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The Making of the Region: Perspectives from a Non-Savarna Newspaper (Part I)

The Making of the Region: Perspectives from a Non-Savarna Newspaper (Part I)



P. Thirumal 


karnatakaThis intervention concerns itself with elaborating the administrative category ‘region’. The federal units qualify as administrative regions of the Indian Union. This paper argues that in the initial decades after independence, region(s) tend to be reproduced and affirmed largely through region-state(s) or Indian State practices. Though the prime mover of the region/s in the initial decades is the region-state, the counterparts of the region namely the community and the economy appear to participate in the reproduction of the region in the later decades. This intervention has two sections. The first section deals with some aspects of a generic understanding of the reproduction of region/s in India after the massive reorganization of states in 1956. The supposedly primal autonomous character of the region is pitted against the bureaucratic logic of the administrative region. It appears that the supposedly primal character of the region is generally neither antagonistic nor completely subsumed by the bureaucratic logic. The primal is as much transformed as the bureaucratic logic. The administrative region seemingly surfaces as more inclusive than the former. Space is deployed as an analytical tool to understand the administrative category referred to in this piece as ‘region-state’. The second section elucidates a study related to the reproduction of Karnataka in the editorials of a widely circulated newspaper ‘Deccan Herald’ between the years 1958-83. In this latter section, the state is used interchangeably as region. This study primarily engages with the Karnataka’s demand for adequate communication infrastructure for itself. In the process, the capacity for simultaneously building the regional community and the economy is expressed. The differential material and symbolic articulations of sub-regions apparently display a field of heterogeneous power networks. Notwithstanding the heterogeneity of the region, the region-state does manage to create a regime of power.    


Contexting the Administrative Region

India inherited a State from the colonial rulers. The post imperial State famously referred to as Nehruvian State mobilized a nation in order to substantiate itself. The process of substantiation necessitated mobilization at different levels. This paper bases its central argument on the idea that the state or the administrative region is primarily responsible for the reproduction and transmission of postcolonial region/s. 

Among other things, the drawing of the internal boundaries based on apparently primal collective attributes like language, religion and ethnicity and so on, ensured the inauguration of diverse administrative-cultural specificities. These specificities warrant an imputation of surplus meaning to the administration at the center (Nehruvian state) and at the region (region-state). 

This horizontal shift to maintain an amorphous, incomplete and simmering whole alongside a relatively more distinct fragments/wholes has been an unprecedented experiment in contemporary times.[1]  It has enabled the creation of enduring federal units in the form of administrative regions. At one level, this piece is an exploratory effort to conceptually describe and weave a narrative of the post-colonial administrative regions.      

This exercise seeks to administer the region in a particular fashion. The term administrative is used deliberately to undercut a purely pluralist, culturalist argument and not to understand region as the more intimate, familiar and the authentic.[2] It considers that to lay claim solely to the encrusted meanings of the region latent in its literature, history and tradition is a privilege.

The administrative region produces its own symbolic order which in turn provides a mediated past and more importantly a radical present. The administrative region is superimposed on the pre-existing arrangement of the region. This superimposition transforms both the pre-existing arrangement and the implanted arrangement of the administrative region. The transformation leads to an emergent culture which operates as the official culture of the region. This emergent culture, though hegemonic, is crucial for the reproduction of the post-colonial region.   

It suggests that administrative region has the potential to reinscribe itself as political during the course of its career.[3] The administrative region stands supposedly for the universal of the region. In this sense, the region is mobilized as a homogenous and standardized entity. The history of regions in post-Imperial India suggests that homogeneity and standardization constructed through administrative devices and procedures have generally been open to democratic experiments. 

Generally, in the post-colonial context, regions paradoxically tend to maintain differences that rarely erode the purported whole. Though this attempt to consecrate this supposed homogeneity may not be read as re-engendering a historical force (i.e., in the form of a linguistic or ethnic community) that serves to dismantle pre-existing arrangements, it nevertheless has potential to reconfigure the generative principle that grounds this effort to create a unified whole.

The administrative region is responsible for thinking and mobilizing this unified whole. In a sharper sense, this administrative region is the region-state and the supposedly unified whole is the ‘to be mobilized community’ of the region. The purpose for mobilizing this community in the initial decades after Independence was to facilitate the building of a national/regional economy.

