Chapter 8 Regional Aspirations Class 12 Political Science Notes

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Chapter 8 Regional Aspirations Class 12 Political Science Notes

Chapter 8 Regional Aspirations Class 12 Political Science Notes

Region and the Nation

• 1980s may be seen as a period of rising regional aspirations for autonomy aspirations that concluded in negotiated settlements or accords between the central government and the groups. The journey to the accord was always tumultuous and often violent.

Indian approach

• 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 that allows the political expressions of regional aspirations and does not look upon them as anti-national.

• Sometimes, the concern for national unity may overshadow the regional needs and aspirations. At other times a concern for region alone may blind us to the larger needs of the nation.

Areas of tension

• Immediately after Independence, India had to cope up with the issues of partition,  displacement, integration of princely states and reorganisation of states i.e. Jammu and  Kashmir issues political aspiration, North-East had no consensus to be a part of India  and Dravidian movement briefly toyed with the idea of separate country.

• The issue of Jammu and Kashmir was not only a conflict between India and Pakistan but it was a question of the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir valley.

• Similarly, in some parts of the north-east, there was no consensus about being a part of India. First Nagaland and then Mizoram witnessed strong movements demanding separation from India.

• In the south, some groups from the Dravid movement briefly toyed with the idea of a separate country.

• In the north, there were strong pro-Hindi agitations demanding that Hindi be made the  official language immediately.

• From the late 1950s, people speaking the Punjabi language  started agitating for a separate State for themselves.

Jammu and Kashmir

• Jammu and Kashmir comprised of three social and political regions namely Kashmir,  Jammu and Ladakh region.

• The Jammu region is predominantly inhabited by the Hindus. Muslims, Sikhs and people of other denominations also reside in this region.

• The Kashmir region is inhabited mostly by Kashmiri Muslims with the remaining being Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others.

• The Ladakh region has very little population which is almost equally divided between Buddhists and Muslims.

Roots of the Problem

• Before 1947, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was a Princely State. Its ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh want to have an independent status for his state.

• The people of the state themselves thought of themselves as Kashmiris above all. This issue of regional aspiration is known as Kashmiriyat.

• In October 1947, Pakistan sent tribal infiltrators from its side to capture Kashmir. This  forced the Maharaja to ask for Indian military help.

• India extended the military force and drove back the infiltrators from Kashmir valley, but  only after the Maharaja had signed an ‘Instrument of Accession’ with the government of  India. It was also agreed that once the situation normalised, the views of the people of  J&K will be ascertained about their future.

• Sheikh Abdullah took over as the Prime Minister of the State of J&K (the head of the  government in the State was then called Prime Minister) in March 1948. India agreed to  maintain the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir.

External and internal disputes

• Externally, Pakistan has always claimed that Kashmir valley should be a part of Pakistan.

• Pakistan sponsored a tribal invasion of the State in 1947, as a consequence of which one  part of the State came under Pakistani control. India claims that this area is under illegal  occupation. Pakistan describes this area as ‘Azad Kashmir’.

• Internally, there is a dispute about the status of Kashmir within the Indian Union.

• Kashmir was given a special status by Article 372 in the Indian Constitution that gives greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir compared to other States of India. The State has its own Constitution. All provisions of the Indian Constitution are not applicable to the State. Laws passed by the Parliament apply to J&K only if the State agrees.

Politics since 1948

• During most of the period between 1953 and 1974, the Congress party exercised influence on the politics of the State.

• In 1974, Indira Gandhi reached an agreement with Sheikh Abdullah and he became the Chief Minister of the State.

• After the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, the leadership of the National Conference went  to his son, Farooq Abdullah, who became the Chief Minister. But he was soon dismissed  and a breakaway faction of the National Conference came to power for a brief period.

Insurgency and After

• In 1987, the Assembly election took place. The official results showed a massive victory for the National Conference – Congress alliance and Farooq Abdullah returned as the Chief Minister. But it was widely believed that the results did not reflect popular choice, and that the entire elections process was rigged.

• By 1989, the State had come in the grip of a militant movement mobilised around the cause of a separate Kashmiri nation. The insurgents got moral, material and military support from Pakistan.

• Throughout the period from 1990, Jammu and Kashmir experienced violence at the hands of the insurgents and through army action.

• Finally, fair election was held in 2002 in Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference failed to win a majority and was replaced by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress coalition government.

2002 and Beyond

• The president rule was imposed in the state in July 2008.

• Another coalition government (composed of NC and INC) came into power headed by Omar Abdullah in 2009.

• In 2014, a coalition government led by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed of the PDP came into power with the BJP as its partner. After Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died, his daughter Mahbooba Mufti became the first woman Chief Minister of the state in April 2016.

• The President’s rule was imposed in June 2018 after BJP withdrew its support to the Mufti government.

• On 5 August 2019, Article 370 was abolished by the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 and the state was constituted into two Union Territories, viz., Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.


• The decade of 1980s also witnessed major developments in the State of Punjab.

• The social composition of the State changed first with Partition and later on after the carving out of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

• The Akali Dal, which was formed in 1920 as the political wing of the Sikhs, had led the movement for the formation of a ‘Punjabi suba’.

