Sinlung /
15 April 2013

North-East exodus: Time for Mainland India to embrace diversities

(Northeast students who…)
By Harish Nambiar

me: aah...did you like it?

Friend: yes makes me proud of Kima and his sensitivity and the Mumbai police becharey unko kya maloom ki North Eastern and Nepali mein phark hota hai

me: Yes...
precisely my point...
It is great charge people with being racist...without taking into account that racism's Indian equivalent is casteism ...

Friend: hmmm..

me: THIS word itself has been brought out by folks who have ONLY western terms to describe Indian situations...often converting Indians' love of fair skin also into a racist preference...
IMHO the cop was NOT being racist... or even abusing... definitely...

Friend: but??
me: he is guilty of using a fairly regular slur for a regional sect of people...
Friend: yes
me: BUT....
HIS critics tend to be far more educated than him... and USE language and derision WAY too far above...the standards of living/feeling/sensing/responding... than the constable can or does!
Friend: hmm and therefore?

me: the constable becomes a small element that represents... police, Mumbai police.... and then the Indian government...

Kima...if he was less wise...becomes... another poor, North Eastern victim of racial prejudice..."
That was an online friend; a 66-year-old retired Kumaoni schoolteacher, responding to a heart-warming incident that happened in Mumbai in March and which I had posted on my Facebook page.

Scary Exodus

A Mizo game developer, Kima, had been called kancha, an abusive street name for Nepali waiters and other hotel employees; few know it is considered derisive.

However, the incident had Kima posting on his blog that he would gladly educate the Mumbai police over coffee. As it turned out, some brass invited Kima over, and apologised.

Kima, on his part, accepted that the constable did not know that kancha was derogatorily used for Nepalis or that there were several states in India's Northeast whose people tend to resemble Nepalis more than other Indian ethnicities.

Kima's post cartwheeled across more social media orbits than merely those they directly impact -- the citizens of Northeastern ethnicities in other parts of India and lovers of Mumbai, the city and all that is symbolises in popular imagination.

This traction was aided by the scary social upheaval of August 2012, when 30,000 panic-stricken people of Northeastern ethnicity had scrambled out of Bangalore and several other smaller cities on the back of rumours that they would be attacked in revenge for the attack on Muslims in Assam earlier, in July 2012.

The violence unleashed by Bodos, a largely Hindu tribe, had displaced nearly 40,000 Muslims in Assam and killed 80. But of course, between the events, falls the deadly metro-sized shadow.

Strafing & Treaties
The late-release trigger to light the August 2012 Bangalore tinder was the vandalisation of a memorial for war heroes by several Muslims who were part of a peaceful protest in Azad Maidan in Mumbai.

The vandals, among the protestors who were purportedly protesting the Bodo violence on Muslims in Assam as well as Burmese killings of Muslim Rohingyas, also molested some women constables of the Mumbai police and snatched arms from cops.

This was on August 11. Three days after that, the Bangalore exodus forced the railways to add two special trains to accommodate spiralling bookings past the chicken neck that connects the Northeast region that is home to about 4% of Indian nationals in an area few in the mainland know about and have exposure to.

The panicky situation generated similar, though smaller waves of people, heading back to Guwahati from Chennai, Mysore and Coorg. Since things eased, we have had a fair amount of pious commentary about the alienation of migrants from India's Northeastern states in mainland India, emphasising the old route of greater compassion and understanding.

A lot of these derive their justification from New Delhi's unarguably callous treatment of the subcontinent's primarily tribal Northeast. The Indian army, mostly under the identifiable Assam Rifles, was used as a colonial instrument to subjugate the outburst of idealistic, if geo-politically naive, resistance movements fuelled by identity politics and regional passions considered insurgencies by India when armed, and unheard when unarmed.

Indira Gandhi's aerial strafing of Mizoram in 1966 and her son Rajiv Gandhi's 1986 pact with the Mizo National Front's Laldenga bookended a kind of uneasy peace that descended on the region.
Several other insurgencies bled on, especially in Nagaland where a patchy but lasting 1964 ceasefire held, despite no clear political resolution, but the scenic Northeast was still a fairly more secure geography than it had ever been, when, in 1991, the economic reforms began in mainland India, and initiated an exodus of another, happier sort. More and more educated youngsters moved around the country to places where they were better paid for their skills.


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