Class 12 Political Science Chapter 8 Regional Aspirations NCERT Notes

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Class 12 Political Science Chapter 8 Regional Aspirations NCERT Notes are provided in a systematic way which will be useful in making your concepts more strong. The notes will cover all the important aspects of the topic, including the definition and key concepts.

Regional Aspirations Class 12 Political Science II Textbook NCERT notes are also an excellent source of information for students preparing for exams. It is also important for students to learn new things so that they can develop themselves.

Chapter 8 Regional Aspirations Class 12 Political Science II CBSE NCERT Notes


Sometimes regional aspirations were expressed outside the framework of the Indian union. These involved long struggles and often aggressive and armed assertions by the people.

In 1980s, some major conflicts and accords in the various regions of the country, especially in Assam, the Punjab, Mizoram and the developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

In this chapter we will study these cases to understand which factors contribute to the tensions arising out of regional aspirations and how has the Indian state responded to these tensions and challenges?

Region and the Nation

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

Democratic politics also means that regional issues and problems will receive adequate attention and accommodation in the policy making process.

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 our nation had to cope with many difficult issues like Partition, displacement, integration of Princely States, reorganisation of states and so on.

Soon after Independence, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir came up.

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.

These events were followed by mass agitations in many parts for the formation of linguistic States. Today’s Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat were among the regions affected by these agitations.

In some parts of southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, there were protests against making Hindi the official national language of the 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. This demand was finally accepted and the States of Punjab and Haryana were created in 1966.

Later, the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were created.

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir comprises three social and political regions: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

  • 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 Hindu ruler, Hari Singh, did not want to merge with India and tried to negotiate with India and Pakistan 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 was a dispute about the status of Kashmir within the Indian Union. Kashmir was given a special status by Article 370 in the Indian Constitution that gave greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir compared to other States of India. The State had its own Constitution. All provisions of the Indian Constitution were not applicable to the State.

Laws passed by the Parliament applied to J&K only if the State agrees.

This special status has provoked two opposite reactions:

There is a section of people outside of J&K that believes that the special status of the State conferred by Article 370 does not allow full integration of the State with India.
Another section, mostly Kashmiris, believe that the autonomy conferred by Article 370 is not enough.

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.

The dismissal of Farooq Abdullah’s government due to the intervention of the Centre generated a feeling of resentment in Kashmir.

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.

Separatism and beyond

Separatist politics which surfaced in Kashmir from 1989 has taken different forms and is made up of various strands:

  • There is one strand of separatists who want a separate Kashmiri nation, independent of India and Pakistan.
  • There are groups that want Kashmir to merge with Pakistan.
  • There is a third strand which wants greater autonomy for the people of the State within the Indian union.

The Centre has started negotiations with various separatist groups. Instead of demanding a separate nation, most of the separatists in dialogue are trying to re-negotiate a relationship of the State with India.


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

While the rest of the country was reorganised on linguistic lines in 1950s, Punjab had to wait till 1966 for the creation of a Punjabi speaking State.

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

After the reorganisation, the Akalis came to power in 1967 and then in 1977. On both the occasions it was a coalition government.

During the 1970s a section of Akalis began to demand political autonomy for the region. This was reflected in a resolution passed at their conference at Anandpur Sahib in 1973:

  • The Anandpur Sahib Resolution asserted regional autonomy and wanted to redefine centre-state relationship in the country.
  • The resolution also spoke of the aspirations of the Sikh qaum (community or nation) and declared its goal as attaining the bolbala (dominance or hegemony) of the Sikhs.

The Resolution had a limited appeal among the Sikh masses. A few years later, after the Akali government had been dismissed in 1980.

A section of the religious leaders raised the question of autonomous Sikh identity. The more extreme elements started advocating secession from India and the creation of ‘Khalistan’.

Cycle of violence

Soon, the leadership of the movement passed from the moderate Akalis to the extremist elements and took the form of armed insurgency.

These 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 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.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984 outside her residence by her bodyguards. Both the assassins were Sikhs and wanted to take revenge for Operation Bluestar.

By this development, in Delhi and in many parts of northern India violence broke out against the Sikh community.

More than two thousand Sikhs were killed in the national capital, the area worst affected by this violence. Hundreds of Sikhs were killed in other parts of the country, especially in places like Kanpur, Bokaro and Chas.

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

After coming to power following the election in 1984, the new Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi initiated a dialogue with moderate Akali leaders. In July 1985, he reached an agreement with Harchand Singh Longowal, then the President of the Akali Dal.

This agreement, known as the Rajiv Gandhi – Longowal Accord or the Punjab Accord, was a step towards bringing normalcy to Punjab:

  • It was agreed that Chandigarh would be transferred to Punjab, a separate commission would be appointed to resolve the border dispute between Punjab and Haryana.
  • A tribunal would be set up to decide the sharing of Ravi-Beas river water among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
  • The agreement also provided for compensation to and better treatment of those affected by the militancy in Punjab and the withdrawal of the application of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Punjab.

However, the cycle of violence continued nearly for a decade. Politically, it led to fragmentation of the Akali Dal. The central government had to impose President’s rule in the State.

When elections were held in Punjab in 1992, only 24 percent of the electors tuned out to vote.

Peace returned to Punjab by the middle of 1990s. The alliance of Akali Dal (Badal) and the BJP scored a major victory in1997, 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 only 4 per cent of the country’s population but about twice as much share of its area. A small corridor of about 22 kilometers connects the region to the rest of the country. Otherwise the region shares boundaries with China, Myanmar and Bangladesh and serves as India’s gateway to South East Asia.

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
  • 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 India 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.

The Naga National Council launched an armed struggle for sovereignty of Nagas. After a period of violent insurgency a section of the Nagas signed an agreement with the Government of India but this was not acceptable to other rebels. The problem in Nagaland still awaits a final resolution.

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 late-comers, 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’.

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.

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