Yesterday, I was going through a video shared by Rupam Shyam (a close friend), in Facebook. The video portrayed how people from North Eastern part of the country feel discriminated by the rest of the country. A couple of people came down for the interview also. They complained that they were often teased by being called ‘Chinki/Chinka/Momo/Chowmien’ etc. They described incidents where they felt discriminated. There were a couple of things that came to my mind which I thought of sharing out here.
Firstly the anchor somewhere says that ‘..jinhe aap aur main alag nigahon se dekhte hai..’ or something like that. Firstly, she shouldn’t have generalized the statement. I’ve spent four years of my college in North East, which I consider one of the best institutes for engineering in India. Most of my friends belong to North East. I never felt that people from North East are any different. Of course there may be difference in culture; thanks to Kendriya Vidyalaya, studying where I got habituated to witness different cultures of the nation. I agree that there may be people who actually feel that NEians are from different world, but not all. So, there’s no point in generalizing the statement.
Secondly, the program itself did nothing to provide any solution. They only tried to bring in sympathy. They showed how the parents staying in NE are worrying about their children staying in New Delhi and Mumbai. They covered small clippings where parents were conveying their concern and worries. The interviewees were encouraged to give a message to everyone. There also, no one gave any solution or tried to give one. They only said that they are also Indians and they deserve to be treated equally.
What the program failed to do is, provide solution to the problem. It is my strong belief that the root remains in the fact that there has not been opportunities enough to merge or blend population. And the Govt. and to a certain extent the people from the area talked about are responsible for this. The situation is similar in North East, Sikkim and Kashmir.
The first thing is people who are not from these place are not allowed to purchase land in those areas. They go there only on temporary basis for some work or other. And the places where they are allowed to settle (Allowed to purchase land), the situation is much better. For example Guwahati, Tinsukhia and some other business centers. I think Guwahati, Tinsukhia, Dibrugarh etc are some of the places where most of the people do not discriminate. People who are not from Assam can purchase land and settle there, unlike most of the places in NE.
Secondly, communication. Just due to the fact that reaching different destinations in these area itself is a difficult task, people do not consider migrating to these places. And if they do not migrate, how can we expect to solve the problem. Unless population merges, the differences will always remain and the gap between both the sides will remain forever. When the children from different culture grow up together, study together and become friends, I do not feel that there is any reason why they will discriminate between themselves. Things like inter-cultural marriages will help further.
The inability of the Indian Govt. to provide adequate infrastructure and communication resulted in terrorism. And lack of proper education helped the terrorism to survive for a long time. This also has a great impact on the mindset of the people. The people perceived and still perceive the voice of ULFA, MNF, KYKL, ZRA as the voice of most of the people in North East. Now, inability of the Govt. obviously is one reason. But people taking up weapons in order to solve this problem, is questionable. Everyone knows about the Sikh movement in the 70s. But today, we don’t find anyone from Punjab complaining about being discriminated in India. Why? It’s because, people from Punjab are spread across the nation and people from all over the nation are also settled there. Thanks to the development and opportunities.
Don’t you think North East, Kashmir etc. can also become similar provided we can build up infrastructure, communication and can encourage people from other places to settle down there? And with the merge of population from different culture, don’t you think that people will learn to know each other more and will come closer to each other?
After all, we all bleed red!
P.S. I've used some of my friends' photographs without their formal permission. In case they do not want their photographs to be posted here, they can please email me. I'll remove them at the earliest.