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Life Of A North-Eastern; An Identity Wrapped In Slurs

Posted on March 21, 2012 in Specials

By Kaumudi Tiwari:

Fair skin; beautiful, silky, black hair; small, bead-like eyes- an appearance different from that of the North Indian belt is what has cost them their individual identities. The people from North-East India are losing, or to be honest, have lost their identity to the racist slur — “Chin*ky”. Chin*ky is a pejorative term referring mainly to a person of Chinese ethnicity but sometimes generalized to refer to any person of East Asian descent.

Time and again people from North-East India have been targeted through this slur. And it is not just verbal abuse that they encounter. They are subjected to eve-teasing, violent assaults, rape, molestation and even murder. We hear debates on AFSPA so often. The fact that India as a nation, needs to protect the North Eastern territory is asserted repeatedly with increasing insistence. But, what about the North Eastern INDIANS? Issues relating to their security, dignity and well-being acquire a back-seat.

The Indian Capital has proved to be one of the most dangerous places for such people. Their complaints are repeatedly ignored by the administration and the police. Probably because discriminating against North Eastern Indians has come to be accepted by most of us. As a matter of fact, “chin*ky” has come to be used at par with Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi etc. At times we use the slur without meaning to sound derogatory. But the fact remains — we DO sound derogatory.

People from the North Eastern States who come to the capital in search of better opportunities face racial discrimination even at the hands of the police. A report has revealed that 78% of North Eastern population in Delhi is subject to several kinds of humiliation because of their appearance. The project report on ‘North East Migration and Challenges in National Capital: City’s silent racial attack on its own countrymen’ released by the North East Support Centre and Helpline (NESCH) highlights the miserable conditions the natives of North East live in. The report attributes the inactiveness and bias of the officials against the North-Easterners as one of the main catalysts which add on to trouble. “The inactiveness of police officers on duty, who are biased in providing service to vulnerable men and women to racial attack and sexual violence and failing to book the perpetrators have fuelled more crimes against the North East Indian communities in Delhi and the NCR.” The report reads.

In a country which takes pride in calling itself multi-lingual and diverse, it is a real shame that we have reached a stage where we need to think ways of merging North East people to the mainstream society. But, the fact remains, we do need to think of solutions to this problem and practice those solutions. The first step towards erasing this India-North East India divide is to take strictest possible actions against the perpetrators of physical and mental assault on the North Eastern people. Slurs like chi*ky are now- a-days being used even by little kids. This word needs to be seen as a swear word and people should be discouraged from using it. This may not act as a practical solution to this problem, but it will act as a step towards a change in mind-set of the people. Helplines for Indians from North East should be active 24X7 and should provide people with useful help and advice.