While Regionalism is a major problem in Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and almost all of India’s neighbours, India has been able to maintain relative peace regarding regional violence, except Kashmir. Discuss. (250 Words/ 15 Marks)

Mentor’s Note:

In the intro, define regionalism. The importance should be given to the regionalism at national level.

Then mention some of the incidents of regionalism happening in India and the reason behind it. (Regionalism in India is more of a political regionalism rather than a secessionist movement)

Briefly discuss the challenges of regionalism in India’s neighbours (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, China etc) and then focus your answer on the main point of the question: India has been able to maintain relative peace regarding regional violence. Give points regarding why India accepted regionalism as its political organ and constructively united India into an unit.

Before concluding your answer, mention few points to check the growth of regionalism. Then end the answer how India’s idea of putting nation first over regional identity has achieved success against Regionalism and how this can be an example for the rest of the world.

Model Answer:

Regionalism is an ideology and political movement that seeks to advance the causes of regions. As a process it plays role within the nation as well as outside the nation i.e. at international level. Regionalism at national level refers to a process in which sub-state actors become increasingly powerful. These are the regions within country, distinguished in culture, language and other socio-cultural factors. They can either exert pressure through violent means or using political tools. Regionalism doesn’t means defending the federal features of the constitution.

Why does regionalism evolved in India and what are the causes for it?

  • roots of regionalism is in India’s manifold diversity of languages, cultures, ethnic groups, communities, religions and so on.
  • when the national government tried to impose a particular ideology may be language or culture pattern over a particular state.
  • continuous neglect of an area
  • low rate of economic growth, investment infrastructure and social expenditure by the state on health, education etc in certain states and regions
  • the sons of the soil doctrine which after 1950 in competition between local youth and migrants for employment has led to the development of regionalism.
  • dispute between the states over the sharing of river water
  • primacy given by the states to the language of the majority and the people of their own state in a job opportunity with growing awareness among the people of backward areas

India’s neighbours are facing the threats of regionalism. In Nepal, Madhesis from Terrai region are waging a political battle against Hill districts with incidents of violence; in Pakistan, the Balochistan insurgency along with FATA militancy, are creating challenging situations for the central government; Sri Lanka has the long drawn history of civil war between its Tamil North and Sinhalese dominated Southern parts. Bangladesh was born out of a civil war after repeated negligence of Pakistan of its eastern side and not honouring the political mandate of East Pakistan. India also had its share of problems created by regionalism, but except that in J&K and Nagaland, it has been more of a political problem rather than a violent one.

Why Regionalism is not a violent threat in India:

  • Regionalism in India is only a short-cut to meet the political ambitions by emotionally exploiting the sentiments of the people.
  • The fear of Balkanization is void of any logic.
  • To have pride in one’s region or state is also not regionalism.
  • A person can be conscious of his or her distinct regional identity—of being a Tamil or a Punjabi, a Bengali or a Gujarati—without being any the less proud of being an Indian, or being hostile to people from other regions.
  • This was put very well by Gandhiji in 1909: ‘As the basis of my pride as an Indian, I must have pride in myself as a Gujarati. Otherwise, we shall be left without any moorings.’
  • The Indian national movement too functioned on this understanding. From the beginning it functioned as an all-India movement and not as a federation of regional national movements.
  • It also did not counter pose the national identity to regional identities; it recognized both and did not see the two in conflict.
  • In fact, a certain inter-regional rivalry around the achievement of such positive goals would be quite healthy—and in fact we have too little of it.
  • Also, local patriotism can help people overcome divisive loyalties to caste or religious communities.
  • Today regional parties define how the governments are formed and conducted both at the Centre and the state level.
  • Indeed it is a good development as some political entities have to some extent represented those people who were neglected in the political process for a long time.
  • As long as they thrive for regional development without discriminating against outsiders, political regionalism is good for India.
  • If the interests of one region or state are asserted against the country as a whole or against another region or state in a hostile manner and a conflict is promoted on the basis of such alleged interests it can be dubbed as regionalism.
  • In this sense, there has been very little inter-regional conflict in India since 1947, the major exception being the politics of the DMK in Tamil Nadu in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  • Undoubtedly, regional economic inequality is a potent time-bomb directed against national unity and political stability.
  • So far, fortunately, it has been ‘digested’, absorbed and mitigated because it is not the result of domination and exploitation of backward states by the more advanced states or of discrimination against the former by the national government.
  • Successive Indian governments have been able to curb the violence of regionalism by bringing the actors of these violence on the table and solving their grievances through constitutional mechanism and accords.

What can be done to check the violence of regionalism?

  • balanced regional development in formulating the economic policies of the state
  • excessive interference of the central Government in the affairs of the state should be minimized unless if it is unavoidable for National interest
  • friendly relationship between the center and the states
  • problems of the people must be solved in a peaceful and constitutional manner

Conclusion:

The need of the hour is to develop a realistic perception of regionalism at the conceptual level focusing on righteousness and judicial outlook on the path of the political parties.If this objective is achieved then the regionalism of the idea of different communities speaking the diverse language and seeing human unity in diversity in practical terms too would become a distinct possibility. India is bound by a common culture that has flourished on this land many thousand years ago. I may be Kannadiga or Tamil but I am an Indian first. My identity outside India is that of an Indian. This process has helped India in curbing the ugly head of regionalism in violent form.

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