Development became the trope that was used to mobilize community and legitimate the region-state, establish the civil and ‘civilize’ the pre-existing forms of life. The symbolic weaving of materiality which has been aptly phrased ‘in pursuit of lakshmi’, provided the ontic frame for the region/nation in the early decades after Independence.[4] It is precisely in this manner that the administrative region/s need not necessarily subvert the “life-world” of the region/s.[5] The desire of region-state or nation-state to pursue Lakshmi (or in academic parlance known as capitalistic modernity) has not generally deterred the life world of the region.[6]

 If India is deeply religious, can region/s be far behind? If India is astoundingly mobilized, can region/s be far behind? These debates center around whether the nation is deeply religious or political.[7] It is in this peculiar manner that the object region as an administered entity acquires a possibility of opening itself to a more distinct epistemic and ontological enquiry.[8]

India has broadly two levels of governance. The government at the national level is the nation State and the one at the region may be referred to as the region-state. While the nation has been deliberated upon as an imagined community[9], both the nation State and the region state, the ‘S’ of nation and ‘s’ of region has not been recognized as constructed entities. Indeed, there is a case for arguing that both the federal and the regional administrative units state/s are imagined entities.[10] This paper suggests that the biography of post-colonial regions is actually the biography of region states. It may be crudely termed as ‘spatialising the state’ approach towards understanding the category called region.[11] More specifically, it is an attempt to spatialise the region-state rather than the nation-state.[12]

It is not the concern of this paper to trace the constructed character of the nation State but only in so far as it impacts on the consecration of region state/s.[13] In the discourses of the time, the idea that the nation-State symbolized universal interest did not necessarily suggest that region-states were expressions of particular interests.[14] The reorganization of states (1956) exemplified a situation where recognizable particulars in the form of language, religion, ethnicity etc., were to be articulated as universals. 

The ‘stability’ of federal institutions in India over the last six decades is of enormous import.[15] One of the ways of understanding this import is to examine the reproduction of regions, the reproduction of region-state, community and economy over this period.  This paper suggests that the principal agent of reproduction of the region is the region-state itself. Further, this principal agent in the initial decades after independence not only reproduces and affirms itself but also in a sense reproduces the community and the economy.

Since, the central institution of region appears to be the region-state, there is a need to conceptually describe the region-state. The region-state like the nation-state embodies the aspiration of all interests. It subsumes the various sub-regions within the region and contains both the community and the economy. It is precisely in this sense, it can be construed that the state is not community centric and represents a supposedly higher social integration. It represents the universal within the region though it is subsumed by the universal of the nation-state at another plane.

It is possible to recognise the arrival of the postcolonial[16] region/s as a compromise between its corporate and the communitarian dimension. An immediate reason for overplaying this neat dichotomy between the corporate and the communitarian[17] was the enormous tragedy encountered due to the division of the country on communal lines.[18] The constituting of several committees by the nascent Indian State immediately after Independence suggests that if it had to admit to itself that apart from conceiving a national community there was a need to recognise and imagine a lateral community known as regional community on non-communal lines.

The Nehruvian era signified the imagined economy which in turn involved a struggle over nature to produce an economy and erect an iniquitous futuristic society.[19] If the Nehruvian State signified a nation/region of producers perfectly in consonance with a Newtonian physicalist world, then the need for a transcendent meaning of the region/nation appears to be not completely incommensurable.[20] However, the purpose of the nation-State and the region-state/s were to mark a cultural shift from a non-Newtonian world to a Newtonian world. This material and ideological move came to be understood loosely as the ideology of development or the developmentalist state.   

A retrospective look at the state of affairs of modern independent India in the formative years would reveal that the Indian State apparently imagined the nation as a modern enterprise and not as one based on identities like religion, language and caste. In the same spirit, the Indian State appears to have emphasised the corporate character of the ‘region’ rather than the communitarian dimension of ‘region’ in its inauguration of the internal political divisions of the country in 1956.

The region-state was to anchor this community in order to create a space for accumulation.  This is imitative of the nation-State imagining/planning the nation for establishing Nehru’s ‘modern temples of India’. The real temples of India were theoretically displaced on to these novel places of worship erected by the supposedly secular interlocutors.

Regions were constituted to embrace the new creed and a non-sacral human geography. Over the several decades, it is possible to conjecture that various regions imbibed the new creed with or without altering their associational patterns and social ties. In some instances, the embrace reinvented non-negotiable social ties that occasionally threatened the theatre of civic existence.[21] 

The reproduction of regions entails the articulation of diverse interests and particulars. If in South India, language became the basis for drawing the internal boundaries, in other parts of India, ethnicity or religion may have been associated with the demand for statehood. How these various demands, which are actually particularistic, get translated as the interests of everybody in the region needs attention.  

