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Saddening Realizations: North East India
|by Ananya S Guha|
As I write this, there is anguish, pain and disbelief. Thousands of students and working people from North East India, who live, work or study in Bangalore are leaving in panic, in apparent fear of living there.
Word has spread, that their lives are in danger.
How has that spread, who are creating such panic, who are the insane behind it? Why Bangalore, which is known to be a friendly, cosmopolitan city, where not only the people of North East flock to for its fairly salubrious climate, good institutions for specialized study and above all its pluralism. But this has happened, and panic stricken youth are going back to their homes, so much so that the Railways are acommodating more trains...
A particular TV Channel that I watched is appealing for calm, and is trying to extirpate all rumours, quoting the Government, Police, Social and Religious bodies. Wisdom is prevailing, the media must play a positivist and socially responsible role in this regard.
I have always been saying that North East India cannot be looked at from any singular point of view. It has eight states and hundreds of communities, the inter and intra community nature of this mosaic is one of its hallmarks and distinct characteristics, because of its overall commonality whether it be hill tribes, plain tribes, Mongoloids, Austric, Indo Tibetan, Tai,Caste Assamese, Bengalis, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, animistic religion, and what have you. It is this mosaic that is the inexorable charm of contiguous cultures or for that matter races, in this part of our country. Yet a singular entity is shown in the North East as a body politic, but not as contiguous and continuous cultures in terms of race, customs, food habits or in broad generalizations of culture.
The ignorance about the geography of this region, is abysmal, and incredible, hence the Region is always portrayed as a single entity, social thinkers always cite the foreign boundaries of this region, to ear mark the 'sensitivity' of the region. What is this sensitivity, in purely politically expedient terms it is: vulnerability to foreign prey, whether in the form of external threats, or fomenting internal dissent to 'destabilize' the region, a word which gains currency now and then.
The example of the ISI is a case in point.
However its pluralistic cultures are never highlighted as an example of Indian diversity in unity but the homogeneity is used to denote it as a 'politico- ethnic' unit. It is this ' singular ' approach, its causality, which has resulted in our crass ignorance or lack of interest in this part of the country. Hence it is a geographical and historical blur, to the rest. The people here want a genuine show of interest in them, their diverse peoples, their literature, their oral tradition, their theatre folk or modern, in short their culture.
Secondly what is more disconcerting as to what happened in Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad, shows that the recent happenings in Assam are the doings of the people of the entire North East. So, the entire Assam is North East, or vice versa? Nothing could be more fatuous, crass and puerile than this.
The TV Channel which was interviewing young men and women are people who not a part of Assam. So any trouble in any state, pertains to the entire region, a concept construed out of ignorance, fallacy and political expediency. This is more saddening, to view these young distraught people interviewed, as if they are all 'responsible' for what is happening in one part of the region, indeed one part of a state. Unless such ludicrousness and incongruities are absolved the 'mainland' will always remain askance, and in an emotional distance. The hiatus will weigh heavily on the country.
I am sadder for this...
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