadly into the following categories:

  • An extreme form of fundamentalist and militant groups calling for the creation of a new nation separate from India
  • Separatist Demands: The establishment of a new state that can better support the region's linguistic and ethnic minorities. 
  • Full Statehood - Several Indian Union Territories have attained full statehood.
  • Autonomy: the struggle between the need for more power and centralized government political meddling.

Regionalism's root causes

  • Geographical Features: The geography of India is diverse. All over the nation, there are various types of climates. The regional customs, eating customs, and way of life are impacted by this change in geography. 
  • Linguistic Factors: India's multilingual population is a benefit, but it can also make people feel more connected to a specific region than the entire country, promoting regionalism. 
  • Hindi's designation as the national language and the rise of regionalism affected non-Hindi speakers.
  • Historical Factors: India has battled many forms of authority. Sometimes, like when Akbar was in charge, the control of regions was exercised jointly.
  • As colonization spread throughout India, regionalism grew due to the British policy of divide and rule.
  • Regionalism has been fueled by the prejudice or neglect experienced by regions like the North East.
  • By promoting regionalism, regional leaders try to win over voters.
  • Regions that experience discrimination are beginning to identify more with a region than a country.

Regionalism's various forms: 

Regionalism in India has many manifestations, such as: 

  • Demand for State Autonomy: Due to regionalism, states have frequently demanded more independence from the central government. As the Center becomes more involved in the affairs of the states, regional tensions have been observed. Areas inside different Indian states have also expressed a desire for autonomy or self-reliance.
  • Breaking away from the Union: This is a particularly risky form of regionalism. It manifests when states seek their independence from the federal government and try to forge an independent identity.
  • Regionalism has also been sparked by disagreements between states over the distribution of river water and the weight each state places on its language and its residents when it comes to employment opportunities.
  • As evidenced by the issues in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the migration of individuals from a developing state to a developed state for employment opportunities frequently results in a discriminatory attitude toward the migrants. 

Indian Regionalalism's Growth 

  • Regionalism is a long-standing phenomenon in India's political system. Before India gained independence, the British used it.
  • In order to maintain control over India during the national movement, the British encouraged people in various regions to view their region as the only important one rather than the entire country.
  • The leaders have tried various methods to foster a sense of unity among the populace after independence. This was the goal of the Constitution's founding fathers, who established universal citizenship. 
  • All Indian services, a strong central government, and a unified court were provided with the same intent.  
  • However, the nation's diversity and its cultures led to the rapid emergence of regionalism in India. 
  • The idea of reorganizing states according to their linguistic composition marked the beginning of regionalism, but the DMK's victory in Tamil Nadu in the 1960s significantly contributed to it. 
  • The central leadership initially perceived regionalism as a minor political phenomenon that only existed in Tamil Nadu and did not, therefore, threaten the country's integrity.
  • In Punjab, the Akali movement took off quickly, and in Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah revived the National Conference.
  • All Indian political parties continued collaborating with these local organizations during these formative years to incorporate them into their respective organizations. 
  • The rise of regionalism in India was facilitated by the Indian National Congress, which exercised a monopoly of power from 1947 to 1967 and pursued a strategy of negotiating and displacing regional forces. 
  • Local Congress leaders tightened their control over local party organizations to increase their influence and support the growth of regionalism. 
  • National and local leadership formed strong bonds with one another. The close ties between the central and regional governments aided the development of regionalism. 

Regionalism's effects on Indian politics

  • Positive Impacts:
    • The rise of regional parties is a consequence of effective regionalism, which is advantageous for democracy. 
      • A region's residents are more likely to support a candidate from there or a party that is only allowed to operate there, preventing monopolizing one particular political party.
      • Additionally, the son of the soil is more likely to identify the indigenous people and deal with their issues as his own.
    • Policymakers frequently concentrate on the regional problems at the root of regionalism. It aids in resolving problems that are too complex for a single governmental entity to handle alone.
      • A wider regional perspective enables more effective planning - improved transit connections, more effective infrastructure, and enhanced delivery of products and services.
    • Positive regionalism encourages a sense of pride in being related and rooted in one's culture.
      • Regional movements have often helped the art and culture of many underserved regions thrive by increasing their exposure through local emphasis.
  • Negative Impacts:
    • Regional uprisings frequently lead to violent uprisings, which undermines the law and order situation and may negatively affect the economy of the state and the nation.
      • Regionalism is capable of serving as a cover for militant extremism to pose a threat to national security. 
    • Regionalism can undermine national interest by acting as an impediment on a global scale.
      • The West Bengal political leadership's disagreement with the central government over the Land Boundary Agreement and the Teesta River Water Sharing Treaty with Bangladesh heightened tensions between the two countries.
    • The nation's sovereignty is in danger from narrow regionalism. Beyond a certain point, regionalism can lead to secessionism, as in Punjab, where intense regionalism ultimately fueled the rise of Khalistani terrorism.
    • Regionalist impulses frequently trigger inter-state animosity because of their effect.
      • There are instances in which anti-migrant sentiments exist in more job-opportune states such as Maharashtra.
      • People from other countries who work or live within the state frequently disagree with the regional leaders Within the state.
    • Regionalism frequently encourages vote-bank politics, which undermines national integration.
      • Regionalism jeopardizes the age-old 'Unity in Diversity' framework when promoted in an ultra-manner.

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