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07 Dec

Basis of Regionalism

Basis of Regionalism
Regionalism is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Its bases are varied. Here we will discuss the geographical, historical, cultural, economic and politico-administrative bases of regionalism.
Geographical Basis: Usually people relate their regional identity of certain specific geographical boundaries. After independence integration of Princely States resulted in the merger of small states into new big states. The loyalties of citizens were torn between old territorial boundaries and new territorial structures. As pointed our earlier this was the major factor responsible for the success of princes in elections particularly when they contested from their former territories in the newly created states. However, it would be wrong to overestimate the importance of geographical boundaries. It is true that memories of old geographical boundaries of princely states still haunt the people and are exploited by political leaders but it can hardly be denied that they are yielding place to new and bigger territorial identities like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
Historical and Social Bases: Historical and social bases constitute the bedrock of the politics of regionalism. Several components in this category are not only important individually but also in conjunction with each other.
History supported regionalism with cultural heritage, folklore, myths and symbolism. The most striking example is that of Dravida Kazhagam and the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. But history cannot be considered as the most important basis of regionalism.
Economic and political factors have combined with history to generate regionalism. This can again be seen in the change in the stand of DMK from secession to one of autonomy within the federal framework of the Constitution.
Language is perhaps the most important mark of group identification. Language expresses the shared life, thought structure and value patterns of people. It has the capacity to unite the people together and make them work to improve their common destiny. In this sense linguistic homogeneity strengthens a positive movement.
Establishment of State Reorganization Commission in 1955 was the result of demand for formation of regional units based in linguistic regionalism. SRC could not completely follow the principle of one language one state. This could not be treated as the sole criteria for the demarcation of state boundaries.
Bilingual states like Bombay, Punjab, etc., were created. However, splitting up of Bombay in 1960, Punjab in 1966 and Assam since mid-sixties into linguistically more homogeneous states gave further impetus to linguistic regionalism in Indian politics.
If language had been synonymous with region, the political aspiration of every linguistic group would have been satisfied or the formation of separate states. This, however, is neither a reality nor a foreseeable possibility.
On the contrary there have been demands for separate states comprising languages or dialects within this wider linguistic group. This can be found in the occasional demand for a Maithili or for recognition of Rajasthani, Haryanvi, etc., as scheduled languages in the Constitution.
The first reason being that Hindi speaking people are distributed over a very large territory. Their number is over 200 million. One state cannot be created for them. They have been divided into six states U.P. Bihar, M.P. Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and a couple of Union territories. There has rarely been a demand for the formation of single state of Hindi-speaking people.
Thus regionalism is closely associated with language but is not synonymous with linguism. Regionalism can take place inside a linguistic state for example creation of Marathi-speaking Maharashtra. The seven states of North East India refer to themselves as seven sisters. They have tried to form common bonds on the basis of their problems of development.
They have also tried to develop a regional identity. These seven states include Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. In other words language is not the sole generator of regionalism. It is
one of the several bases of regionalism in India. In most cases of linguistic regionalism many inter-related factors are usually found to be working together.

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