How to Meet the Challenge of Regionalism to National Integration ?



The following remedies can be considered for meeting the challenge of Ragionalism to National Integration:

1. Secessionism in every form needs to be checked by forceful implementation of the law and well designed socialisation process:

The demands for secession can never be regarded as a part of regionalism. These reflect anti- nationalism. Such demands must be controlled both through an effective use of law and order machinery as well as by a strong governmental policy. Well designed socialisation the masses should be encouraged as can enable them to participate fully in the national mainstream.

2. End of Policy of Appeasement:

The policy of appeasement of the minorities by political parties for securing electoral gains always encourages negative regionalism. The political parties must desist from doing it. They should realise the need to ignore short term gains in favour of long term national interests.

3. Development of Cooperative Federalism:

Most of the regional parties operating at the state level act as agencies of regionalism. Local parties are organised primarily for satisfying the regional needs and these reflect regional ambitions and aspirations. These have a constitutional right and freedom to operate.

No one can or should object to their working. Yet efforts should be made to bring home to them the virtue of cooperative federalism. The party in power at the centre must not follow the policy of overthrowing a state government organised by a regional party. Such an action always intensifies negative/militant regionalism.

4. Development of a National Language:

Linguistic reorganisation of the states has been a mistake. It has strengthened parochial bigotism in the form of linguistic regionalism. However, now, we cannot put the hands of the clock back. Such a move, though desirable cannot be operationalised as it is bound to produce a big reaction. Nevertheless, by developing a common national language and through reforms in the educational system, this form of regionalism can be checked from acting as anti-national programme. People of India should be encouraged to study several modern Indian languages.

5. Rapid Economic Development:

Socio-economic backwardness, which is behind the wide-spread poverty and unemployment among the masses, is a major factor of regionalism. Regional imbalances created by faulty planning and half-hearted implementation of plan objectives have added fuel to the fire of regionalism, the solution lies in proper and effective harnessing of national resources, rural development, rapid industrial and technological advancement and development.

6. Development of a voluntary code of conduct by the Press:

The regional press has encouraged regionalism just as regionalism has popularized the regional press. The vernacular press has the ability to represent and articulate regional forces as against the national objectives and national goals. It should not be taken to mean even remotely that vernacular press is anti-national or has behaved only as a regional mouth piece. But, it cannot be denied that it has, mostly, failed to reflect a balance between the regional aspirations and national goals.

7. Strengthening of Democratic Institutions:

Growing weakness of democratic institutions and practices has definitely been a factor of regionalism, particular the central interferences in the working of state governments have strengthened the forces of regionalism.

Misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution centralistic role of the Governors, engineered political defections, unprincipled dissolution of state legislatures, discriminatory attitude in giving grants-in-aid to the states ruled by parties other than the one in power in centre, transferring of State subjects to the Concurrent List, establishment of heavy industries in different regions under pressure or for appeasement of regional forces etc., have all combined to give to negative regionalism in the form of centre-state conflicts and controversies.

The need is for fair dealing with all the states. Implementation of the Sarkaria Commission recommendations and devolution of more financial resources to the states can be meaningful steps towards the limiting of the negative and harmful dimensions of regionalism.

8. Protection of the Interests of the Tribals and Development of Tribal Belts:

The acquisition of lands, particularly the one inhabited by the tribals, should be preceded by taking them into confidence and followed by immediate steps for the rehabilitation and compensation. The process of modernisation and development through the construction of dams, river valley projects, multipurpose projects, defer establishments and industrial establishments should be undertaken with care without offending the local peoples, and with due concern for their interests.

9. Prevention of Regionalisation of Indian History:

Regionalisation of history, education and culture has been a source of regionalism. It must be stopped The committee on Emotional Integration of the country noted that there have been factual inaccuracies, and greater emphasis on local heroes than on national heroes in the textbooks prescribed by various states of the Union.

The practice of projecting heroes of national movement as Punjabis or Bengalese should be stopped. All of them, without exception worked for the national liberation and not for securing the interests of their regions. They worked as sons of the soil, i.e., sons of mother India and not sons of the soil as interpreted under the influence of regionalism.

10. Securing of Socio-Economic Justice:

The factor of socio-economic injustice has been behind regionalism in the states of Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, U.P. North-eastern states. This factor has been behind the demands for Bodoland Gorkhaland and others steps should be taken towards the elimination of socio-economic injustice against the tribals, the scheduled tribes, the scheduled castes and the hilly tribes.

11. Disciplined Role of National Level Political Parties:

Almost all the national political parties have been guilty of using the regional, sub-regional, communal and parochial organisations for their electoral gains. It must be stopped by them voluntarily since it strengthens regionalism and adds to the problems that these parties inherit at the national level.

12. Bridging of Regional Imbalances:

Inter-state disparities in income have been a hard fact of over development. The sad fact is that these disparities have been widening. A study of incomes of various states reveals that there has been a widening of inter-state disparities in per capita incomes. Regional imbalances should be corrected through special remedies and development plans. We must ensure equal funds and national programmes for development of the people of India irrespective of their 'states'.

13. Centre should never try to act as a big brother of States:

The Centre must not act as a big brother. It should abandon unhealthy paternalism in Indian federalism. It must not misuse the Unitarian features of the constitution for interfering with the rights and powers of the states of the Indian Union. It should refrain from building up centralism in the name of national unity.

Since regionalism has been a creation of all, all organisation and groups must unite to prevent its negative harmful and anti-national dimensions. The growing involvement of regional political parties in the power sharing at the Centre should be used as an opportunity for strengthening the process of development of a healthy and positive relationship between nationalism and regionalism. Coalition politics should be used for developing a system of mature and harmonious relations between the national and regional political parties.