It is possible to theoretically grasp language, religion, ethnicity as reflective of particulars and state/s as representative of interests of higher order. Region-states are constructed entities and they embark with a particular vision which is made socially legitimate through specific imaginative and symbolic devices. One of the concerns of this paper is to suggest that attention need to be focused on these particular imaginative and symbolic devices. 

Theoretically, these devices in the form of state practices reproduce region less as a heterogeneous field of power relations but as a regime of power largely within the overarching regime of power of the nation-State. Like the nation-State which is admitted to be above the national community, the region-state is considered to be above the region-community. This principle of the state is known as verticality. This principle works along with another principle called encompassment. Encompassment refers to region-state being accorded the apex position in respect to various sub-regions within the region even as it occupies a subordinate position in relation to nation-state.[22]

Verticality subsumes not only community but also the economy of the region. Since, economy has been the driving motif of the Nehruvian Nation State, it became almost an edifice around which the internal political divisions were to be conceived. During the height of the planning era, most region-states symbolized the economy of the region.[23] Among other things, the basis of center-state relations and by default relations among region-states revolved around economy. In fact, region-state literally and metaphorically stood for economy. However, after globalisation certain region-states, used economy to signify state rather than state to signify economy.[24]         

Region as an expression of nation, other regions and of itself

Notwithstanding the fact that the establishment of the State’s Reorganisation Commission was a result of a wave of linguistic mobilisation, the Indian State refused to concede to the redrawing of internal boundaries based on purely linguistic grounds. The Dhar Report (1948), JVP Report (1952) and the State’s Reorganisation Commission Report (1956) all confirm to this idea that administrative and economic reasons should be prioritized over cultural issues in the marking of the internal divisions of the country. 

It is in this sense that the study assumes region/s or the internal political divisions of the country as a product of the vision of the Indian developmental State. The developmental State conceived the regions as smaller replicas of the Nation itself. In effect, the regions emerge as an artefact of the Indian State. Further, this artifice gathers a life of its own and acquires a form and a substance as it journeys forth. The most important task for the State was to simultaneously produce its material life and refashion a people as a nation, sufficiently suited for this task. Instances of the incoherence between the imaginations of the region and the nation can be cited in the cases of Punjab, Assam, Kashmir and the whole of North East, which have displayed assertions to secede from the Indian union.

Post-colonial India provides a frame within which regions exist or regions provide a frame within which post-colonial India exists. There are instances where region/s gets framed within a larger region. Many North East states may want to believe that it was Assamisation which cordoned of their careers rather than the process of Indianisation.[25] They were exposed to Indianisation later in their career. In the early years of state formation in Tamil Nadu, the region perceived the nation as symbolic of a hegemonic north Indian, sanskritic and brahmanic. In that sense, the Tamil region contested the nation.

The term postcolonial is used in an impoverished sense.[26] This essay looks at region as a postcolonial formation rather than as a nationalist, colonial or a pre-colonial formation. Interesting scholarship on the late medieval and early colonial period has traced the roots of certain South Indian linguistic regions to this period.[27] It is for this reason that the history of the Indian State and the idea of democracy as it takes roots appears to be more crucial to the founding of these regions rather than the colonial state.[28]

The Indian State drawing on the Congress legacy re-imagines the nation vis-à-vis the regions. But there exists a fundamental difference between the two entities. Region is not a sovereign entity like the nation-State. While the relationship between the nation and the region is vertical in most instances, both these political solidarities are apparently horizontal in nature.[29]

Questions like whether regions cumulate themselves into a nation or nation disaggregates itself into regions, or whether nation comes prior to region or region precedes nation, tend to map region in relation to the larger construct and reality i.e., nation or nation-state. Though, there is a possibility of understanding the region as a political or an aesthetic form on its own terms, this study assumes that the Free Indian State authored the nation initially and the regions subsequently.

It is perhaps true that the Indian State did deploy the resources of the Congress Party for its legitimacy and consent from society. But as the Congress reduced itself from being a movement to becoming merely a political party, the umbrella character of the party disappeared and with it the plural consensus. From the late nineteen fifties, among other things, regions appear as a symbol of lack of consensus for the Congress party to rule India. 

