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(The Regional Diplomacy concept)
The terms “region,” “regionalism,” and “regional integration” are often used synonymously in the academe. For instance, one author refers to Pacific Asian regionalization, North American regionalism and regional integration in Europe. Some authors view “regionalism” as the analytically broader term.
REGIONAL INTEGRATION Is a process in which neighbouring states enter into an agreement in order to upgrade cooperation through common institutions and rules.

In international relations, regionalism is the expression of a common sense of identity and purpose combined with the creation and implementation of institutions that express a particular identity and shape collective action within a geographical region. Regionalism is one of the three constituents of the international commercial system (along with multilateralism and unilateralism)
Joseph Nye defined an international region “as a limited number of states linked by a geographical relationship and by a degree of mutual interdependence”, and (international) regionalism as “the formation of interstate associations or groupings on the basis of regions”.3 This definition, however, was never unanimously accepted, and some analysts noted, for example, that the plethora of regional organizations founded at the initiative of developing countries had not fostered the rapid growth of regionalism in the Third World. Other authors, such as Ernst B. Haas, stressed the need to distinguish the notions of regional cooperation, regional system, regional organization and regional integration and regionalism.

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Regionalism refers to an intentional political process, typically led by governments with similar goals and values in pursuit of the overall development within a region.
According to the article 33 of the Chapter VI of the UN Charter, regional bodies are regarded as agencies of the first resort in dealing with disputed among their own members. 15 The preliminary version of the UN Charter stipulated that “the existence of regional bodies for dealing with peace and security should not be precluded”.
The first coherent regional initiatives began in the 1950s and 1960s, but they accomplished little, except in Western Europe with the establishment of the European Community. Some analysts call these initiatives “old regionalism”.1 In the late 1980s, a new bout of regional integration (also called “new regionalism”) began and continues still .
“old regionalism”.

Old regionalism was formed in context of a bipolar Cold War. That time various regions of the world, made an association with the two major power blocks of the world i.e. USA and USSR. This regionalism was done on the basis of their security and economic concerns. This old pattern of hegemonic regionalism was of course most evident in Europe before 1989, but at the height of the Cold War discernible in all world regions.

Old regionalism was created “from above” (often through superpower intervention). It was inward oriented and protectionist in economic terms. It was also specific with regard to its objectives (some organizations being security oriented, others economically oriented). The old regionalism was concerned only with relations between nation states.

“new regionalism”
The New regionalism is taking shape in a multipolar world order. The new regionalism and multi-polarity are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. The new is a more spontaneous process from within the regions, where the constituent states now experience the need for cooperation in order to tackle new global challenges. Regionalism is thus one way of coping with global transformation, since most states lack the capacity and the means to manage such a task on the “national” level.

The new is often described as “open”, and thus compatible with an interdependent world economy. It is a more comprehensive, multidimensional process. This process includes not only trade and economic development, but also environment, social policy and security, just to mention some imperatives pushing countries and communities towards cooperation within new types of regionalist frameworks.

The New regionalism forms part of a global structural transformation in which non-state actors (many different types of institutions, organizations and movements) are also active and operating at several levels of the global system.

In sum, the new regionalism includes economic, political, social and cultural aspects, and goes far beyond free trade. Rather, the political ambition of establishing regional coherence and regional identity seems to be of primary importance. The new regionalism is linked to globalization, as it is seen as reaction to the selectiveness nature of the globalization. So, in future, new regionalism could be basis for multilateralism.

A new wave of political initiatives prompting regional integration took place worldwide during the last two decades. Regional and bilateral trade deals have also mushroomed after the failure of the Doha round .2
The European Union can be classified as a result of regionalism. The idea that lies behind this increased regional identity is that as a region becomes more economically integrated, it will necessarily become politically integrated as well. The European example is especially valid in this light, as the European Union as a political body grew out of more than 40 years of economic integration within Europe. The precursor to the EU, the European Economic Community (EEC) was entirely an economic entity.

Scholars believe that regionalism plays important role in building of the nation, if the demands of the regions are accommodated by the political system of the country.

Impact of Regionalism on the World / Positive Impact of Regionalism
Regionalism is giving strength to the regions which were earlier neglected like Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. The consequences of regionalization are in terms of security and development. For example, SAARC, Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and various other regional groups has been formed for the regional security and development with the cooperation of all the member nations.

It may offer solutions to development problems, which in fact could be seen as a form of conflict prevention, since many of the internal conflicts are rooted in development problems of different kinds.

It helps the regions and the countries within in achieving Self-reliance, with respect to their social development, economic needs, technological needs, etc.

With the help of regionalism economic policies may remain more stable and consistent. As it is, in practice in European Union, though Eurozone crisis is learning for the member nation to create an environment for more predictable and stable economic environment.

