Regionalism stands for the love of a particular region or an area in preference to the nation or an other region. Regionalism just like Communalism is such a conservative and parochial sentiment that it can blind people to a larger, broader, requirements and needs of the Nation. In a country like India where language, customs, traditions, costumes etc change every half a kilometre, regionalism, if not strewn properly into national fabric, can put strings on its unity and integrity. Earlier these voices got subdued under the clarion call of country’s independence. But with the birth of India as an individual nation and with the creation of Pakistan, such hushed voices have suddenly become more pronounced.
The three major factors contributing to the rise of Regionalism are—firstly, the Regional inequalities have been responsible to some extent because the economic development has been differential. Some areas are more developed than the others. Therefore, it gives rise to the feeling of being left out from the mainstream. Secondly, even linguistic differences play a vital role in this regard. Language corresponds with a special variety of culture, tradition and literature. In India, such primordial loyalties actually outdo National loyalties. Thirdly, the most unfortunate factor that intensifies the problem of Regionalism is the Political Factor. Unfortunately, our country has produced only politicians and not statesmen after independence, who have encouraged Regionalism for their own vested interest of staying put in power.
The first demand right after independence and partition was of a separate State for Telugu speaking people. A little spark gave rise to an infinite chain reaction of petty demands for separate identity. The result was – at the time of independence there were 11 provinces which rose to 25 States alongwith 6 Union Territories. The Tribals of Chhota Nagpur talked of Jharkhand, demands for Uttarakhand, Udayanchal, Chhatisgarh, Telangana – the list is endless. This kind of an unwanted tendency could have been checked to promote National Unity and Integrity keeping in mind the history of the country. But the selfish ulterior motives of a few politicians have actually and successfully resulted in further disintegration of the nation with the creation of new states.
Instead of focusing on the progress and development of the nation in an era where the entire world has shrunk to a global village, we are still quarreling with our own people over creating new spaces. This compartmentalized mentality is a great setback to National Integration and Unity. Sadly, it has become a permanent feature of our political system. In our federal society, Regionalism to some extent is unavoidable and natural but to cash upon this love of people to their region in bargain for power is definitely not acceptable. Probably our constitution makers feared such tendencies to pose a serious threat to our country and therefore provided for a strong centre.
We have tried to overcome the obstacles of Regionalism. Yet a lot needs to be done in volatile situations of Jammu and Kashmir, and the north-east. Keeping in mind the various contributing factors, reasons and our blotted history, the government should try to adopt a constructive approach in order to neutralize such tendencies towards factionalism and parochialism and frame policies while creating a balance and harmony in all the regions in the form of economic, political and social development, in order to promote National Unity and Integrity.