The idea and reality of region/states appear provisional in the text of the Indian Constitution as Article 3 of the Indian Constitution provides for redrawing the internal boundaries of the nation. In some sense, this legal proviso theoretically disrupts the connection between a place and an ethno cultural community. Neither the place is static nor the community associated with the territory.[30]

Presently, there is enough evidence to prove the idea of monolingual nationalities is of European import.[31] Scholarship on certain regions in India has demonstrated that monolingual communities arrived with the colonial rule.[32] This appears equally true for other linguistic regions as well. While the fledgling monolingual communities in South India emerge during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the idea of territorial mapping of the linguistic communities occurs during the Gandhian phase of the Nationalist movement.[33]      

Reproduction of region post 1956

The facticity of linguistic regions arrives after the Re-organisation of States on supposedly linguistic lines after 1956.[34] Though the objective reality of the linguistic states in South India is etched through the formulation of administrative divisions referred to as states, the manner in which the regions/states take roots in the popular imagination needs examination. In certain cases, it appears that administrative demarcation has been based on communal lines. Punjab, Kashmir and parts of North East may be construed as cases belonging to this sort.

In order to affirm the newly constituted region, the state through a variety of signifying practices makes itself and its subjects visible. There are both discursive and non-discursive practices that produce and affirm the region on a day-to-day basis. Gradually, the newly constituted people negotiate with the symbolic and experiential universe of the state by drawing on their resources. In case, if there is no possibility of negotiating with the meaning making mechanisms of the state, then there exists no consent for the production and affirmation of the region.

There are periods in postcolonial history where there has been consent for the affirmation of some regions. Assam, Kashmir and large parts of North East continue to have problems in regional state formation. In South India, except for a brief period in Tamil Nadu, there has been consent for the region state formation.

It is important to briefly detail the content and style of this affirmation. It is possible that a people’s language, religion, caste, class, gender, territory etc., are affirmed in the process of affirming the region.[35] Region is a heterogeneous space.[36] Like any other political space, this space is continuously produced and it is not fixed. Presently, one dominant way of objectively classifying regions is to sort them out as developed or undeveloped in relation to national average or in comparison to other regions. The western state of Gujarat may be pretty high on capital and state formation but when carnage of the kind happens, it is not clear on what grounds the region is being affirmed.[37] In other words, it is difficult to determine the content of the heterogeneous space of any region. 

In order to study the postcolonial region/s, it is perhaps necessary to identify texts and practices that the region-state produces about itself and its people along-with culling out everyday practices that ordinary people engage with, in and through region. It is the argument of this paper that ordinary people have no access to high literature or art but they access images of the region through a variety of popular significations and practices like official architecture, public transport, electricity and water services, formal school education and health services and so on.

The State owned Indian Railway is a trans-regional carrier. For most parts of India, it is the standard carrier of freight and people, of ideas about other regions and their own regions. Though it’s a trans-regional carrier, the extent to which it connects the sub-regions within a region determines the density of communication and commerce within a region. It may be argued in a naïve manner, that the more the commerce between sub-regions, the chances are that there exists a more cohesive regional community. Commerce requires that the language spoken and written attain the status of the language of the market. In some instances, regional state formation may not necessarily require adequate levels of commerce and industry. In some ways, the effort is to suggest that physical communication provides a basis for region affirmation and region state formation. 

It is not clear how the railways have annihilated distance for some regions and increased the distance for some regions due to its non-availability. The absence of Indian Railways in most parts of North East has left only the constantly patrolling Indian Army as coercive image bearers of the Nation state. It is the hunch of this paper that the regions belonging to this part of the country have yet to develop a whole array of practices that reproduce and affirm the regions and the nation as well. Tied to this argument is the fact that there is a lack of standard, literary and official language in these regions except for Assam.  

The meaning of the roads in these parts has less to do with any civic or economic gesture but it is connected to the maintenance and surveillance of international borders and therefore it is not tied to the image of the region. Whereas the city of Hyderabad or Cyberabad imagines extending itself outside the territoriality of the nation and not merely out of Andhra Pradesh. The town of Tura in the district of West Garo Hills of the state of Meghalaya remains farther from the nation due to its non-connectivity with the rest of the nation. The meaning of the spruced up roads in Hitech stretch of Hyderabad city is a statement of its entry into the new age of globalisation.[38]  Neither the national capital nor the regional capital provides for road connectivity and state formation in Meghalaya.  

