Post Independent India: Regionalism and Regional Inequality

Regionalism and Regional Inequality

Defining Regionalism

  • Regionalism is the extreme loyalty and love shown to a particular region. It expresses itself in such a distorted notions like development of one’s own region even at the cost of interests of other regions and people, and unwillingness to allow people from other regions to work and settle in region.
  • Regionalism describes situations in which different groups with distinctive identities coexist within the same state boundaries, often concentrated within a particular region and sharing strong feelings of collective identity.
  • Regionalism stands for the love of a particular region or an area in preference to the nation or any other region. It often involves ethnic groups whose aims may include independence from a national state and the development of their own political power.
  • Regionalism militates against nationalism and impedes the process national integration. This may be characterized by the commonness of cultural, linguistic or historical and social background.
  • Regionalism is a country wide phenomenon and it took the form of well-conceived and well organized agitations and campaigns. Regionalism has been the most potent force in Indian politics since India’s independence. It has remained the basis of regional political parties. It is a significant type of sub-territorial loyalty.
  • In the post-independence period, it has often been conflicting as well as collaborating force, largely depending on the manner of accommodation. Regionalism in India is deeply rooted in its manifold diversity of languages, cultures, tribes, religions, communities, etc. It originates from the feeling of regional concentration, which is often fuelled by a sense of regional deprivation. 
  • Since the roots of regionalism lie in linguistic, ethnic, economic and cultural identities of the people living in specific geographical area, political scholars have treated various forms of regionalism which include economic regionalism, linguistic regionalism, political regionalism and even sub-regional movements in the general frame of regionalism.
  • In other words, it is the manifestation of those neglected socio-political elements which fail to find expression in the mainstream polity and culture. These feelings of frustration and anger resulting from exclusion and neglect find expression in regionalism.
  • Prejudices and biases have a lasting impact on the mind of the people. They themselves do not play a part in the political process, but as a psychic factor they do influence their party organisations and their political behaviour. Seen in this perspective, regionalism in India, as elsewhere, is basically a psychic phenomenon. It has its root in the minds of the people
  • Regionalism in India may be viewed from two dimensions – positive and negative. In positive terms regionalism embodies a quest for self-identity and self-fulfillment on the part of to domiciles of a region. In negative terms, regionalism reflects a psyche of relative deprivation on the part of People of an area.
  • “Son of the soil” doctrine (since 1950s) explains a form of regionalism. According to it, a state specifically belongs to the main linguistic group inhabiting it or that the state constitutes the exclusive homeland of its main language speakers, who are the sons of the soil or local residents.
  • Why son of the soil?
    • There remains a competition for job between migrant and local educated middle class youth.
    • This theory works mostly in cities, because here outsiders also, get opportunity for education, etc.
    • In such theories, major involvement of people is due to rising aspiration.
    • Economy’s failure to create enough employment opportunity.

Causes of Regionalism

1. Geographical Cause:

  • Linguistic distribution along geographical boundaries and isolated settlement pattern induce in people the concept of regionalism. Sometimes people live, in such area which appears as a separate region cut off from the rest of the country and thereby may give rise to feelings of separatism among the inhabitants of the region

2. Historical Causes:

  • Due to historical reasons people believe that they are separate from the rest. A feeling of regionalism may develop among the people of a particular region if they believe that they have been politically dominated by the people of other regions.

3. Economic factors:

  • Uneven development in different parts of the country may be considered as the prime reason for regionalism and separatism.
  • There are certain regions which are economically backward even after independence. No effort has been made for regional balance in matters of industrial, agricultural and above all, economic development. This disparity has caused the feeling of relative deprivation and thereby the demand for separate states, for example, North East India.
  • On occasions sons of soil theory has been put forth to promote the interests of neglected.

4. Political and Administrative Factors:

  • Political parties, particularly regional parties and local leaders exploit the regional sentiments to capture power. They give emphasis on regional problems in their election manifesto and promise for regional development. This has resulted in the feeling of regionalism. The regional parties like ADMK, AIDMK in Tamil Nadu have captured power.

