Region and The Nation
1980s may be seen as a period of rising regional aspirations for autonomy, often outside the framework of the Indian Union. These movements frequently involved armed assertions by the people, their repression by the government, and a collapse of the political and electoral processes. It is also not surprising that most of these struggles were long drawn and concluded in negotiated settlements or accords between the central government and the groups leading the movement for autonomy. The accords were reached after a process of dialogue that aimed to settle contentious issues within the constitutional framework. Yet the journey to the accord was always tumultuous and often violent.
In studying the Indian Constitution and the process of nation-building we have repeatedly come across one basic principle of the Indian approach to diversity – the Indian nation shall not deny the rights of different regions and linguistic groups to retain their own culture. We decided to live a united social life without losing the distinctiveness of the numerous cultures that constituted it. Indian nationalism sought to balance the principles of unity and diversity. The nation would not mean the negation of the region. In this sense the Indian approach was very different from the one adopted in many European countries where they saw cultural diversity as a threat to the nation.
India adopted a democratic approach to the question of diversity. Democracy allows the political expressions of regional aspirations and does not look upon them as anti-national. Besides, democratic politics allows parties and groups to address the people on the basis of their regional identity, aspiration and specific regional problems. Thus, in the course of democratic politics, regional aspirations get strengthened. At the same time, democratic politics also means that regional issues and problems will receive adequate attention and accommodation in the policy making process. Such an arrangement may sometimes lead to tensions and problems. Sometimes, the concern for national unity may overshadow the regional needs
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