Social Scientist. v 12, no. 136 (Sept 1984) p. 54.

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Problems of National Unity: Historical and Economic Roots of Regionalism

THE PROBLEM of national unity and the challenge posed by forces trying to destroy the country's integrity must be understood from the standpoint of the working class movement in order to arrive at a correct analysis and understanding. The term regionalism is misleading as it is used in a pejorative sense by the ruling classes and their ideologues. It also does not convey the diverse origins of divisivencss and lumps them all together under a simplistic localism in contrast to an all-India nationalism. Both the democratic aspects of the awakening of linguistic-nationality consciousness and the struggle for equality and blanced development of all nationalities on the one hand, aW the reactionary manifestations of regional chauvinism in the form of linguistic, caste and religious chauvinism on the other hand arc sought to be blurred by the ambivalent term 'regionalism9. The continuous railing against all forms of 'regionalism9 by Indira Gandhi and the ruling party masks a class approach to the problem of national unity dictated by the interests of the big bourgeoisie.

For the purposes of this paper, therefore, we shall take up the growth of regional chauvinism and separatism, identify its class roots and its deleterious impact on national unity. The divisive potential of this phenomenon for the working people and the country must not be confused with the 'regional' expressions of popular democratic aspirations and movements which are an integral part of the struggle for democracy and socialism.

Pan-Indian and Regional Streams

At the outset, it must be pointed out that India is in many ways a unique country from the point of view of the national question. No other country in the Third World has so many major and minor nationalities with distinct languages, cultures and ethnic composition. In the true sense of the term, India is a multinational country. Marxists have correctly stressed this aspect to counter the chauvinistic one-nation theory of the bourgeoisie. But it is not sufficient just to state this multinationality alone to understand the current problem of the divisive

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