Regionalism gives collective bargaining on the level of the region could improve the economic position of marginalized countries in the world system. As in the case of WTO Bali meet, developed countries were hell-bent on Trade facilitation agreement and were pressurizing for doing away of subsidies in developing countries. Then the South Asian countries like China and India, resisted and projected their socio-economic conditions to continue with their present subsidy schemes to their farmers.

Regionalism can reinforce societal viability by including social security issues and an element of redistribution. Ecological and political borders rarely coincide. Few serious environmental problems could be solved within the framework of the nation state. For example, conservation of Biodiversity is closely monitored, poaching and trade of endangered species is easy to check with regional cooperation. Check on emission of greenhouse gases and global warming under common but differentiated responsibilities.

Diversity may make the success of regional organizations problematic. Sometimes, ethnic clashes in some other country of the region causes security challenges in neighbouring countries and destabilize the region as a whole. For example, Fundamentalist approach by ISIS or Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist outfit of the region has serious implication in countries like Iran, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. Even ethnic clashes in Myanmar, Pakistan disturbs the Indian society. As it was observed in case of violence in Assam due to clashes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The growing regionalism is seen as a threat to the multilateral institutions like WTO and its existence and role is being questioned. The growing bilateralism, trilaterlism blocks have serious implication on the effectively of the WTO policies.

In fact, Regional conflicts could be resolved, with the help of regionalism and it eliminates distorted investment patterns, since the “security fund” (military expenditures) can be tapped for more productive use and can give peaceful dividend to the nation as well as to the region.

Regional recognition in terms of state hood or state autonomy gives self-determination to the people of that particular region and they feel empowered and happy. Internal self-determination of community, whether linguistic, tribal, religious, regional, or their combinations, has remained the predominant form in which regionalism in India has sought to express itself, historically as well as at present time.

Regional identities in India have not always defined themselves in opposition to and at the expense of, the national identity, noticed a democratic effect of such process in that India’s representative democracy has moved closed to the people who feel more involved and show greater concern for institutions of local and regional governance. For example- Tripura Tribal Autonomous District Council (TTADC), formed in 1985, has served to protect an otherwise endangered tribal identity in the state by providing a democratic platform for former separatists to become a party of governance, and thereby reduced significantly the bases of political extremism in the state. In such political setup, there always remains a scope of balanced regional development. The socio-cultural diversity is given due respect and it helps the regional people to practise their own culture too.

Karl Deutsch,4 suggested that increased trans-border exchanges and co-operation in technical areas (such as the production of coal and steel) would lead to increased transnational interdependence and in turn create functional spill overs in other realms, essentially allowing the integration process to be driven under its own steam.

Acceptance of regionalism as an effective trade-liberalizing strategy.
Negative Impact of Regionalism
Regionalism is often seen as a serious threat to the development, progress and unity of the nation. It gives internal security challenges by the insurgent groups, who propagate the feelings of regionalism against the mainstream politico-administrative setup of the country.

Regionalism definitely impacts politics as days of collation government and alliances are taking place. Regional demands become national demands, policies are launched to satisfy regional demands and generally those are extended to all pockets of country, hence national policies are now dominated by regional demands. E.g. MSP given to sugarcane, it was helpful for farmers in Maharashtra but it was implemented across all states resulting agitations of farmers belonging to UP, Punjab and Haryana. Meanwhile it sowed seed of defection among ministers and targeting to corresponding minister.

Some regional leaders play politics of vote bank based on language, culture, this is certainly against healthy democratic procedures. This always leads to demand for separate state and it has observed that after creating small states only few political leaders could run efficient government else alliances run government which ultimately makes administration machinery ineffective.

Developmental plans are implemented unevenly focusing on regions to which heavy weight leaders belongs are benefitted, hence unrest is generated among rest regions. Law and order is disturbed, agitations with massive violence take place ultimately government is compelled to take harsh steps; hence wrong signals are emitted about government authorities.

Regionalism, also becomes hurdle in the international diplomacy, as in 2013 we saw how Tamil Nadu regional parties were against the Prime Minister of India, attending the Commonwealth heads meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka. These actions have their direct implication on the relation of India with Sri Lanka or other countries of the forums or in case of Mamata Banerjee not agreeing to Land Boundary agreement and Teesta River Water sharing, when the leaders at centre level were ready to do it.

The regionalism induced violence disturbs the whole society, people are killed, students cannot attend the schools & colleges, tourism cannot be promoted, etc. This impacts the development of human resource, governments need to deploy extra forces to control the situation and it has direct implication on the economy of the nation. Impacted societies remain aloof from the mainstream development and then the regional variations and backwardness is clearly reflected.

