Regionalism- Meaning, Definition, Regional UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : September 21st, 2022

Regionalism, in its true sense, can be defined as the political ideology of some people coming from a particular region or any other sub-national entity. In general terms, the origin can be defined as a particular area that has a population coming from different backgrounds but common political viewpoints. The causes for regionalism range from cultural, historical and geographical reasons. It is also influenced by caste and religious factors. 

Regionalism is one of the most important factors that affect the political mindset of people in a nation. The topic of regionalism is studied in Indian Polity and for the GS1 segment of the UPSC IAS Exam. Below in this article, you will find all the information about regionalism. The aspirants preparing for the IAS exam can get access to the Regionalism UPSC notes and kickstart their preparation in the right direction.

Table of Content

What Is Regionalism?

The meaning of Regionalism in this contemporary world can be explained as an insider-outsider concept in which loyalties to a region of origin are central. A regional movement has the same characteristics as an identity movement except that the demands have some special privileges. People who have been deprived or neglected for a long time tend to assert their regional identity as a remedy for states and their favourable policies toward them.

Geographical and social factors play a significant role in allowing regionalism to appear and enhance itself. But it should also be kept in mind that regionalism can be a result of various disputes and bitterness among the regions. For example, disputes related to river waters in India.

Definition Of Regionalism

The regionalism definition can be stated as " Regionalism is the doctrine carved by the pursuits of political pursuits that favours the interests and beliefs of a specific group, region, subnational entity." The meaning of regionalism range from the influence of caste, religion and geographical factors.

Objective Of Regionalism

The doctrine of regionalism focuses on the ideology of surging the political authority of a region by the influence of the civilians of the particular region. The believers of regionalism claim that the surge in the political power of a particular region will contribute to an increase in the economy by attributing the resources to residents of the region. This leads to the debilitating of the powers of the central government.

Regionalism UPSC Notes

Regionalism UPSC topic comes under the syllabus of Indian Polity. It is essential for the aspirants to comprehensively prepare for this topic to proceed on the way to success. Regionalism UPSC questions can be widely asked in the GS1 paper of UPSC Prelims and Mains exam. For this, to have a thorough revision for the Regionalism topic, you can access the UPSC reference books for Indian Polity and the Study Material. You can also download the UPSC Previous Year’s Question Paper for practice.

➩ Download Regionalism UPSC Notes PDF

The aspirants preparing for the IAS exam must be conversant with the meaning of regionalism and the concept. You can get access to the notes by clicking on the link. You can get an in-depth knowledge of the important topic and solve the questions asked from this topic in prelims and mains exams. It is highly recommended to the candidates practice the UPSC previous year papers and get in touch with the pattern and type of questions asked from this segment.

Regionalism UPSC Mains Sample Question

Regionalism is a wide topic and is mostly covered in the descriptive section of the mains examination. Here is the Regionalism UPSC Mains Sample Question that might help you to have a better understanding of the questions asked-

Question: Regionalism in India is a result of many interlinking factors, concerning this, explain the types of regionalism in India and suggest some suitable solutions to curb this problem and its negative impact.

Types of Regionalism

Regionalism has varied forms, the major three types have been listed here. It is a caved ideology that is motivated by the shared and common interests of a particular group and regional movements.

  • Supra-state regionalism: Supra-state regionalism is where a common interest is shared among the people residing in more than one state. Such a community works to promote the local agenda and regional autonomy. According to the concept of supra-state regionalism, one large state having common interests will have a better chance of success than multiple smaller states.
  • Inter-state regionalism: Inter-state regionalism creates differences among two or more states. The territorial component is contiguous with provincial territories and a juxtaposition of the identities of two or more states. This is also something that is discussed since it undermines the interests of some people.
  • Intra-state regionalism: Interesting religionism comes into the picture when one region or a state stands up to fight for its autonomy, self-identity, and self-reliance. But, since this type of regionalism forces a particular region to be self-dependent, it can be considered a good form of regionalism.

Types of Regional Movements

There are numerous types of regional movements that have been listed herewith. The regional moments that resulted from the regionalism can be subdivided into-

  • Secessionism: It involves the fundamentalist groups advocating the separation of militants. Eg, Isac Muivah’s National Socialist Council of Nagaland, and the Islamic fundamentalist groups in J&K.
  • Separatism: It demands a separate state. Eg, the formation of Telangana, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, etc.
  • Demand for Full Statehood: This demand is accounted from the Union territories. For eg, NCT of Delhi. Such demands are mostly accepted. One such good example is Arunachal Pradesh (former NEFA) and Sikkim got full statehood.
  • The Demand for Autonomy: It results from central political interference, because of which, it is gaining strength since the 1960s.
  • Demand for Regional Autonomy within a State: In this, people of a particular region demand their recognition on the basis of their respective regional identities.

