Is India Inching Towards Explosion of Cultural Regionalism?


i. According to Prof. Bendapudi Subbarao, Indian subcontinent evolved into various cultural communities in specific geographies. In his path-breaking interpretation of Personality of India*, he says regions have developed their own personalities during their course of evolution. For example, the rivers Krishna and Godavari have given rise two cultural communities or regions with specific personality- one in the dry upper reaches (Telangana) and the other in tail end fertile delta (circar districts). We know how different  culturally these regions are. Even though all Telugu regions are knitted by language, the sutures are visible indicating that the language failed to erase these cracks. Regional ‘personality’ clash finally ended up in  the demerging of the two regions into two states, Andhra and Telangana.

ii. Now, after demerger of Andhra and Telangana regions, another cultural community, Rayalaseema, which has an uneasy relationship with coastal region, is up against political domination of coastal region. They have begun discovering their personality historically, which incidentally has really been  existing for long hidden. Rayalaseema, though the term is just 90 year old, evolved into cultural region or community, with a distinct personality, because of a factor which Prof Subbarao called “Areas of Isolation”. The isolation has given the region a personality which reflects in their language,culture, food and aspirations. This Rayalaseema personality is now craving attention for a distinct regional identity-whatever might be the immediate reason.

iii. Political journalists and many political scientists recently popularized a concept of smaller states. In fact the demand for separate states is coming from what Prof Subbarao called cultural communities, with distinct personality and it should not be equated with a sterile”smaller states” concepts of journalists and political leaders. These communities are not demanding separate state for administrative concerns. May be these cultural regions are small in extent, but their demands can’t be called demands for smaller states, which can be demolished by the economic argument that smaller states are non-viable. This reductive theory buries the cultural aspiration of the people. Take the case of Vidharbha, Bundelkhand and their ilk. They have been silenced with economic packages. But have these packages removed the personality of Vidharbha or Budelkhand? Their demands are the expression of cultural personalities and are deeply etched in the psyche. May be they are dormant now. But Telangana showed the way for them that the linguistic states are not end of the reorganization of Indian people. The next reorganization looks inevitable, and this may be on the basis of cultural regions making India a bouquet of not just 29 flowers but flowers of hundreds of colors.The expression of cultural regionalism can be seen everywhere in India.Internally,  the people in various geographies are recognized not by their language but by cultural regions such Kodagu, Rayalaseema, Uttarandhra, Pahadi etc. The  day is not far off when these cultural may get transformed  into political because of corruption, domination of developed regions etc. Rayalaseem is all set to carry forward the cultural regionalism set in motion by new states like Telangana.

iv. Is India inching towards blooming of cultural regionalism putting an end to the domination of single species  ie language.

*The Personality of India: Pre and Proto-historic Foundation of India and Pakistan (1958), Bendapudi Subbbarao, MS University, Baroda.

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