6. Effort to preserve culture:

  • The efforts of the national government to impose a particular ideology, language or cultural pattern on all people and groups compelled the regionalism movements to crop up. With the same effect, the states of the South began to resist the imposition of Hindi as an official language as they feared this would lead to dominance of the North. Emulating the same the Assam anti-foreigner movement was launched by the Assamese to preserve their own culture

5. Product of cultural and social differences:

  • As the country is still away from realising the goal of a nation state, the various groups have failed to identify their group interests with national interests, hence the feeling of regionalism has persisted. The growing awareness among the people of backward areas that they are being discriminated against has also promoted feeling of regionalism. The local political leaders have fully exploited this factor.

How to combat regionalism?

1. Development of Transport and Communication:

  • Transport and communication network should be improved so that people of a region may find it easier to visit other regions and develop friendly relations with people therein.

2. Removal of Regional Imbalance:

  • Uneven economic development and regional imbalance has been the main cause of disgruntlement among the people of a particular region for regionalism. Hence, effort should be made to distribute the national resources in a planned manner to mitigate the problem of regionalism.

3. Economic Development of Deprived Regions:

  • Top priority is to be given on economic development of those regions where people have developed the feeling of relative deprivation. So that they can be drawn into the national mainstream.
  • The central government must not interfere in the affairs of the State unless it is unavoidable for national interest.Except for issues of national importance, the states should be given freedom to run their own affairs

4. Acculturation:

  • The cultural distinctiveness of regional groups delimits the interaction between- different groups. Frequent cultural contacts should be promoted to break the regional barriers and to develop the nationalist spirit.

5. Action on Regional Parties:

  • The regional parties which play a dirty role in exploiting the regional feelings of the people should be banned.
  • Problems of people must be solved in a peaceful and constitutional manner. Politicians must not be allowed to misuse the issue of regional demands

6. Proper Education:

  • Education can play an important role for the promotion of national integration. It may be construed as a powerful agent for doing away with the separatist tendencies among the countrymen.

7. Appeal through Mass-Media:

  • Mass media, particularly electronic media are powerful agents of social change. Hence, extensive effort should be made to encourage feelings of nationalism among the people through mass media communication.

Form of Regionalism in India

  • Regionalism in India appears in four forms:
  1. demand of the people of certain areas for separate statehood
  2. demand of people of certain Union Territories for full-fledged statehood
  3. demand of certain people for favourable settlement of inter-state disputes
  4. the demand of the people of certain areas for secession from the Indian Union.
  • However, it is agreed that the rise and growth of regionalism is rooted in the failure of the national political system to meet the aspirations of the people. To some extent, these have also taken the shape of violent movements galvanizing the popular participation. They can be explained as follows:-

(a) Proper Regionalism:

  • It is the first and most legitimate kind of regionalism which is often in the form of the demand of a separate space or state of one’s own, for the purpose of resting securely within the Union of India.
  • This was spearheaded by the Telugu-speaking residents of the erstwhile Madras Presidency. The forms of protest it involved were attacks on state property, and the hunger-fast, most definitively in the case of Potti Sriramulu, who in 1952 died after not eating for 52 days, his death leading, in the short term and as a result of this, the creation of the state of Andhra Pradesh and, later redrawing of the map of India on linguistic lines took place.
  • With the same token, some of such protests for the creation of a separate state gave birth to leading regional parties like the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Madras, Akali Dal in Punjab, the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh, and the Asom Gana Parishad in Assam. All of such parties won state elections by successfully claiming that they stood for the rights of their regions. These parties proclaimed themselves regional by their very names.
  • This category also includes sub-regionalism, which pertains to the groups, which are in minority within the states based on language, who also occupy a definite territory within these states, and by virtue of language or ethnicity, they have enough to bring them together and to bind them against the majority community in that state. Prominent examples being, the Nepalis in West Bengal and the Bodo-speakers in Assam, both of whom organised movements for separate states of their own.The successful protests include those which were raised by the hill people of Uttar Pradesh,which delivered to them a new state called Uttarakhand, and the tribal and other residents of the Chhotanagpur Plateau, whose claim from a Bihar was the state of Jharkhand.