On the broader front, it harms India’s status in global arena and becomes hurdle in becoming global power or world leader.

Other than the evolution of regionalism in India and its impact, it is also associated a discussed with the Nationalism and federalism. These two aspects are discussed below.

Sovereignty factor: The integration process in Africa was greatly hampered by fear of losing individual country’s sovereignty. Suffice to say that when a country integrates with others to the extent of forming a monetary union, it means giving up its own currency and adopting the regional currency. Majority of the African countries are identified by their currencies, coat of arms, national anthem, and national flag. There is a feeling that once a country gives up its currency it loses its sovereignty. More so, some countries have very strong economies and currencies and the thought of merging their currencies with those that have relatively weak economies is unacceptable. This therefore means that in as much as the RECs pursue monetary union the need to preserve independence of borders is a hindrance. Suffice to say that majority of African countries are very particular about their borders and any attempts to encroach or even deny them enjoy cross-border business would be rejected.

The classic early work on Custom Unions by Jacob Viner provides a good starting point. 18 Viner argued that the elimination of intra-area tariffs and the stimulation of regional industries through the imposition of a common external tariff would result in trade creation along the principle of comparative advantage as countries specialize around efficient industries, and trade diversion from lower cost exporters to the region. In other words, trade is created by the switch from a high cost external producer to a low-cost regional producer, and is diverted by the shift from a low-cost external producer to a high-cost regional producer. 19 The welfare effects of trade creation are positive, whereas the effects of trade diversion are negative, suggesting that the desirability of regional trade agreements largely depends on the circumstances. Subsequent authors have shown that Viner’s conclusions have limited validity, yet his concepts remain highly influential in policy debates. 20
Much of the work on market integration, however, suggests that success in realising these gains is predicated on a number of conditions. Firstly, integration must appear to be relatively costless to participating members at the outset, making the planning of initial steps very important. Negative perceptions will arise when it is perceived that costs and benefits are being distributed unequally among regional partners, specifically, when the most developed country or countries in the region experience an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of the gains. They become ‘poles of development’, while the less developed countries in the region become ‘poles of stagnation’.23 Planning for economic integration needs to take this scenario into account, and often may need to introduce some kind of redistributive mechanism to allow all member countries to experience similar relative gains from regionalisation.

Another requirement for effective integration is that there must be some convergence in national economic objectives, and both tariff and non-tariff barriers must be reduced in order to encourage higher levels of intra-regional trade.24 In cases where regional members produce little that neighbouring states want to buy, the potential gains from lowered barriers to trade are minimal, as has been the case in Africa, where the failure of integration schemes has been blamed by many authors on the low levels of intra-regional trade present between members in the first place. Other problems for integration schemes in the developing world have been the minimal level of industrialisation in neighbouring countries, which leaves few opportunities for integrating factors of production into common productive processes,25 the existence of significant non-tariff barriers to trade and investment (such as inefficient bureaucracy, licensing and payment systems, corruption, the potential for government expropriation26 and transport difficulties) which remain even after formal intra-regional trade barriers have been reduced or eliminated.27 There is also the growth in the importance of capital flows, which has made the integration of financial markets an additional priority since the original formulation of customs union theory.28
When speaking of the new wave of regionalism, the economic school defines it as having primarily taken the form of what has been called ‘open regionalism’. This is a form of market integration which extends and applies the central assumptions of neoliberal economics at the regional and global level.30 Unlike the old regionalism, which was protectionist, inward-looking and relied on collective strategies of self-reliance, the new regionalism is open, outward-looking and inclusive.31 It prescribes that policy should be directed towards the incorporation of the region into the world economy, a goal best achieved through the elimination of obstacles to trade and investment. Emphasis is placed on export-led growth, and a greater priority is given to extra-regional, rather than intra-regional trade. Thus, integration is consistent with “an outward-oriented strategy that promotes incentives that are neutral between production for the domestic market and export” 32. In line with neoliberalism, the main concern of open regionalism is with economic efficiency or, more broadly, with ensuring economic growth through participation in global wealth creating activities. 33
Market integration and associated theories of open regionalism have tended to be the predominant forms of the new regionalism, during the 1990s, and have dominated the debate in and among major regional organisations such as MERCUSOR and ASEAN during the 1990s. As a manifestation of neoliberalism, however, these kinds of models have come under fire from analysts for their tendency to over-emphasize the potential benefits of neoliberal market reform without considering the often-detrimental effects that rapid liberalisation can produce, especially in developing countries. The literature on the dangers of implementing market liberalisation too early suggests that governments should adopt outward-looking strategies with caution, rather than rushing into them. The tendency of economic globalisation is to transcend territorial states and hence it is unaccountable to elected political officials, or rather, is accountable to unelected market forces.36 Unlike governments, the market is an impersonal force which cannot be voted out of power because of the harm it causes and while market forces certainly hold the potential for significant gains, it should be remembered that when left to function on their own, they often tend to widen the economic differences between lesser and more developed areas. While authors tend to differ on the degree to which the market or the state should be held responsible for the polarising effects of globalisation, there is general agreement in the post-Washington Consensus era38 that a major shortcoming of development policy in the 1980s and 1990s was its ‘one size fits all’ approach – the idea that all economies are fundamentally the same, and that a universal set of ‘good’ policies exist for all countries, no matter how big or small.