Empirical study of region

So far, a theoretical premise was being proposed. From now onwards, this section aims to understand a limited phenomenon related to ‘media’ and a designated political community known as the ‘region’. More specifically, it seeks to understand and interpret the category ‘region’ referred to interchangeably as Karnataka, through the editorials of a regional English language newspaper ‘Deccan Herald’ over a period of 26 years (1956-1983).[39] The category ‘Karnataka’ in the newspaper appears variously as state, economy and community of the objective region ‘Karnataka’. This study rests on the claim that the expressions and utterances found in the editorials will invoke a world of shared meanings and values of the times towards the construct and perceived reality known as the ‘region’.

The basic objective of the project is to reproduce and recreate the image of the region as guided by sources within and outside the newspaper. The analysis is informed by an interpretative method[40] that is sensitive to both historical and spatial dimensions.[41] It is an effort to conduct a subjective reconnaissance of Karnataka through the editorials of the newspaper.

The central idea of this is to make available a notion of region that is not determined on the basis of language, ethnicity, class, caste, history or territory.[42] Its motivation stems less from an urge to demonstrate the ontological vacuity of the ‘region’. Its desire is to capture the form of the imagination rather than focus on the truth or naivety of the region as it appears in the editorials of the newspaper. The style of its image as rendered in the newspaper forms the material basis for discussion of region.

 Please read Part II of the paper here.



[1] Selig Harrison famously described the initial decades after Independence as “dangerous decades” and prophesied that the Indian State may crackdown due to its enormous diversity.

[2] The term administer is used deliberately to undercut a purely pluralist, culturalist argument and not to understand region as the more intimate, familiar and the authentic. A glimpse of this vision appears inconsistently in Ambedkar’s writing. Vasant Moon writing about Ambedkar’s views on the Federal structure as envisaged by the Government of India Act of 1935 remarks “His solution to the problem of the States is, to regard it not as a political one but as an administrative one”. My own reading of Ambedkar would differ. Somewhere, I seem to get the feeling that Ambedkar considers administration as constituting the political. At this moment, I find it difficult to demonstrate the hunch.

[3] In another context, Madhav Prasad has suggested this formulation. In his seminal work on “Ideology of the Hindi Film”, Prasad observes “Unlike the situation in advanced capitalist countries, where an achieved hegemony manifests itself through the subordination of all internal conflicts to the overall dominance of the state formation, it is my argument that in a peripheral, modernizing state like India, the struggle continues to take the form of contestations over the state form…Through such a re-foregrounding of the state as a political rather than a purely administrative entity this study asserts its continued relevance as a ground for transformative struggles”. Pp 9     

[4] Hindu mythology considers goddess Lakshmi as goddess of wealth. Incidentally, ‘In Pursuit of Lakshmi’ is the title of the book dealing with Indian politics by Rudolph and Rudolph.

[5] Habermas makes a distinction between the categories systemic and lifeworld. Systemic connotes a generally purposive rationality but lifeworld connotes an uncoerced understanding. However, Habermas does not relegate systemic to just a manipulative rationality. I am using systemic and administrative conjointly. Such a position appears possible in Habermas’ reformulation of Weber’s disenchantment thesis. “There is no logical, conceptual, or historical necessity that systemic imperatives must destroy the lifeworld.” In the introductory chapter on Habermas and Modernity Ed Richard J.Bernstein  pp 23 MIT press (1985) Cambridge  

[6] There are exceptions to this assertions. States like Punjab, Gujarat and Kashmir are typical aberrations.

[7] While scholars like Dumont have held the view that India’s primary identity is religious, others like Dirks have held the view that its primary nature has been political. 

[8] There has been nuanced approaches towards understanding the nature of state in India. In the colorful essay, Is there an Indian Way of Thinking?, Ramanujan quips “One has to only to read Manu after a bit of Kant to be struck by the former’s extraordinary lack of universal human nature from which one can deduce ethical decrees like ‘Man shall not kill’, or ‘Man shall not tell an untruth’. One is aware of no notion of a ‘state’, no unitary law of all men. Similarly, the chapter on The formal Subsumption in Madhav Prasad’s “Ideology in Hindi Films”  following a Marxist’s trajectory complicates the nature of the Indian State. ‘I study cinema as an institution that is part of the continuing struggles within India over the form of the state’, pp 9 

[9] See Benedict Anderson’s  “Imagined Communities

[10] See Ferguson and Gupta’s Spatializing states: toward an ethnography of neoliberal governmentality JSTOR 14 APRIL 2006. In this piece, the authors argue that states are imagined in the same manner as nations. But the authors restrict themselves to nation States and not to regional states.