(b) Parochialism:

  • Another form of regionalism has been termed as parochialism. This can be benevolent, as in evident in form or pretensions of the Bengali Bhadralok who claim that their literature, music, dress and cuisine are superior to others in India. However, sometimes it has also taken the form of blood shade, as evident in the attacks on Bihari labourers by the ULFA cadre in Assam, in which the belief rests that only Assamese speakers have the right to live in Assam.
  • This kind of blood shade was committed by the Shiv Sena goons in mid-sixties, who in Bombay began to attack South Indians entitling them as outsiders to the city. Restaurants were torched, and offices and factories threatened not to employ south Indians in their establishments. Recently, the Shiv Sena kept the Bengalis and Biharis at its target. Following the same, the MNS has made the North Indians its target.
  • The recent attacks on Bihari labourers by the United Liberation Front of Assam are criminal acts. But they also need to be viewed historically, as an undoubtedly perverted manifestation of a popular sentiment that has existed since the beginning of the Indian Republic, and which has indeed shaped and reshaped that republic. This is a sentiment based on the attachment to one’s language and locality.

(c) Secessionism from the Indian Union:

  • It can be classified as the most violent and dangerous form of regionalism as it is based on the desire, or hope, or fantasy, to divide the Republic of India and form a separate nation of one’s own.
  • This form of regionalism evolved with A. Z. Phizo’s Naga National Council, and T. Muivah’s National Socialist Council of Nagaland. In the similar way, militants in Kashmir can also be said to follow this form of regionalism as they are persistently committing bloodbath in pursuit of their dream of a separate state. The movement of Khalistan, spearheaded by the Sikh extremists during 1980s also hoped to form their own nation-state. In fact, even the Dravidian movement for many years demanded a separate nation out of India.

Examples of such form of Regionalism:

(a) Demand for Tamil Nadu:

  • In 1960 the DMK and Tamil organised a joint campaign throughout Madras state demanding its secession from India and. for making it an independent sovereign state Tamil Nadu.
  • In 1961, another organisation by the name of Tamil Arasu Kazhagam lunched an agitation for the renaming of Madras state as Tamil Nadu. DMK proposed that the states of Madras, Andhra Pradesh. Kerala and Mysore should secede from Indian Union and form on independent republic of Dravida Nadu.
  • In 1963 Parliament adopted the constitution bill which made laws providing penalties for any person questioning the sovereignty and integrity of the Indian Union. Also India fought wars with China and Pakistan. These factors led to DMK dropping from its programme the demand for a sovereign independent Dravidian federation and its secession from the Indian Union.

(b) Demands for Sikhistan and Punjabi Suba:

  • After the British India was partitioned on a religious basis in 1947, the Punjab province was divided between India and newly created Pakistan. The Sikh population that, in 1941, was as high as 19.8% in some districts that went to Pakistan, dropped to 0.1% in all of them, and it rose sharply in the districts assigned to India. They were still a minority in the Punjab province of India, which remained Hindu majority.
  • In 1947, Kapur Singh, a senior Sikh Indian Civil Service officer was dismissed by the Government on the charges of corruption. After his dismissal, he published a pamphlet alleging that Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had issued a directive in 1947 to all the Commissioners in Punjab recommending that the Sikhs in general must be treated as a criminal tribe. In reality, Nehru had not sent out any such directive.
  • Kapur Singh was later supported by the Akali Dal leader Master Tara Singh, who helped him win elections to the Punjab Legislative Assembly and the Lok Sabha. Kapur Singh later played an important role in drafting the Anandpur Resolution which postulated preservation of “the concept of distinct and sovereign identity” of the Khalsa or simply the Sikh (Nation).
  • In Punjab there was a demand for Sikhistan. As early as 1949 the Sikhs under master Tara singh declared that the Hindus of Punjab had became highly communal and that the Sikhs could not hope to get any justice from them. The Sikhs under the Akali Dal put a demand for a separate Punjabi speaking state.

