Regionalism and Linguism: Important Features in Indian Politics – Part 1


The term regionalism is generally used for the counter movement to any exaggerated or opposite form of centralization. It is also used to refer to assertion of distinct ethnic, linguist or economic interest by various groups within the nation. In simple words, we understand that the term regionalism has two connotations. In the negative sense, it implies excessive attachment to one’s region in preference to the country or the state. In the positive sense, it is the political attribute associated with people’s love for their region, culture, language, et cetera with a view to maintain their independent identity. While regionalism is a welcomed thing as far as it encourages the people to develop a sense of brotherhood and commonness on the basis of common language, religion or historical background, negative regionalism is a great threat to the unity and integrity of the country.

The feeling of regionalism may arise due to continuous neglect of particular area or region by ruling authorities, or it may spring up because of increasing political awareness of erstwhile backward people that have been discriminated against. Quite often, the unscrupulous political leaders encourage the feeling of regionalism to maintain their hold over a particular area or a group of people.  Regionalism is not a new phenomenon in the Indian political system. In the pre-independence days, it was promoted by the British imperialists and they deliberately encouraged the people of various regions to think in terms of the region rather than the nation as a whole, with a view to maintain their hold over India. After independence, leaders at the national level tried to foster a feeling among the people that they belong to one nation.

After Independence, the demand for linguistic re-organization of states sprang up it was felt to be essential for administrative convenience also the first state to be established based on linguistic region was Telugu speaking state of Andhra Pradesh in 1953. Presently we see the rise of regional aspirations, leading to the demand to carve out small states out of big state. The movement for Telangana, Vidarbha and Bundelkhand are examples of sub-regionalism. People belonging to less developed sub-regions started demanding separation from the big state, hence giving rise to sub-regionalism.

Causes for Growth of Regionalism and Linguistic Conflicts:


  1. Reaction against imposition of language or culture: In the first place, Regionalism made its appearance as a reaction against the efforts of the national government to impose a particular ideology, language or cultural pattern on all people and groups. Thus, the Southern States have resisted imposition of Hindi as official language because they feared this would lead to dominance of the North.
  2. Neglect of a Region: Continuous neglect of an area or region by the ruling authority and concentration of administrative and political power at one center has given rise to demand for decentralization of authority and bifurcation of unilingual states.
  3. Desire to preserve Sub-cultures: The desire of the various units of Indian federal system to maintain their sub-cultural regions and greater degrees of self-government has promoted regionalism and given rise to demand for greater autonomy.
  4. Desire of Regional Parties: The desire of certain regional parties to capture power also led to rise of regionalism. It is well-known that political parties like DMK, AIADMK, Akali Dal, Telugu Desam, Asom Gana Parishad, etc., have encouraged regionalism to capture political power.
  5. Failure to identify group interests with national interest: Even after several years of being independence, these groups have failed to match their group interest with national interest. As a result, the feeling of regionalism has persisted. These groups think in terms of local issues and priorities. They feel that if the group simulates with the larger nation, it would lose its identity, and that would be dangerous for the group to survive.
  6. Growing awareness of backward regions: The growing awareness among the people of backward areas that they are being discriminated against has also promoted the feeling of regionalism. The local political leaders have fully exploited this factor and try to feed the people with the idea that the central government was deliberately trying to maintain regional imbalances by neglecting social and economic development of certain area.


Aishwarya Says:

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