[11] In the appendix to the chapter on “Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field” Bourdieu in establishing the importance of space in the thinking of the state and suggests that it marks a “break with the tendency to think of the social world in a substantialist manner”. He queries “… by accepting the idea of a unified social space, aren’t we committing a petitio principii? Wouldn’t it be necessary to ask about the social conditions of possibility and the limits of such a space? In fact, the genesis of the state is inseparable from the process of unification of the different social, economic, cultural (or educational) and political fields which goes hand in hand with the progressive constitution of the state…”   pp31 and pp 33 in Practical Reason.

[12] For an insightful reading of contemporary state of Maharashtra from this perspective, see Prachi Deshpande’s Writing Regional Consciousness: Maratha History and Regional Identity in Modern Maharashtra in Region, Culture and Politics in India Ed by Rajendra Vora and Anne Feldhaus, Manohar 2006  pp 52-83

[13] In Ideology in Hindi Cinema, Madhav Prasad makes the observation that the form of Indian state is still a contested terrain in the realm of Hindi cinema.

[14] The Objective Resolutions passed before the partition of India gave the impression that the nationalistic elite conceived a federal India with a lot of autonomy vested in federal units.

[15] Many scholars have engaged with the question of the durability of federal institutions. For an encyclopedic view, See Jyotirindra Dasgupta’s “India’s federal design and multicultural national construction” in Kohli’s eds (2001) The success of India’s democracy CUP: Cambridge    

[16] The term post-colonial is used in an impoverished sense. Colonialism is not perceived in a normative sense. Postcolonial scholars like Ashis Nandy see the effects of colonialism as pervasive and encompassing the contemporary moment. The effort of this intervention is to locate the contemporary as providing a rupture to the colonial times. The contemporary itself consists of several presents. It is the heterogeneity of the contemporary that requires elaboration. 

[17] Deploying Richard Sennett’s understanding of the Western city, Janaki Nair in her “Promise of the Metropolis” frames the city of Bangalore as “an incestuous commingling of commerce and religion”. She undoes the neat dichotomy between the corporate and communitarian character of the city.

[18] On explicating Ambedkar’s controversial views on Pakistan, Gail Omvedt observes..  

[19] In his piece, he theorises that the Nehruvian State as being involved in the creation of an imagined economy. See Satish Deshpande

[20] Madhav cites the biographer of Nehru wherein Nehru comes out as a person who is seeking some sophisticated religion that would be compatible with his socialist vision of transforming India through. See Madhav Prasad

[21] I have in mind the capitalistic state ‘Gujarat’ and the commercial capital of the country ‘Mumbai’. Both the region and the city were witness to large scale communal violence.

[22] I have extrapolated the two principles from Ferguson and Gupta’s spatializing states: toward an ethnography of neoliberal governmentality JSTOR 14 APRIL 2006

[23] The first three decades of regional electoral politics seem to have the center-state transfers as its background. In a nuanced critique of public expenditure, Partha Chatterjee and Ashok Sen see the planning process as “an elaborate mechanism of marginal transfers from the core to the periphery- fragmented, molecular, politically supervised, designed to create opportunities for conceding sectional demands and yet producing the ideological effect of a regime of power which is responsive to the popular will.

[24] It is in this spirit that the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Chandrababu Naidu claimed himself to be the Chief Executive Officer of the region-state.

[25] In my fieldwork, respondents in Mizoram frequently told me that their underdevelopment initially was due to Assamisation and not because of the neglect by the Indian State.  

[26] Postcolonial scholars like Ashis Nandy see the effects of colonialism as pervasive and encompassing the contemporary moment. The effort of this intervention is to locate the contemporary as providing a rupture to the colonial times. The contemporary itself consists of several presents. It is the heterogeneity of the contemporary that requires elaboration.

[27] I have in mind the work of scholars like Burton Stein, Ainslee Embree and others.

[28]  In his book The idea of India, Sunil Khilnani (1997) argues that the history of the post-Independent India is the history of Indian State and the idea of democracy. In a similar manner, the career of region/s may be narrated as the career of the region-state and its negotiation with the community that it itself along with the nation-state created. It is not to assume that there are no other resources that the nascent community would dip into.