Punjabi Suba Movement:

  • After independence of India, the Punjabi Suba movement led by the Sikh political party Akali Dal sought creation of a province (suba) for Punjabi people. The Akali Dal officially never demanded an independent country for the Sikh nation. However, the issues raised during the Punjabi Suba movement were later used as a premise for creation of a separate Sikh country by the proponents of Khalistan.
  • While demanding separate state for Sikhs, Sikh leaders tactically stressed the linguistic basis of the demand, while downplaying its religious basis. Fresh from the memory of the partition, the Punjabi Hindus were also concerned about living in a Sikh-majority state. The Hindu newspapers from Jalandhar, exhorted the Punjabi Hindus to declare Hindi as their “mother tongue”, so that the Punjabi Suba proponents could be deprived of the argument that their demand was solely linguistic.The case for creating a Punjabi Suba case was presented to the States Reorganisation Commission established in 1955. The States Reorganization Commission, not recognizing Punjabi as a language that was grammatically very distinct from Hindi, rejected the demand for a Punjabi state. Another reason that the Commission gave in its report was that the movement lacked general support of the people inhabiting the region. Many Sikhs felt discriminated against by the commission.
  • However, the Sikh leaders continued their agitation for the creation of a Punjabi Suba. The Akal Takht played a vital role in organizing Sikhs to campaign for the cause. Finally, in September 1966, the Indira Gandhi-led Union Government accepted the demand, and Punjab was trifurcated as per the Punjab Reorganisation Act. Areas in the south of Punjab that spoke the Haryanvi dialect of Hindi formed the new state of Haryana, while the areas that spoke the Pahari dialects were merged to Himachal Pradesh (a Union Territory at the time). The remaining areas, except Chandigarh, formed the new Punjabi-majority state, which retained the name of Punjab.
  • River Water Dispute: Before the reorganization, Punjab was a riparian state as far as the rivers Yamuna, Beas and Ravi were concerned. However, after 1966, Yamuna ran only through Haryana, while Beas and Ravi ran only through Punjab and Himachal. Since the Beas project was already under way and was envisaged for the undivided state, Haryana was also given a share of the river waters. However, in 1976, when Ravi was made shareable, Haryana was given a share in it, while Punjab received no share of the Yamuna waters.The Punjab politicians alleged that the decision was highly unjust to Punjab. A section of Sikhs perceived this diversion of river waters to the Hindu-majority Haryana as unfair and as an anti-Sikh measure.
  • The Akali Dal leadership being aware that it is not possible to have Sikhistan, as separate independent state outside the Indian union. They therefore started demanding like the DMK in Tamil Nadu that the states should be given more powers and autonomy.

(c) Demand for Khalistan:

  • While the majority of the Akali leaders pursued the idea of a more empowered Sikh-majority state within India, some other Sikh leaders such as Jagjit Singh Chauhan pursued the idea of a sovereign Khalistan. Two years after losing the Punjab Assembly elections in 1969, Chauhan moved to the United Kingdom, and also went to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan to attempt to set up a Sikh government.
  • Operating from a building termed “Khalistan House”, he remained in contact with the Sikh religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Chauhan also maintained contacts among various groups in Canada, the USA and Germany. He visited Pakistan. Chauhan declared himself president of the “Republic of Khalistan”, named a Cabinet, and issued Khalistan “passports”, “postage stamps” and “Khalistan dollars”.
  • The late 1970s and the early 1980s saw the increasing involvement of the Sikh religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Punjab politics. Indira Gandhi’s Congress party supported Bhindranwale in a bid to split the Sikh votes and weaken the Akali Dal, its chief rival in Punjab.The Congress supported the candidates backed by Bhindranwale in the 1978 SGPC elections. Bhindranwale was originally not very influential, but the activities of the Congress elevated him to the status of a major leader by the early 1980s.
  • On 15 September 1981, Bhindranwale was arrested for his alleged role in the assassination of Lala Jagat Narain, the Hindu owner of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers and  a prominent critic of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Bhindranwale was released in October by the Punjab State Government, as no evidence was found against him. During this one month, some followers of Bhindranwale embarked on a violent campaign to obtain his release, attacking Hindus, derailing trains and even hijacking an aeroplane.
  • The Khalistani movement can be considered to have effectively started from this point. Though there were a number of leaders vying for leadership role, most were based in United Kingdom and Canada, and had limited influence. In Punjab, Bhindranwale was the unchallenged leader of the movement and made his residence in the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
  • In August 1982, under the leadership of Harcharan Singh Longowal, the Akali Dal launched the Dharam Yudh Morcha in collaboration with Bhindranwale. The goal of the organization was implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution (a statement made by a Sikh political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1973). Indira Gandhi considered the Anandpur Resolution as a secessionist document and evidence of an attempt to secede from the Union of India. Akali Dal was classified as a separatist party.The Akali Dal officially stated that the Sikhs were Indians, and Anandpur Sahib resolution did not envisage an autonomous Sikh State of Khalistan. Its president Harchand Singh Longowal declared:

    Let us make it clear once and for all that the Sikhs have no designs to get away from India in any manner. What they simply want is that they should be allowed to live within India as Sikhs, free from all direct and indirect interference and tampering with their religious way of life. Undoubtedly, the Sikhs have the same nationality as other Indians.