Political context

• In Punjab, after the reorganisation, the Akalis came to power in 1967 and then in 1977. On both the occasions it was a coalition government. The Akalis discovered that despite the redrawing of the boundaries, their political position remained precarious.

• It was in this context that during the 1970s a section of Akalis began to demand autonomy for the region.

• The Anandpur Sahib Resolution was passed at the conference of Akali Dal at Anandpur Sahib in 1973 to ascertain regional autonomy and to redefine centre-state relationship. It had a limited appeal and Akali government was dismissed in 1980.

• Afterwards, the movement launched by Akali Dal took the form of armed insurgency and resolution became controversial. The more extreme elements started advocating secession from India and the creation of ‘Khalistan’.

Cycle of violence

• The militants made their headquarters inside the Sikh holy shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and turned it into an armed fortress.

• In June 1984, the Government of India carried out ‘Operation Blue Star’ code name for army action in the Golden temple in which the government could successfully flush out the militants.

• In this operation, the government could successfully flush out the militants, but it also damaged the historic temple and deeply hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs.

• The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984 outside residence by her bodyguards.

• As a result, in Delhi and in many parts of northern India violence broke out against the Sikh community.

• Twenty years later, speaking in the Parliament in 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed regret over these killings and apologised to the nation for the anti-Sikh violence.

Road to peace

• In 1984, The new Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi initiated a dialogue with moderate Akali leaders and in July 1985 a peace agreement was signed between Rajiv Gandhi and Harchand Singh Longowal (the President of Akali Dal). The agreement known as Rajiv Gandhi- Longowal Accord or the Punjab Accord.

• The cycle of violence continued nearly for a decade and peace returned to Punjab by the middle of 1990s.

• The alliance of Akali Dal (Badal) and the BJP scored a major victory in 1997, in the first normal elections in the state in the post militancy era.

The North East

• The North-East region now consists of seven States, also referred to as the ‘seven sisters’. 

• The region has witnessed a lot of change since 1947. 

• The entire region of North-East has undergone considerable political reorganisation. Nagaland State was created in 1963; Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya in 1972 while Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh became separate States only in 1987.

• Three issues dominate the politics of North-East: demands for autonomy, movements for secession, and opposition to ‘outsiders’.

Demands for autonomy

• Demands for political autonomy arose when the non-Assamese felt that the Assam government was imposing Assamese language on them. There were opposition and protest  riots throughout the State.

• The reorganisation of North-East was completed by 1972 but it did not end the autonomy demands i.e. Bodos, Karbis, Dimasas demanded separated state in Assam and issues were resolved with the grant of some autonomy to these issues. Even ‘Assam Accord’ was signed over the issue of ‘Outsiders’ in Assam in 1985.

Secessionist movements

• After Independence, the Mizo Hills area was made an autonomous district within Assam.  Some Mizos believed that they were never a part of British Indiana and, therefore, did  not belong to the Indian Union. But the movement for seccession gained popular support  after the Assam government failed to respond adequately to the great famine of 1959 in  Mizo hills.

• In 1986, a peace agreement was signed between Rajiv Gandhi and Laldenga. As per this accord Mizoram was granted full-fledged statehood with special powers and the MNF agreed to give up secessionist struggle.

• The story of Nagaland is quite similar to Mizoram. A section of Nagas under the leadership of Angami Zaphu Phizo declared Independence from India way back in 1951.

Movements against outsiders

• The large scale migration into the North-East gave rise to a special kind of problem that  pitted the local communities against people who were seen as outsiders or migrants. These  latecomers, either from India or abroad are seen as encroachers on scarce resources like  land and potential competitors to employment opportunities and political power. This  issue has taken political and sometimes violent form in many states of the North-East.

• The Assam movement from 1979 to 1985 is a solid example of such movements against  ‘outsiders’. The movement was combination of cultural pride and economic backwardness  as it was against outsiders to maintain cultural integration and poverty, unemployment  also existed despite natural resources like oil, tea and coal.

• With the successful completion of the movement, the AASU and the Asom Gana Sangram  Parishad organised themselves as a regional political party called Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). It came to power in 1985 with the promise of resolving the foreign national problem  as well as to build a ‘Golden Assam’.

Sikkim’s Merger

• At the time of independence Sikkim was a ‘protectorate (A state that is controlled and protected by other) of India. Chogyal was its monarch.

• In 1975, Sikkim was merged with India and it became the 22nd State of the Indian Union.

Accommodation and National Integration

• First lesson is that regional as aspirations are very much as part of democratic politics.

• The second lesson is that the best way to respond to regional aspirations is through  democratic negotiations rather than through suppression.

• The third lesson is about the importance of power sharing. It is not sufficient to have a  formal democratic structure. Besides that, groups and parties from the region require to be  given share in power at the State level.

• The fourth lesson is that regional imbalance in economic development contributes to the  feeling of regional discrimination. Regional imbalance is a fact of India’s development  experience.

• Finally, these cases make up appreciate the farsightedness of the makers of the Indian Constitution in dealing with questions of diversity.

• Therefore, regional aspirations are not encouraged to espouse separatism. Politics in India has succeeded in accepting regionalism as part and parcel of democratic politics.
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