The North-East : A Rather Troubled And A Much Forgotten Part Of India [Part 4: Personal Accounts]
By Karmanye Thadani:
The Assamese Hindu classmate of mine, mentioned earlier in this series who watched the World Cup final with me and could not contain his elation at India’s victory, is evidently very fluent in Hindi. Yet, he has been a victim of racist remarks that no fellow Indian deserves. It is true that in Nagaland, cats, dogs, elephants and horses have been consumed as food and it must be noted that Nagaland is a region with not much vegetation and Assam is not Nagaland in any case. However, once in a certain conversation, a Bihari classmate took his case rather offensively by pointing to him and saying – “kutte to ye kutte khate hain” (dogs are consumed by these dogs).
On Holi, another Bihari (I am certainly not anti-Bihari, but just bringing out the facts in these particular instances) rather strangely wanted to especially ‘attack’ him with mud to avenge what the ULFA did to Bihari migrants in Assam. My Assamese friend however, had no love for the ULFA, which has virtually withered away and most Assamese people dislike it now, since the ULFA sought extortions from them, forcibly recruited their children and prevented a life of peace, normalcy and development. I have visited Guwahati and took time to extensively tour the very picturesque and beautiful city, including what was supposedly Sage Vashishth’s hermitage, where Lord Ram and his brothers received their education. The tricolour flies high across Guwahati and whoever you talk to is resentful of the ULFA. In fact, I have interacted with a grandson of an ULFA operative who was subjected to an extra-judicial killing by Indian soldiers, but he too was a strongly patriotic Indian, defending India in online debates with Pakistanis. The reason for the Assamese (except some Bodos) being able to move on is that Assam has historically fallen in the Vedic cultural zone, as discussed earlier.
Next, I should mention a friend of mine, whose mother hails from Arunachal Pradesh and has mongoloid features. He too is a patriotic Indian, has lived in Delhi all his life and is very fluent in Hindi. He was subjected to horrible racist remarks by our hostel warden, a Gujarati, who told a Gujarati student who was hanging out with this friend of mine, in my friend’s presence, to not mix with mongoloids who are ‘anti-nationals‘ and ‘dopers’. My friend, however, has never doped and the people of Arunachal Pradesh have shown exemplary loyalty to India and even boycotted Chinese goods since China claims their region and Arunachal Pradesh has not seen any secessionist movement, even though it hardly gets its due in the national imagination and has experienced backwardness in economic development, and again, their Hindu culture has a huge role to play in the sense of loyalty they have towards India.
This friend of mine is a bright student and along with two other students from our university, was selected on a full scholarship for a summer course on international law in China. My friend, owing to his having been born in Arunachal Pradesh, was given a notorious ‘stapled’ visa by the Chinese Embassy, which did not come in the way of his getting his boarding pass from the airline counter at the airport but was offloaded from the aircraft by immigration officials owing to the nature of his visa. He was keen to go for the course and this sudden turn of events naturally annoyed him and he argued a little with the immigration officials, saying that he should not have got the boarding pass at all in this scenario, to which they retorted saying that he appeared Chinese, was Chinese by heart and was hence so eager to go to China. When he narrated this to me telephonically, it set my blood boiling and I experienced mixed feelings of anger and sorrow. He, however, despite having the intent, has not complained against these officials to the best of my knowledge, though he should have to prevent such a horrible thing from recurring with anyone else.
Also, a Rajasthani friend of mine narrated to me that a female friend of his told him that once while she was on the Delhi metro, a mongoloid girl offered to hold an old lady’s bag in the ladies’ compartment and another woman randomly retorted that no help needs to be offered by foreigners. Ironically, she made the offer in Hindi. Aside from the very obvious racism, these smacks of insanity and lack of logic, for even those who are actually foreigners, but human.
I recall having unintentionally bumped into a mongoloid girl in Delhi and on her turning around, politely apologized, and my courteous tone brought out such a satisfied look on her face, as though perhaps too many men had treated her disrespectfully and indeed, I have read media reports of harassment of north-eastern girls in Delhi.
A Tamilian friend of mine from Bangalore currently pursuing a prestigious fellowship in Delhi tells me how a girl from the north-east who has amazing credentials is ostracized or perhaps she has engaged in self-‘otherization’, which is not a happy story either way. I have heard horror stories of discrimination in terms of room allotment to north-eastern students in hostels and a social tendency to not mingle with mongoloids is quite latent in many of us.
I have also interacted with Gorkhas from West Bengal, who, in my eyes, make a very reasonable demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, owing to their cultural and linguistic differences with the Bengalis and they also feel that will be better for them from the point of view of economic development. However, whenever I have brought this up with some of my Bengali friends, they tend to fume and fret because of their emotional connection with Darjeeling, which would inevitably fall in the proposed Gorkhaland and even call the Gorkhas names without looking at the issue objectively, though I have also come across some other Bengalis more reasonable in their approach to the issue.
By not treating our mongoloid countrymen as our fellow citizens, we only alienate them and increase their antagonism. Let us all make an effort at integration, each one of us and on this positive note, I end this series.[box bg="#fdf78c" color="#000"]About the author: The author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi and has co-authored two short books, namely’ Onslaughts on Free Speech in India by Means of Unwarranted Film Bans’ and ‘Women and Sport in India and the World: A Socio-Legal Perspective’. He is currently working as a research associate in the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), a reputed Delhi-based public policy think-tank. The views expressed are personal.To read his other posts, click here.[/box]