  • There were widespread murders of Hindus and moderate Sikhs in Punjab by followers of Bhindrawala. Khalistan movement was supported by Pakistan.
  • Akali Dal began another agitation in February 1984 protesting against clause (2)(b) of Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which ambiguously states “the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion”, though it also implicitly recognizes Sikhism as a separate religion with the words “the wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion.

Operation Blue Star:

  • The Darbar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, is the holiest of Sikh temples. While Bhindranwale had stated that he neither supported nor opposed the concept of Khalistan, a number of his supporters were pro-Khalistan. In 1984, the followers of Bhindranwale, led by and Shabeg Singh, had placed ammunitions and militants in the temple. Unsuccessful negotiations were held with Bhindranwale and his supporters, following which Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to storm the temple complex. many innocent worshippers were caught in the crossfire. Though the operation was militarily successful, it was a huge political embarrassment – as the attack coincided with Sikh religious festival, a large number of pilgrims were staying inside the complex.
  • On the morning of 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by two Sikh security guards (Satwant Singh and Beant Singh) in New Delhi in retaliation for Operation Blue Star. The assassination triggered fulminate violence against Sikhs across north India.

Rajiv-Longowal Accord (Punjab accord):

  • The Central government attempted to seek a political solution to the grievances of the Sikhs through the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, which took place between the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Harchand Singh Longowal, the then President of the Akali Dal. The government accepted the demands of Akali Dal who in turn agreed to withdraw their agitation.
  • The accord recognised the religious, territorial and economic demands of the Sikhs that were thought to be non-negotiable under Indira Gandhi’s tenure. Some of its promises could not be fulfilled due to the disagreements.
  • The agreement provided a basis for a return to normalcy, but it was denounced by a few Sikh militants who refused to give up demand for an independent Khalistan. Harchand Singh Longowal was later assassinated by these militants.
  • The present situation in Punjab is generally regarded as peaceful.

(d) Demand for Mizoram:

  • In 1959, Mizo Hills was devastated by a great famine known in Mizo history as ‘Mautam’. The cause of the famine was attributed to flowering of bamboos which consequently resulted in rat population boom in large numbers. After eating up bamboos seeds, the rats turned towards crops and infested the huts and houses and became a plaque to the Villages. Very little of the grain was harvested. Considerable number died of starvation.
  • Earlier in 1955, Mizo Cultural Society was formed and Laldenga was its Secretary who had served in Indian Army. In March 1960, the name of the Mizo Cultural Society was changed to ‘Mautam front‘.
  • During the famine of 1959–1960, this society took lead in demanding relief and managed to attract the attention of all sections of the people. In September 1960, the Society adopted the name Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF). The MNFF gained considerable popularity as a large number of Mizo Youth assisted in transporting rice and other essential commodities to interior villages.
  • The Mizo National Famine Front, which was originally formed to help ease the immense sufferings of the people during the severe Mautam Famine in Mizoram, was converted into Mizo National Front (MNF) on October 22, 1961. The ways in which the authority of the day handled the famine left the people disillusioned. The wave of secessionist and armed insurrection was running high among the Mizos.
  • In 1966, MNF led a major uprising against the government, but failed to gain administrative control of the Mizo district. The secessionist movement held on for about two decades. During that time, they invaded Burma claiming chin state and Tahan belong to Mizoram since most of the resident in Tahan are Mizo.
  • In the wake of the Chinese aggression the MNF was banned.
  • Mizoram Peace Accord, 1986: This chapter of insurgency finally came to a close with the signing of the Mizoram Peace Accord, 1986 during Rajiv Gandhi , between the underground government of the Mizo National Front and the Government of India. Under the terms of the peace accord, Mizoram was granted statehood in February 1987. Congress government in the state resigned and Laldenga became Chief Minister (but soon lost power due to defections in the party).

