Nationalism vs Regionalism
Regionalism and Nationalism are interrelated concepts, yet they often have different and sometimes opposite meanings. For instance, in Spain “regionalism” is regarded as strongly associated with “nationalism” whereas in Italy, it is generally seen as a synonym of “federalism“.
Regionalism three distinct elements
- Movements demanding territorial autonomy within unitary states.
- The organization of the central state on a regional basis for the delivery of its policies including regional development policies.
- Political decentralization and regional autonomy
Nationalism distinct elements
- Movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation(as in a group of people)
- Build and maintain a single national identity, based on shared social characteristics of culture, ethnicity, geographic location, language, politics (or the government), religion, traditions and belief in a shared singular history.
- Concept of sovereignty.
Regionalism aiming to strengthen the “consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population”, similarly to nationalism.
Nationalism vs Regionalism
The topic of nationalism vs regionalism needs to be discussed under two subheadings-
1). Indian/political context
Nationalism and regionalism have been a burning issue especially in extremely diverse countries like India. It is, infact, a human tendency, to associate oneself with their society and region more rather than the entire nation. Reasons for this are simple- one cannot associate oneself with something one hasn’t really interacted with. We cannot expect a Keralite to have equal amount of interest in what’s happening everywhere in a country in respect to what is happening in his or her state. Same goes for people of all regions.
India is a diverse country. There are significant differences in dialect, clothes, food habits, societal views, political opinions etc, as one traverses west to east and north to south. There is a stark difference in culture, traditions and languages as one traverses from one region to another. This has invariably led to the demand for more and more states as people fail to associate themselves with everyone in the existence of territorially large state with comparatively more diversities. The best example for this is the recent creation of the state of Telangana. On this case, regionalism prevailed so much more than nationalism that entirely new state had to be made to adhere to common citizens’ views.
The cases of clashes due to regionalism at its centre are no new phenomena. Demand for Dravida Nadu, Telangana movement, Shiv Sena against Kannadigas, Kashmir issue, Demand for Bodoland, Khalistan Movement, etc. are all examples of regionalist movement.
It has been seen in India that the Centre is not very fond of segregating the country into more states. There was huge uproar during creation of Telangana too. Our former Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was against this idea of fragmentation of country into smaller states as he believed this affects the integrity and sovereignty of the country. However, with the changing times it is seen that dividing a larger state into smaller one actually helps in its better and efficient administration. Due to increasing pressure from the regional forces, the state of Andhra Pradesh was the first state to be segregated from the Madras Presidency followed by others.
It can be said that the Centre has done commendable job to keep a balance between nationalism and regionalism and has taken adequate steps so that these notions do not get extreme. It has adhered to a balanced approach where it takes adequate measures to ensure the representation of the States while simultaneously not harming the integrity of the country.
2). Regionalism in International Relations.
Regionalism, in context with International relations, mean the cooperation of regional powers to achieve harmonious trade and geopolitical ties with other international bodies. ASEAN, SCO, SAARC, etc. are some examples of such regional ties. They are required so that the world powers might not bully the other weaker nations and subjugate them. It prevents the taking of undue advantages of the weaker nations.
On the other hand, Nationalism banks on jingoism in the International context. It is necessary to keep a check on nationalism as excessive use of it might lead to conflicts in the International arena. It could create hostilities between countries which might lead to economic losses or even cold war.
A nationalistic outlook is followed by protectionistic trade policies, which could debilitate a country’s economy and markets severely. But, retaining one’s own identity in the international arena is also of utmost importance in order to make sure that the country is not taken advantage of. The most recent example of Nationalism is Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again Campaign.
Both nationalism and regionalism are two sides of the same coin. They are both equally important. While one maintains the integrity of the country, the latter brings practicality into play. For any developing nation, both should be given equal importance in a way that it does not hamper the economic growth of the country. This would lead to an efficient administration and would open up various possibilities of maximizing opportunities for sustainable development of the country.
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