13 Jan 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Analyze the roots and manifestations of regionalism in India. Is regionalism always a threat to unity and integrity of the country?

ANSWER

Regionalism refers to excessive attachment or political affinities for a particular region as against the entire country.

The roots of regionalism can be understood as under:

  1. Historical: Grievances and old demands fuel regionalism in certain areas. E.g., the issue of illegal migration in Assam.
  2. Cultural: Regionalism is borne out of distinct and strong cultural identity which is often coterminous with linguistic identity. E.g., the Dravidian movement.
  3. Religious: The driver of regionalism in certain cases is communalism such as demand for Khalistan, secessionism in Kashmir etc.
  4. Political: Political parties exploit regional sentiments to fulfil their own vested interest and garner votes through polarisation and pandering to base emotions and mass sentiment. E.g., son-of-the-soil movement in Maharashtra.
  5. Economic: Uneven development with regional disparities creates a feeling of relative deprivation which fuels regionalism. E.g., creation of Telangana, demand for Mithila state in Bihar etc.

Regionalism has following negative manifestations in India:

  1. Internal security challenge: Law-and-order issues are created that can threaten national unity and integrity. E.g., insurgency in the northeast.
  2. Constitutional Challenge: Pandering to regional sentiment for vote bank politics weakens national fraternity and creates disharmony. It’s a violation of the constitutional vision and the fundamental duties.
  3. Economic Challenge: Regionalism-based demands pose economic challenges through advocacy for reservation for locals in private industry and opposition to migrant labour.
  4. Diplomatic challenge: Regionalism can have impact on international ties, such as in relation with Bangladesh over the issue of illegal migrants in Assam and protest of Bengal government on Teesta river water sharing.

Despite its obvious negative implications, regionalism is not always a threat to unity and integrity.

Some of its positive implications are as under:

  1. It plays an important role in nation-building and national integration once it gets accommodated within the federal framework. E.g., linguistic reorganisation of states.
  2. It helps in accommodation of regional demands at national level and can be a vent for regional unrest and genuine grievances. E.g., Uttarakhand movement.
  3. Regionalism based on cultural pride deepens national identity by enrooting it in sociocultural fabric. E.g., the Telugu movie RRR which celebrates the struggle for independence from colonial rule.
  4. Regionalism strengthens federalism, and improves administrative efficiency through healthy competition among states in the spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism. E.g., ease of doing business rankings for states etc.

Governments have tried to integrate regional demands with national interest through creation of National Integration Council, GST Council, Inter-state council and schemes like Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. As said by former Prime Minister Shree Manmohan Singh, local identities must become part of our diverse mosaic in a harmonious way rather than the cause for divisiveness and exclusion.

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