(e) Problems in North East and Demand for Nagaland:

  • India has inherited numerous problems of the British Raj days, but perhaps none of them are as intractable and protracted as the one energised by the tribesmen of the erstwhile Naga Hills and Tuensang that now constitute the State of Nagaland.
  • The British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India. The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”.
  • In their own interest, the British declared the Naga territory as a “backward area” and aimed at administering it “in a simpler and more personal manner than those of the more civilised and longer settled tribes”. The success of the British policy, however, rested on the least possible interference and the use of traditional institutions, with the missionary rather than the administrator as the main harbinger of change. Therefore, little importance was given to the improvement of means of communication and natural resources. The task of educating the tribesmen was left in the hands of the missionaries whose main task was the spread of Christianity.
  • The “hill tribes’s loyalty to the Government, some British officers abroad suggested new plans (“Crown Colony“) for the hill areas of Northeast India.The strategic and geographically crucial location of the Northeast ensured that this region had a special place in the plan of the British. Boxed in by four countries viz., China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, with only a 22 km wide chicken-neck corridor of Siliguri linking it with mainland India, the region fitted well into the scheme of the colonial rulers to turn into their “Crown Colony” under the “Coupland Plan” even after independence. It would have eventually been used as a springboard to further their interests against Myanmar, India and China. The “Quit India Movement” and the ensuing mass upsurge left little time in the hands of Britishers to execute their plan.The scheme of a “Crown Colony” could not gain ground due to the “peculiar political and constitutional situation” facing the country on the eve of Indian independence.
  • Unfortunately, even after independence the scenario remained more or less the same as the differences could not be bridged. Leaders got deeply involved in the problems like mass exodus, maintenance of law and order and rehabilitation of refugees, which arose after the partition. The inhabitants of Northeastern India continued to live in isolation, following their established culture, customs, traditions and laws.
  • Nagaland was the first to take up the path of violence which was soon followed by Manipur, Mizoram and finally by the whole Northeastern region. Naga Insurgent groups mainly demand full independence. In 1946 came the Naga National Council (NNC), which, under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947.  After ‘referendum’ NNC claims 99% of Naga people support independence. NNC boycotts first general election of 1952, launches violent secessionist movement. In 1956 they went underground and Phizo creates underground Naga Federal Government (NFG) and a Naga Federal Army (NFA).
  • New Delhi sends Army to crush insurgency in the (then) Naga Hills District of Assam; Phizo escapes to (then) East Pakistan in December and, subsequently, in June 1960, to London. In 1958 Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enacted for Naga Hills District.
  • The Naga National council even proposed to take the issue of Naga independence to the United Nations.
  • The Nagas, the Mizos and the Manipuris began to advocate for independent states, whereas, others asked for greater autonomy. Along with this demand, there arose a strong reaction against the people who had entered the region from erstwhile East Pakistan and later Bangladesh as well as from other parts of India. The local tribals labelled these entrants as foreigners. They claimed that these “foreigners” were interfering in their life-style and were a potent danger to their culture and existence. This gave birth to a demand that the outsiders i.e. foreigners must quit their land. Meanwhile, the insurgents in Nagaland also grew in strength and formed an underground Federal Government and Federal Army to fight for their cause. This was the beginning of the anti-national activities on the national map.
  • It is also known from many confirmed intelligence sources that insurgent groups are receiving funds from foreign countries to prevail disturbance in the region for disturbing the balance of Indian government.
  • Nagaland was created in 1963 as the 16th State of Indian Union, before which it was a district of Assam.
  • In 1964, Peace Mission of Jai Prakash Narayan, B P Chaliha and Rev. Michael Scott to Nagaland, an Agreement for Suspension of Operation is signed with insurgents.
  • Shillong Accord: On November 11, 1975, the government got a section of NNC leaders to sign the Shillong Accord, under which this section of NNC and NFG agreed to give up arms. A group of about 140 members led by Thuingaleng Muivah, who were at that time in China, refused to accept the Shillong Accord, and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1980. Muivah also had Isak Chisi Swu and S S Khaplang with him.
  • In 1988, the NSCN split into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) after a violent clash. While the NNC began to fade away, and Phizo died in London in 1991, the NSCN (IM) came to be seen as the “mother of all insurgencies” in the region.
  • 1995: P V Narasimha Rao meets Muivah and Isak in Paris
  • 1997: Deve Gowda meets NSCN (IM) leadership in Zurich
  • 1997: India and NSCN (IM) sign ceasefire agreement, which comes into effect on Aug 1
  • 1998: Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra meet NSCN (IM) leaders in Paris
  • 2003: Muivah and Isak hold talks with Vajpayee and Advani in Delhi
  • 2004: NSCN (IM) leaders meet Manmohan Singh
  • 2007: Ceasefire between NSCN (IM) and Government of India extended indefinitely