History of Regionalism in India

Regionalism in India founds its roots in colonial policies. The concept of regionalism evolved in India from the difference in British attitude and treatment towards De residences developed regional East tendencies and princely states. Because of the differences, the British economic policies didn’t give much importance to some regions and this resulted in Regional imbalance and economic disparities among them.

It was the time when the Indian national movement gave wings to the idea of a pluralistic India. In 1940, the non-Brahmin movement or properly known as Dravida the moment has already begun because the independent Tamil state was created. Not only the state was created, but this moment also resulted in the creation of parties like the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which demanded the separation of the Andhra region just like the Tamil state.

The wind Demand for different statehood resulted in violent mass in the decades the 1950s to 1960s. Defier for D separate states continued because of the political regionalism that happened because of Sri Ramulu's eventual death.

This became a matter of concern and because of the increasing demands, the state reorganization committee was created. The committee was headed by Faiz Ali. The main idea behind the formation of the particular committee was to properly reinforce the regional stick tendencies. It recommends the reorganization of the Indian states. The states reorganization act, of 1956 turned the idea of creating linguistic states into reality.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Union government came up with the northeastern states reorganization act 1971 which dealt with the demands of separation and statehood by the tribals.

Later in 1986, the status of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were changed into states (prior, they were the union territories). However, the urge for regional deprivation was witnessed because of the idea of creating separate states in the 2000s.

India witnessed the formation of three new states from the existing ones that is Jharkhand from Bihar, Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh, and lastly Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh. Recently, in 2014, Telangana was created as a separate state out of Andhra Pradesh.

Causes for Regionalism

Regionalism in India is a complex phenomenon because it consists of various factors like cultural, economic, geographical, historical, and psychological influences. Let's see them one by one.

  • Cultural and Historical: This could be one of the most obvious causes of regionalism. The people belonging to a particular community of origin can have some glorious history and local heroes from which they derive inspiration, which leads to regionalism with another region or state.
  • Geographical conditions can also prove to be the cause of regionalism as the territorial organization and geographical boundaries of a particular region are symbolic and the people living in that region also develop linguistic homogeneity among themselves.
  • Caste and Religion: Even though India has grown significantly, caste and religion remain significant barriers to growth, as well as the primary causes of regionalism. It is, in fact, generally a secular phenomenon, and it crosses over into class and religious affiliations.

Effects of Regionalism in India

Regionalism has led to the rise of many effects, such as the rise of political parties, the rise of certain political ideologies etc. The effects of regionalism in India have been stated here: 

  • It has led to the rise of new regional political parties, say the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) which demanded the separation of the Andhra region just like the Tamil state
  • The upcoming new political parties can become a possible chance to refocus on certain regional problems.
  • This regionalism sometimes leads to misunderstandings and violence among the classes that disturb the law and order of a particular region or maybe a state.
  • Regionalism is not limited to specific regions or states within India's borders, but it also spreads internationally, as India-Sri Lanka relations remain tied due to domestic politics over the state of Tamilnadu.
  • Regionalism, if considered good for a reason, can be bad, even worse, and cause a threat to national security too. For example, take the Kashmir issue.

Regionalism- A Threat To Integrity And National Unity

Regionalism is a real threat to the sovereignty of India. The country has witnessed some prime examples of negative regionalism. The anti-Bihari or anti-migrant issue of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), resulted in hatred because of which it opposes the employment or any kind of residence of non-state people.

The other example is from Punjab where regionalism has led to successionism because of which the state is witnessing Khalistani terrorism growing there. Not only is it a threat to sovereignty, but it also possesses an effect on national integrity by promoting vote bank politics. Seeing the broader picture, regionalism in principle needs to be considered an antinational phenomenon. However, these regional moments had a good side as well it has given exposure to the local emphases in the field of art and culture.

Difference Between Regionalism and Regional Political Parties

Regional political parties that belong to a specific region or state are not required to be called regional parties. To put it simply, these parties do not adhere to a specific ideology. Any party that has its roots in a region can be considered a regional party, whereas a regionalist party advocates for independence and autonomy in its region.