[29] Rajagopalachari reacting to the vertical nature of the relationship between region and nation called for the formation of a confederation of federations with South and North India as two federations.

[30] For problematising ‘a sense of place being co-terminous with a community’, See Doreen Massey

[31] See Sheldon Pollock the cosmopolitan vernacular Journal of Asian Studies

[32] See Sudipta Kaviraj speaking writing and being

[33] In 1919 All India Congress session, Gandhi in order to broaden the base of the Congress Party, called for the revamping of the Party on linguistic lines.

[34] Among other things the terms of reference for the States Reorganisation Commission included administrative efficiency and economic development 

[35] In another context, Anderson recognises nation at the cognitive level as an empty, hollow concept. But at the experiential level, he does recognise its transcendental meaning.    

[36] The paper is assuming that space is a product of human actions and discourses. It is social in nature. It is premised on the works of post Marxists scholars like Lefebvre, Soja, Doreen Massey etc.

[37] more details on Gujarat carnage.

[38] The former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has developed a part of Hyderabad city as Hitech City. There is a well paved six lane road connecting important educational institutions and IT giants like Microsoft, Wipro and Infosys have their firms in this part of the city.

[39] The category ‘Karnataka’ in the newspaper appears variously as state, economy and community of the objective region ‘Karnataka’.

[40] Anselm Strauss, Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge University Press 1987.  He makes the useful point that theory should not be mechanically applied to data.

[41] Historical interpretation involves the unfolding of succession of events and spatial interpretation involves the unraveling of the simultaneity of events. 

[42] This proposition emerged during the process of investigation.



1. Harrison Selig (1960) India:The Most Dangerous Decades

2. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches Vol 1 (1979) pp xxi Government of Maharashtra 1979 Bombay

3. Prasad Madhav (1998) Ideology in Hindi Films OUP Delhi

4. Rudolph Susan and Rudolph Llyod (1983) In Pursuit of Lakshmi OUP Delhi

5. Bernstein Richard (1985) ‘Introduction’ Richard J.Bernstein ed. in Habermas and Modernity. Cambridge: The MIT Press pp 23

6. Ramanujan A K(2006) ‘Is there a Indian way of thinking’ Vinay Dharwadkar ed. The Collected Essays of A.K.Ramanujan. New Delhi: OUP pp 39

7. Bourdieu Pierre (2001) ‘Practical Reason’ Cambridge: Polity pp 31-33

8. Anderson Benedict (1983) ‘Imagined Communities’?

9. Gupta and Ferguson (2006) Spatializing States: Toward an ethnography of neoliberal governmentality database JSTOR

10. Dasgupta Jyotindra (2001) ‘India’s federal design and multicultural national construction’ Atul Kohli ed. The success of India’s democracy Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp 49-102

11. Nandy Ashis (2010) The Intimate Enemy, OUP, New Delhi

12. Nair Janaki (2006): Promise of the Metropolis, OUP

13. Deshpande Satish (1993): The Imagined Economy in Journal of Arts and Ideas

14. Pollock, Sheldon (1998). “The Cosmopolitan Vernacular”, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 57 (1). pp. 6-37

15. Strauss, Anselm (1987). Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge U.P: Cambridge.

16. Ray, Amal (1988) “The Sarkaria Commission, Perspective and Appraisal” Economic and Political Weekly Vol XXIII (22) pp 1131-1133

17. Harris, John (2002). Politicizing Development: The World Bank and Social Capital Left Word: Delhi

18. Alam, Javeed. (1999) India: Living With Modernity. Oxford U P: Delhi.

19. Deshpande, Satish (1998). “Hegemonic Spatial Strategies: The Nation-Space and Hindu Communalism in Twentieth- Century India” Public Culture 1998, Vol 10 (2): 249-283

20. Soja, Edward (1993). The Postmodern Geography, the Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory Verso: London.

21. Deshpande Prachi (2006) Writing Regional Consciousness : Maratha History and Regional Identity in Modern Maharashtra in Region, Culture and Politics in India Edt by Rajendra Vora and Anne Feldhaus , Manohar 2006 pp 52-83

22. Dr B R Ambedkar (1955) Thoughts on Linguistic States



P Thirumal is faculty in the Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad.

Image Courtesy: Maphill


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