  • The insurgent groups in Tripura were emerged in the end of the 1970s, as ethnic tensions between the Bengali immigrants and the tribal native population who were outnumbered by the former hailing from other parts of India and nearby Bangladesh which resulted in their being reduced to minority status even threatening them economically, socially, culturally which thus resulted in a call of safeguarding tribal rights and cultures.
  • National Liberation Front of Tripura was formed in March 1989. All Tripura Tiger Force  was formed by the local aboriginal tribals in 1990.

(g) Meghalaya:

  • Problems in Meghalaya arise from the divide between tribals and non tribal settlers, identity issues and growing corruption besides the fear of being reduced to minority by native tribals.
  • ANVC: The Achik National Volunteer Council was formed in 1995. Its purpose was to form an Achik nation in the Garo Hills.
  • HNLC: The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, formed in 1992, aims to free the state from the alleged Garo and non-tribal Indian domination.
  • Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) aims to establish a separate “Garoland” for the Garo people. It was formed in 2009.

(h) Manipur Problem:

  • The locally elected government was dissolved in 1949 after the “Manipur Merger Agreement” with Maharaja of Manipur. After Kingdom of Manipur was merged with the Indian Union on 15 October 1949. There was widespread discontent and anger among the indigenous people.
  • Insurgency started in Manipur as early as in the 1960s. India extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to Manipur from Nagaland in 1958. Several clubs and organizations were formed. Subsequently, the government announced that various civil organizations and clubs were illegal.
  • Only after a protracted agitation interspersed with violence, it was declared a separate state in 1972.
  • There are four main insurgent groups in Manipur. They are:
  1. The Maoist Communist Party of Manipur is an ultra-leftist communist party in Manipur which is trying to establish a communist society through violence. It is a successor of the Kangleipak Communist Party (Maoist)
  2. The People’s Liberation Army of Manipur is a leftist organisation which was formed in 1978 with the aim of liberating Manipur from India.
  3. People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak is an armed insurgent group in Manipur demanding a separate and independent homeland.
  4. United National Liberation Front
  • The hill areas of the State, comprising five districts, have been affected by different brands of militancy. From Nagaland, violence by the Naga groups has also spilled over into Manipur, a substantial part of which is claimed by NSCN-IM as part of Nagalim, the proposed unified territory of the Nagas as claimed by the Naga rebels.
  • Kuki tribals in the early 1990s initiated their own brand of insurgency against the alleged oppression by the NSCN-IM. Following ethnic clashes between the Nagas and Kukis in the early 1990s, a number of Kuki outfits were formed.
  • Several other tribes have also established their own armed groups. Similarly, Islamist outfits like the People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) have also been founded to protect the interests of the ‘Pangals’ (Manipuri Muslims).

United National Liberation Front:

  • The United National Liberation Front was created in 1964. It demands an independent socialist state of Manipur. In 1990, the UNLF picked up arms, and its armed organ is known as the Manipur People’s Army.
  • The heavy deployment of armed forces has not mitigated the violence.Deployment has led to more discontent and anger among the indigenous people.

