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.

 

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Some of My Friends From North East

 

 

Like me, they all bleed red!

 

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!

© Asitav

 

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.

14 thoughts on “We all bleed red

  1. Staying in Assam was one of the bst experiences I have had so far. We all need to change our mindset, if we haven’t done that already. There are problems on both sides of the imaginary boundary, namely, “north east”, that need to be solved by people of both sides. The typical urban mindset, read delhi, sees the people of north east as easy going, inferior and lacking virtues. I even read somewhere that most sexual offenders “feel” that girls from north east don’t mind much about eve-teasing. What the heck does that mean? Then there’s the house-owner’s bunch who feel that every NE kid asking for a rented accomodation is affiliated to the ULFA 🙂 And the stereotype mothers, including mine, who think that there ‘ll be masked gunmen waiting to kill you the moment you enter NE to study or work.

    On the other side, you see groups of NE kids bunched together on every campus, forming a kind of closed society, not interacting much with the other. They need to open up more. Socializng is one of the best ways to prevent hate crimes. And as far as the offences are concerned, the law needs to deal with these crimes effectively and decisively.

    More than maps, the boundaries are in our minds. Go to the NE. Meet the people. They are easy to fall in love with, take my word for it 😉

  2. I have studied engineering @ institute where there where almost 30 pc of the students where from the hills. I have found them to be very simple, helpful and chilled people. Its a shame that other people have such a biased opinion about them, and do not take them seriously. I strongly support your article.

  3. can’t agree more…but i would say this diversity makes India a unique place to live…I think we just need give it some time! Personally I feel disguised by people who distinguish people other then their Deeds. You need to be human first before going on claiming part of a Community, race , religion or Region.

    These are changing time..let’s voice right opinions and Thoughts!
    Let us represent a solid unitied and a clean INDIA.

    1. Indeed we are unique due to its diversity and we have to retain the unity. India since ages has shown the capability. It’s only when a few people for their selfish quest for power, act to create differences. I feel you can throw some light on how in spite of all the adversities, Punjab has come out of the problem to accept and be accepted by the whole nation after the Sikh movement in 70s.

  4. i would rather be a bit critical here….and i find myself apt to be commenting here coz i have spent some good 21 years in the NE. there is a general understanding that NE is the foster child of India and to some extent none can deny the fact.
    The fact though stands that GOI spends a stupendous amount of money for development of NE. one may argue ministry of DONOR came into existence in 1991… before that where was NE… i would rather say NE had a definite identity then with stalwarts like SD, RD, bhupen hazarika, bhaichung stamping their mark in the annals of Indian history… we have lost way though…
    The NE guys are involved in Drug Scene everywhere call it Delhi, Mumbai, Pune or Banglore.. Though we introduced loose T shirt and canvas shoes even before converse was in picture… we have distinct identity for loving and creating music and its accepted everywhere.. we are part of Football, basketball, volleyball, TT, tennis team everywhere…so our identity as momowalas and Chinx are long gone…
    Yes though there is a eye that we eat everything that “flies, crawls or runs”…but its too generic and limited to a very ignorant part of India… and hard to generalize….
    and abt the parents you said… the same is the case wid a bihari parents when their children come to Assam for study….
    it would be serious understatement to say that we are preventing the balkanization of India.
    But the facts stands that 8 states of NE comprise of land area more than MP and our contribution to GDP stands somewhere around 2.5%. Take assam out of it we are somewhere around .9%…. actually we are not the “fostered child of India” we are actually “the pampered one”…. so there is no point fooling ourselves and feeling left out.. rather we must consider doing something substantial…
    Land Laws in India are strict and even a non – marathi can buy land in Maharashtra… they can only buy flats same is the case wid punjab and Haryana….
    pardon me if I am critical here.. but some thinking deep down is required…. correct me ne where if i am mistaken….. gr8 thoughts but somewhere i feel ur a partial here…
    we all bleed red.. and i think GOI is doing enough to bring an air of equality…

    1. Ha. I’m really happy to find people replying to the posts! You may say that I’m a bit partial. I fully agree. I still believe GOI could have done better for actual development. Instead what they did is to secure their positions by concentrating on the requirements of a few representatives (I’d better not call them leaders) of the group. The focus has always been on securing the chair, obtaining the votes. Agreeing to all just for the fear of losing the position. Had they tried for development, had they improved communications, things could have been better.
      Money spent and money spent effectively and efficiently are miles apart. If I blame the locals for this, I’ll also have to blame the donors who failed to check on the leakages and the loose/corrupt audit. I believe that the box should be opened, if we want people out of it. Else, only a few will be able to come out and rest will continue inside.
      Yes, about the parents it’s true. Even my parents were worried. But, that also is due to the fact that people perceive the existence of terrorism in every nook and corner of NE which is not true. Terrorism could have been well avoided or controlled.
      I’m not saying that we are preventing Balkanization. I’m saying that it’s Balkanization is the only tool that has been applied and accepted as a solution to all problems, which has hampered all. It ensures the chair of the Govt. and satisfies the local leaders as they come into power and stop threats. They get immense fund which nobody probably knows how is being or has been utilized. What happens to the common man? Nothing. He remains where he was.
      When I say merge, seriously mean merge. Mere multiculturalism never helps in long term. It only generates what has been called as ‘Protracted social conflict’ which is nothing but a revolt in the eyes of the supporters and terrorism in the eyes of the ruling Govt. ! For eg. in Tibet, the communist Chinese Govt. has pumped in enough population now and gradually, Tibet from it’s core is becoming a part of China; Physically it was, now mentally and spiritually. Had our Govt. pumped in enough populations in NE to merge, I do not believe that many people could have asked for autonomy/separation.
      If on your way to Mausingram, people stop your car with those roped bamboo to collect toll, which even you know is going somewhere but the Govt. and is illegal, you can interpret it in your own way. You can blame the people who are doing it for what they are doing and not working to earn living. Or you can blame the authorities for not providing enough scope for these people to work. Both are responsible.
      See, arguments can continue lifelong. But arguments don’t solve problems. The huge potential as rightly described by you is to be en cashed. Lower contribution to GDP in spite of higher potential can be looked into as opportunity as well as misfortune/mismanagement blah blah. Like for eg. in Bihar, where the situation was pathetic even 6 years back, is now leading the Nation in terms of economic growth.
      Keep replying. I learn a lot from these! Thanks!