Another aspect of open regionalism, which is of particular resonance in light of the mixed record of structural adjustment policies, has been raised by Maljuf, who points out that the tendency of open regionalism to encourage North-South agreements is often motivated by more than the prospect of economic gains. An explicit objective of developed countries is to lock-in Washington-Consensus-style policies through legally binding rule-based commitments in the negotiations on a North-South FTA. Once integration has occurred, it anchors structural reforms which are too costly to reverse, supposedly encouraging risk-averse investors as to the permanence of the developing country’s commitment to free-market principles. While this is generally perceived to be a positive benefit of regional integration, it should be noted that North-South RTAs also bring the risk of locking in a single approach to economic development that has proved, in the case of many developing countries, not always to produce the expected results.39 Also, these agreements could seriously limit the policy space available to developing countries to define and implement development policies in the future.

Furthermore, open regionalism and economic regionalism theories in general fail to consider the importance of political co-operation when it comes to implementing successful and welfare-enhancing regional integration. To reiterate an earlier point on the necessary conditions for effective market integration, some form of political will is necessary before the regional process is started. The main engines where that process is supposed to be driven are trade, the free market and the private sector, but if they are unaccompanied by the support of governments, the regional project is doomed to failure. The process of integration which open regionalism describes – resting heavily on the appeal of a regional economy of scale to local and foreign firms – requires both the maintenance of the rules governing such an arrangement between constituent countries and the harmonisation of domestic policies in order to increase the stability and attractiveness of the regional marketplace for private sector activity.40 In other words, regionalism is not a question of setting loose the private sector and hoping for the best. As Hettne has pointed out, “the difference between regionalism and the infinite process of economic integration is that there is a politically defined limit to the former process.”41 Thus it is important to identify actors and motives outside of the economic sphere that have an interest in regionalisation.

For regional partnerships in the developing world, and especially in light of this volume, a particularly resonant criticism of open regionalism is that the problems of disproportionate gains are often ignored. One characteristic of new regionalism is that many regional organisations tend to be dominated by one partner, to which the majority of gains in the regional project accrue. A very real danger of unbridled open regionalism is that periphery members become subject to increased marginalisation and vulnerability to political and economic manipulation from the regional hegemon. As the literature on market integration suggests, some form of redistribution is necessary, but is often very difficult to decide on. This reinforces the point that explicit political negotiations and a regional political consensus are a necessary condition for successful regionalism.

Accordingly, initial co-operation on the creation of common institutions in non-political (and hence non-controversial) policy areas is, over time, not only deepened, but also widened to include the realm of other connected policy areas. The deliberate design of institutions is seen as the most effective means for solving common problems, and these in turn are instrumental for “the creation of functional as well as political spill-over and ultimately to a redefinition of group identity around the regional unit.”7 Importantly, governments of member states are locked in to the integration process and they have little room to maneuver. The structural and functional implications of trans-border exchanges inevitably coerce national governments into greater degrees of co-operation, coordination and integration. 8
We have seen how regionalism could be good or bad for a nation as well for group of nations. Constitution of India under Article-19, gives every citizen a fundamental right to move around and settle down peacefully any part of the country. And, as citizen of India everyone should respect this fundamental right of every person, avoiding clashes like Shiv Sena does in Maharashtra.

The need of the hour is to develop each region of India, through devolution of power to local governments and empowering people for their participation in decision-making. The governments at state level need to find out the alternative resources of energy, source of employment for local people, use of technology in governance, planning and for agriculture development. The 12th five year targets for “Faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth”, which will be instrumental for balanced regional growth.

The regional blocks like BRICS, ASEAN are developing more negotiation capabilities for economic needs of the region, for climate change negotiations, etc. The dependency on World Bank, IMF for developmental projects is being complimented by the new commitments of the BRICS Bank, New Developmental Banks, etc.

In future, the further integration of the different regions will give every nation due respect and due importance to their needs. Their exotic and unique things are getting exposure at international level and no one will feel left out. The whole world will be a global village with unique regions within.

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