(i) Assam:

  • Assam has been a refuge for militants, for a number of years, due to its porous borders with Bangladesh and Bhutan. The main causes of the friction include anti-foreigner agitation in the 1980s, and the simmering Assam-Bodo tensions.
  • ULFA: The United Liberation Front of Assam was formed in April 1979 to establish a sovereign state of Assam through an armed struggle.
  • NDFB: The National Democratic Front of Bodoland was formed in 1989 as the Bodo Security Force, to set up an autonomous region Bodoland.
  • KLNLF: The Karbi Longri N.C. Hills Liberation Front is a militant group operating in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts of Assam that was formed in 2004. The outfit claims to fight for the cause of Karbi tribes and its declared objective is Hemprek Kangthim, meaning self-rule/self-determination of the Karbi people.
  • KLO: The objective of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) is to carve out a separate Kamtapur State. The proposed state is to comprise six districts in West Bengal and four contiguous districts of Assam which are Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpur and Malda of West Bengal and four contiguous districts of Assam – Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara. The KLO in the beginning was an over-ground organisation which was formed to address problems of the Koch Rajbongshi people such as large-scale unemployment, land alienation, perceived neglect of Kamtapuri language, identity, and grievances of economic deprivation .

(4) Inter State Disputes:

  • Another form of regionalism in India has found expression in the form of Interstate disputes. There is a dispute over Chandigarh between Punjab and Haryana. There are boundary disputes, for example, between Maharashtra and Karnataka on Belgaun, where the Marathi speaking population is surrounded by Kannada speaking people between Karnataka and Kerala on Kasargod and several other border areas between Assam and Nagaland on Rangma reserved forests in Ram Pagani area.
  • The first important dispute regarding use of water resources was over the use of water resources of four important rivers namely Yamuna, Narmada, Krishna and Cauvery in which the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka,Andhra Pradesh Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra were involved.
  • There were many other disputes involving the distribution of the waters of other rivers, but those were of minor importance.In all these cases the state Chief Ministers behaved, like spoke’s men of independent nation and endeavoured to obtain the maximum for their own states. It appeared as if India was a multi-national country.

Regional Inequality In India:

  • (Coverd in General Studies)


Q. What are the impacts of regionalism in India?

Negative Impacts:

  • A serious threat to the development, progress and unity of the nation.
  • Gives internal security challenges
  • Impacts politics as days of collation government and alliances are taking place. Regional demands become national demands, policies are launched to satisfy regional demands and generally those are extended to all pockets of country, hence national policies are now dominated by regional demands.
  • Politics of vote bank based on language, culture, this is certainly against healthy democratic procedures. This always leads to demand for separate state.
  • Developmental plans are implemented unevenly focusing on regions to which heavy weight leaders belongs are benefitted, hence unrest is generated among rest regions. Law and order is disturbed, agitations with massive violence take place ultimately government is compelled to take harsh steps; hence wrong signals are emitted about government authorities.
  • Hurdle in the international diplomacy due to local leaders prefer local interests greater than national interests.
  • (Add more points relted to economic impact, social impact, international impact etc.)

Positive Impacts

  • Sometimes regionalism plays important role in building of the nation, if the demands of the regions are accommodated by the political system of the country.
  • Regional recognition in terms of state hood or state autonomy gives self-determination to the people of that particular region and they feel empowered.
  • Regional identities in India have not always defined themselves in opposition to and at the expense of, the national identity, noticed a democratic effect of such process in that India’s representative democracy has moved closed to the people who feel more involved and show greater concern for institutions of local and regional governance.

Q. Diversity in India gives rise to regionallism but it also gurantee unity of India. Comment.

  • Indians have so much to differ and divide themselves, that no force can become big enough to threaten unity of India. India has seen many secessionist movements since Independence, but none of them was too big to challenge a common resource pool huge democracy. If a particular community rise up against unity it has to be big enough to challenge the whole nation. But no community is that big in India. For e.g. Culture, language, social practices etc. change every few miles in India. And that micro culture is comprised of people from various sects and religion. So it is not possible that a huge part of India find a common ground to fight against unity and integrity of Indian nation.

Q. What is differnce between Multicuclturism and Pluralism? Whih is better for thwarting regionalism?

  • Multiculturalism: The acknowledgement and tolerance of different cultures existing in a single society. Singapore is a classic example of a multicultural society.
  • Pluralism: Beyond acknowledgement and tolerance, pluralism is the understanding, appreciation and celebration of the (diversity of) different cultures existing in a single society. Singapore is a classic example of a multicultural society that should aspire to be pluralistic.
  • Pluralism is best to thwart regionalism.

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