  5. I believe we should rather MUST discuss these matters often. I am happy that my dear friend wrote and expressed his views on such a sensitive issue. This article has been a knowledge gain for me as well. We keep ourselves so busy in our domain, that we hardly spare time or thoughts on issues like this!
    Having said all these, i feel helpless that we are confined to only read or write articles…. shining our writing skills, unable to do beyond this. Hands and thoughts tangled.
    Asi… very well written!

  6. Well written Asitav.Rare to see this kind of initiatives.
    I feel, there exists n-number of reasons for which NE is far behind compare to other states of our country. Dirty politics, lack of education, infrastructure and insurgency are among the main issues.

    If you observe closely, many districts of Assam are full of different tribes.
    I have born and brought in a s a small hilly place of Assam (Haflong) , let share some truths about this town .This is a place which is called ‘Switzerland of the East'( wiki) and the inhabitants are number of different tribes and some non-tribals . To name a few tribes are Zeme Nagas, Kukis, Hmars, Bietes, Hrangkhawls, Karbis, Vaipheis, Jaintias and Khelmas and other non tribals like bengalis,assameses, neplais .Until last 10 years all were living happily and the district was developing like any other developing district of Assam. But then corruption, insurgency, extortion, kidnapping, money came into picture. Many tribes started forming their own Jungle party and eventually now all are having their own registered terrorist groups. Even many groups are on cease – fire( means the outfit can roam around freely and govt will pay them for sitting idle) and government thinks they done a fabulous job . But sufferers are the general people over there. All shops need (even a small Pan shop) to them “hafta” .Even they are now a day’s kidnapping doctors.
    For the last 10 yrs the town went to a downfall, half of the non tribals (mostly businessman, engineers, teachers, doctors) left the town or about to leave.
    “Jungle Parties” are doing anything for money, even they are demanding money from their own tribes too. They are killing them , looting them, threatening them demanding money with their organization letter with heading as “charity”. This is not the end, now a day’s many outfits had internal clash and splitting up within their tribes. Now a days we often hear of same tribe one is Hindu outfit and another is Christian .This is because some external organizations are there (don’t want to name them) who at first helps the poor villagers and then they convert them. Even i know once they converted the religion of a whole village and the outcome was worst to imagine. Huge clash within the tribals and many people died. If one tribe kill 5 ppl of another tribe, the later killing 10 and that went for years..
    Money is a dangerous thing, if money comes easily without doing any work and just you need do is some threatening phone calls , why the hell u should work??. So, within a yr guy who was doing “joomkheti” is now driving a Scorpio with “Ray Ban”, and seeing that, other ppl are also following same path. I don’t blame them solely, that might be a survival strategy.
    Now this is the best part and i bet you will like it. Top politicians are earning money from this, you know how???? They showcase this kind of district is a prototype. Crores and crores of money are sanctioned but they never reached N.C Hills (I doubt if those reached Assam too).
    There are many other internal things are happening which is not visible to outside world. Only the people who are suffering know well.
    Same is happing in most of the tribal dominated districts of Assam and other NE states.
    So, you see if you go into the roots the stories are different.Untill and unless the tribes do not understand the importance of their culture, education, and infrastructure anything gone happen.
    They need a revolution and one amongst them need to start that.
    Hope the day will come and a good leader will change the system.

  7. Yes Sen we all bleed red. You knw what, its very disheartining to see people, who belong to NE, don’t want to do anything for places where they have spent their entire childhhod. We all are responsible for it. Can anyone come and say that yes i have done something for NE. We all are happy in our job and busy satisfying our selfish interests.

    1. It is a natural tendency. Negative entropy is a universal law!!! People tend to go for a well settled and established life. Very few want to take the pain to improve the situation.
      I guess, I’m lucky to have friends like you and Spandan who are on the way to contribute to the society neglected by it’s own people.

  8. We generally come across such situations about our friends fron North East.What I feel is that when we call different names to our brothers and sisters fron north east, we reveal a layer of ourselves that is immature and rotten.

    Moreover, the more we mingle with each other and more accesible the parts of NE or Kashmir becomes, the better understanding we can develop about our own country people.

    A good post that both investigates and provids solution.

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