Regionalism – UPSC GS1

  • India is witnessing the re-emergence of subnationalism as a political idea.
  • The key issue of contention is regarding a separate State flag for Karnataka.
Politics in Karnataka:
  • Karnataka is neither ruled by a regional party nor has shown any significant separatist or secessionist tendencies in the past.
  • Karnataka has had an unofficial yellow-and-red flag for almost 50 years, the government is now considering adopting an official State flag.
  • Protest against the imposition of Hindi, most notably on the signboards of Namma Metro stations in Bengaluru.
  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has strongly come out in support of the State flag and against the use of Hindi signboards in the Metro.
Accommodating multiple identities:
  • The nationalist movement had furthered a pluralistic idea of India.
  • The following key legislative moves ensured that Indian national identity is not homogeneous.
  • States Reorganisation Act, 1956: green signal for formation of states based on linguistic criteria.
  • The Official Languages Act of 1963 prevented the planned transition of India’s official language from English to Hindi. These key legislative moves ensured that Indian national identity is not homogeneous.
  • India does not follow a classical majoritarian form of democracy.
  • The first-past-the-post electoral system tends to favour ethnocultural majorities, but there are also certain group-based fundamental rights provided in the Constitution, such as in Articles 29 and 30.
  • Part XXI of the Constitution has a set of special provisions for certain States and sub-State regions, while the Fifth and Sixth Schedules give special institutional measures for the administration of areas with high Scheduled Tribe populations.
Furthering a plural democracy
  • The accommodation of linguistic and cultural diversities does not merely help maintain the integrity of India’s national boundaries, but also promotes positive social outcomes.
  • Greater the level of subnational solidarity, higher will be the State’s commitment to social welfare.
  • Kerala’s success is the most striking example.
  • She contrasts Kerala and Tamil Nadu with Uttar Pradesh, a development laggard with little subnational solidarity.
Sub nationalism to be viewed as a constructive element:
  • India’s pluralistic nationalism celebrates the coexistence of multiple identities.
  • The assertion of subnational pride in States like Karnataka counters attempts at advancing the homogenising narrative of Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan.
  • As long as subnationalism is not secessionist, or aimed at othering sections of the population, it should not be viewed as a threat, but rather as a constitutive element of India’s plural democracy.
Related Questions:
  1. What is the basis of regionalism? Is it that unequal distribution of benefits of development on regional basis eventually promotes regionalism? Substantiate your answer. (UPSC Mains 2016)

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