Due to the limited number of votes and legislative seats received by the regional parties, they may join hands to form political coalitions or be a part of a coalition government. An example of the statement could be the coalition government formed in 1996 when two major political parties, Congress and BJP, worked together along with the regional parties to form the government.

Ways To Mitigate Regionalism

Since regionalism has been considered a threat to the integrity of the nation and creates a political imbalance, it must be restrained and mitigated. There are some ways to curb regionalism, that have been listed here. Take a look at the ways to mitigate regionalism.

  • The sensitisation towards culture and national integrity will help flourish the pluralistic nature of India.
  • The Government must focus on the economically backward communities and provide the basic amenities to them.
  • Promotion of the schemes that promote the integrity of the state such as "Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat".
Other Important UPSC Notes
Human Development Index UPSC NotesCabinet Mission Plan 1946 UPSC Notes
World Economic Forum UPSC NotesGovernment of India Act of 1919 Notes for UPSC
Indian Independence Act 1947 UPSC NotesGoods and Services Tax (GST) Council Notes for UPSC
Kushan Empire & Dynasty UPSC NotesG20 Summit UPSC Notes
Fundamental Rights UPSC NotesIUCN Notes for UPSC


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FAQs on Regionalism

  • Regionalism is simply a type of political ideology that seeks to strengthen a specific political power and influence people in one or more regions. The objective and causes of regionalism range from caste, religion and geographical factors.

  • There are three types of regionalism: supra-state regionalism, inter-state regionalism, and intra-state regionalism. All of them have different focus areas, effects on them, and consequences as a result of it.

  • Regionalism is bad-mouthed, but in some cases, it is of great importance as it has significantly proven to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of the local governments in a particular region. The efficient government chosen by the region will intend to work in the favor of the population and provide them with every security they need.

  • Regionalism supporters frequently believe that regional governments in bodies and political powers are stronger than the central government because regional political parties can directly provide the necessary benefits to the local population.

  • The regionalism definition states that " Regionalism is the doctrine carved by the pursuits of political pursuits that favours the interests and beliefs of a specific group, region, subnational entity." The meaning is influenced by various factors.

  • The ideology of regionalism is based on the rise of the political authority of a region by the civilians in pursuit of establishing and promoting the beliefs, and practices of a particular group belonging to a specific region. The rise in the regional movement leads to the debilitating of the powers of the Central Government.

  • Yes, the candidates preparing for the IAS exam must prepare the topic of regionalism comprehensively in order to solve the questions in the exam with ease. You can practice the UPSC previous year papers to get in touch with the pattern of the questions. This topic is an integral part of the Indian Polity syllabus.

  • You can get the UPSC Regionalism notes by clicking on the link that has been facilitated here. The candidates must have an in-depth knowledge of this topic to be able to solve the questions in the exam aptly.

  • There are various types of regional movements that are influenced by regionalism. Check the list of the numerous regional movement.

    1. Secessionism
    2. Separatism
    3. Demand for full statehood
    4. Demand for autonomy
    5. Demand for regional autonomy within a state
  • There are numerous reasons that cause a rise in regionalism. It is a complex ideology that is influenced by various parameters. The list of the causes of regionalism has been presented here:

    1. Cultural- The shared interests and beliefs of the people belonging to a particular ethnicity.
    2. Historical- The glory of the heroes belonging to the region that motivates the local population.
    3. Geographical- The territories and geographical boundaries also influence regionalism.
    4. Caste and Religion- This still poses a challenge and barrier to the integrity of the State.
  • Regionalism has led to the rise of many political parties and agendas. It can also lead to violence and disturbance. It is also a threat to national integrity and unity.

  • Yes, the rise in regionalism poses threat to the sovereignty of the State. Some negative examples of regionalism have been witnessed such as the anti-Bihari and anti-migrant issues of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Punjab has also witnessed cases of regionalism leading to the rise of Khalistani terrorism.

  • Regional Political parties belong to a specific region or state but they do not stick to any doctrine or specific ideology of regionalism. The regionalist party demands complete autonomy and independence in the region weakening the Central Government.

  • The ideology of regionalism has been considered a threat to the integrity and unity of the nation, rising the political imbalance. Certain ways should be adopted to curb regionalism that is listed here:

    1. Sensitizing the local population about unity and integrity,
    2. Catering to the needs of the economically weaker sections of certain regions.
    3. Promoting the schemes such as "Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat" which give rise to integrity.

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