Regionalism has been posing a major challenge to national integration in India, It has been traditionally present in India and the adoption of federal structure was also governed by this factor.
However, its emergence as a negative and limiting factor has been a post-independence phenomenon.
The constitution-makers were fully conscious of the need to keep the forces of regionalism under check. They, therefore, provided for a unitary spirit in the Indian federal structure. The mixed system was considered to be a desirable means for channelizing regional forces into the national mainstream. Unfortunately, however, the system did not prove to be very successful in producing the desired results.
The emergence and growth of demands for separate independent states, demands for full statehood for different areas, demands for regional autonomy, and advocacy of regional interests over and above the national interest, today reflect the presence of negative regionalism in the Indian political system.
In a positive sense regionalism means the love for one’s area of living or a particular region to which one belongs. It is something natural. The inhabitants of Orissa love their language and culture, and there is nothing unusual or wrong about it. To secure the interests of Orissa is a natural objective before all the inhabitants of the land. No one can or should object to it.
However, in the negative sense and in its present form, regionalism means love for one’s own region over and above the country as a whole. In this sense a region u taken to mean a particular territorial area whose inhabitants has close social-cultural, links among them. They consider themselves distinct from other areas and their peoples.
When the people of a region make regional and parochial demands on the political system which are opposed to the interests of other regions or the country as a whole, it tantamount to regionalism in its worst form. It poses a big strain upon national integration in India.