Forms of Regionalism Found in Indian Political System


Some of the most important forms of regionalism in Indian political system are as follows:

I. Demand for Secession from the Indian Union i.e. Forces of Secessionism:

Demand for secession from India constitutes the extreme dimension of regionalism in India. Secessionist forces have been present in J & K, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura and in-fact in the whole of North-East of India. Several groups and organisations have been advocating secessionism from India on the basis d the factor of ethnicism. Nagas, Mejos Islamic fundamentalist groups in J & K, ULFA in Assam and some other such groups have been pursuing secessionism. These have been using violent means for securing their objectives.


II. Demand for Separate Statehood within the Indian Union:

The second popular brand of regionalism in India happens to be in the form of a demand for separate statehood in the Indian Union. After the 1956 reorganization of states of India, there continues to be demands for separate statehood in various parts of the country. The rise in the number of states of the Indian Union from 16 in 1956 to 2a in 1989 to 28 in 2000 tends to prove the correctness of this statement.

In 1960, the bilingual State of Bombay was bifurcated into Maharashtra and Gujarat. In 1963, the State of Nagaland was carved out of Assam. In 1966, Punjab was reorganized into Punjabi Speaking Punjab, Hindi Speaking Haryana, and Hilly areas into Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh was made a Union Territories.

In 1969, the State of Meghalaya was formed out of Assam. Later on, Himachal, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura. Manipur, Sikkim became fully fledged states of the Union. In 2000, the States of Jharkhand was created out of Bihar, Uttaranchal out of UP and Chhattisgarh out of MP. Now Telangna people in Andhra Pradesh have been demanding the states of a separate state of Indian Union.


III. Demand for Full Statehood:

The union territories have been putting forward their demands for grant of full statehood. Most of such demands have already been accepted. In 1971, Himachal Pradesh got the status of a full state and thereafter Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh (former NEFA), Sikkim got full statehoods. Now the Central Government is considering the grant of full statehood to Delhi. If granted, it will also encourage other union territories to demand statehoods. The demands for full statehoods also reflect the presence of a sort of regionalism.

IV. Demand for Autonomy:

Another form of manifestation of regionalism in India has been the demand for more autonomy. In particular, this demand has been raised by the states with powerful regional political parties. In Tamil Nadu the DMK, in Punjab the Akali Dal, in Andhra Pradesh the Telgu Desham, in Assam the Assam Gana Parishad, the National conference in J and K and in West Bengal the Forward Bloc have been continuously demanding a larger share of powers for the states.


Since 1967 i.e., after the 4th General Elections which led to the emergence of non-Congress governments in many states, the demand for state autonomy has been gaining more and more strength. This demand has its basis in the Unitarian spirit of the Indian constitution. It has been aggravated by central political interferences in the affairs of states. The overthrow of duly elected State governments on one pretext or the other has been also responsible for giving strength to this demand.

The cry for State Autonomy goes to the extreme of demanding the limitation of Union powers only to the spheres of Defence, External Affairs, Currency and Coinage, Railways and Post and Telegraphs. The Rajamannar Committee report in Tamil Nadu, the Memorandum on Centre-State relations prepared by the West Bengal Government and the Anandpur Sahib Resolution of the Akali Dal, all advocate the need for a greater state autonomy. This has been causing strains upon Centre-State relations.

V. Demand for Regional Autonomy within a State:

In some of the states of the Indian Union, people belonging to various regions have been demanding recognition of their regional indentities. The genesis of such demands lies in the regional imbalances resulting from an inefficient planning. In J & K, the Ladakhis demand a regional status. In West Bengal the Gorkhaland demand was based on this principle. Even demands for Telangana, Bodoland, and Konkan states can be placed under this head. Now these demands have got transformed into demands for the grant of statehoods.


VI. Inter-State Disputes as a manifestation of Regionalism:

The forces of regionalism in India are also visible in the inter-state disputes. For instance, the people of Punjab and Haryana are involved a in dispute over the issue of transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and the transfer of certain areas of Abohar and Fazilka to Haryana.

The boundary disputes between Maharashtra and Karnataka on Belgaum, between Karnataka and Kerala on Kasargod, between Assam and Nagaland on Rangma reserved forests in Rangapani area, between Assam and Meghalaya on Langpih, Hakumari and Jingiran river areas of Garo hills, and between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh on Pasighat area are manifestations of regionalism.

To this we can add the Inter-state water disputes. For instance, the disputes between Punjab and Haryana over the issue of distribution of Ravi-Beas and Sutlej waters, the dispute between Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, on the issue of sharing of Narmada waters among Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and dispute over the distribution of Cauvery waters. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka have been involved in a dispute over Godavari waters. The states which are parties to these disputes are acting under the influence of regionalism and each state wants to gain over and above the other states.


VII. Sons of the Soil Principle as a Manifestation of Regionalism:

Another form of regionalism in India has been the popularity and implementation of the principle of the Sons of the Soil. Acting Under it, the states impose residential and domicile conditions for appointments within the state administration. This principle stands sanctified by the Constitution which empowers the legislatures to make residence within their states a qualification for employment. Acting under it, almost all state have enacted legislations for reserving jobs for their respective inhabitants.

Special provisions regarding J & K, Nagaland, Sikkim, and some others, have clearly been based upon the principle of Sons of the Soil. This principle has given strength to regionalism as stands imbibed in the cries for Maharashtra for the Maharashtrians, Orissa for Oriyas and Assam for the Assamese.

The regional political parties like MLNF in Mizoram, NINF in Manipur, Gana Sangram Parishad in Assam and others always demand that ‘outsiders’ and ‘foreigners’ should quit their states.Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram, in fact in all North-Eastern states, there is a strong resentment over the presence of foreigners (persons who have migrated from Bangladesh) on their soils and the passions generated by such a demand do not spare the fellow Indians belonging to different states of the Indian Union.

VIII. Militant Regionalism:

Another dangerous dimension of regionalism in India has been the presence of militant regionalism, which has made its appearance in the form of various Senas like Senas in Maharashtra, Tamil Sena in Tamil Nadu, Hindu Senas in North Indian States, Anti-Hindi Sena in West Bengal, Sardar Sena in Gujarat, Jagannath Sena in Orissa and Lochit Sena in Assam etc. These senas have comp up largely due to the emergence of regional imbalances which have encouraged people with greater skill and entrepreneurial skills to move to other regions.

As a result, people of the region adopt a hostile attitude towards these people and seek protection of their own group interests. They start looking towards the migrants as enemies of their sons of the soil. Some regional or local parties have been openly demanding that people belonging to other states should go back to own states. This is indeed a very serious and unfortunate demand

We are all Indians and equals citizens of India will equal rights & freedom. We live in different states but the whole of India belongs to us and no one can or should be permitted to pursue narrow localism/regionalism.

IX. Linguistic Regionalism:

Another forms of regionalism has been linguistic regionalism. Language has remained a formidable basis of regionalism. The policy of linguistic reorganisation of states has been in the main responsible for this development. This policy has been instrumental in setting the stage for the emergence of small states in the Indian Union.

The fall out of this policy has been the outbreak of linguistic riots in bilingual states. It has also resulted in violence against linguistic minorities within a state. The centre itself has failed to implement the constitutional requirement of making Hindi as the official language of India.

However, all this should not be taken to mean that linguism alone has been responsible for the rise of regionalism. It has been one factor and not the only factor of regionalism in India. The above account clearly establishes the fact that regionalism has been a challenge to national integration. It operates in several different forms and in almost all parts of the country.

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