Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ignorance about North Eastern states of India


Big B’s ignorance about North Eastern India has been recently making big news.

But many people like me would not be surprised about these kind of mistakes….I am sure, half of India must be confused about the seven sister states of North East India.

A survey conducted by North East India Image Managers, the group of communication professionals from the North Eastern states, (I am too part of the group) reveals a shocking ignorance of professionals about the North East (NE) states. It is a sad fact that 87 percentages of the working professionals cannot name all the NE states and 53 percentages shared highly negative views of these states.

“It’s a place with insurgency and most unsafe place in the country” or “people with mongoloid features, weird food habit and an alien culture”, were the responds from some who were interviewed in the survey. Surprisingly 30 percent of professionals don’t prefer to work in this region, even if that best suits their career interest. The survey showed how these professionals are preoccupied with some wrong notions and how deeply they are ignorant about NE states.

Infact, I was asked very weird questions by some of my ex colleagues, (especially north Indians) who even didn’t know or care to know even the names of the capitals of the states. How we stay in such insurgence, do people there carry pistol all the time, does some people in village still wear odd dresses like  – leaves, if we eat snakes, dogs etc.

Hundreds of students come every year from the NE to seek admission in Universities all over the country. But, the joy of seeking admission is often cut short by the difficulties faced (particularly in the national capital) like racial discrimination, language barriers, sexual harassment and trouble finding accommodation etc. Many people like to refer the NE people as CHINKIS  as they have Mongolian features.

One of the honored moments for the NorthEastern people was at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010. The Indian contingent was led by Abhinav Bindra, proudly carried our Indian flag. Before him, the lady who was holding the signboard, was wearing the Mizo tradition Puanchei dress. But the leading daily - The Times of India carried a photograph of the Indian contingent in the front page next day, saying “All the teams were led out by girls wearing saris in different styles, except for the Indian team, which was heralded by a girl in a Naga dress.”

Now, though boxer Mary Kom is not the only athlete from the NE to represent India at the London Olympics (another woman archer is Bombayla Devi), Kom's Bronze medal is trying to be a catalyst in bringing attention to this region of India, where big B’s tweet is adding fuel to the fire.

NorthEast India is a vast land with almost 50 million people. Assam produces approximately 55 percent of India’s tea and 60 percent of its plywood and a substantial part of its crude oil. But, the Central Government is not doing enough to develop this region and to bring it on par with other states of the Indian mainland.

Central Government opened its eye recently, when Dragon was at the Bay! Central government put some attention to Arunachal Pradesh, when China was trying to include this beautiful state in its geographical map. The Manipur State Budget is less than the annual budget of one single department under the Andhra Pradesh Government. The government often mentions the presence of many revolutionary groups in these states, but do not try to solve the main reasons behind, like not releasing adequate funds to the region, not looking at the illegal immigration of the Bangladeshies in all these states etc. The Indo-Bangladesh border passes through Assam (263 Km), Meghalaya (443 Km), Tripura (856 Km) and Mizoram (318 Km), where there is enough porosity for illegal migration into the country. These all show that the Central Government is not much interested in the development of the region, but only in the region's Natural Resources.

So, its time, that the Indian Govt. should try to solve the insurgency problems in the region through good will and look at development and genuine concern for the region and its people. Also, the State government representatives, the MPs, Ministers etc. of the region should raise their Voice, explain the genuine issues to the Central Government and try to solve the problems and engross in developing the region instead of planning how to be rich in 5 years!
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