New Delhi, Jul 28 : Abhijit K. Borah moved here from Guwahati in search of a better future. He says Delhi has a lot to offer and he has no plans to leave the capital, despite it being tagged as the country's "most racist city".
"I won't mind shifting base to another city, provided there are good opportunities. But Delhi always offers opportunities; so till now that thought has not crossed my mind," Borah told IANS.
Sagarika Dutta from Tinsukia, Assam, too calls the national capital her dream destination.
"After completing my 12th grade, I knew I would study here as the northeast isn't good for higher education. My cousins are also here, so I was excited," said the 25-year-old.
A study by the North East Support Centre & Helpline (NESCH) has revealed that 78 out of every 100 people from northeastern India living in Delhi face some sort of racial discrimination, with crimes against women, discrimination, verbal slurs and assault against people from the community emerging as major concerns.
Ever since a 30-year-old man from Manipur was thrashed to death during a brawl with a group of locals in the Kotla area of south Delhi, concerns have once again been raised about the safety of people from the region.
But there are always two sides to every story - if on one hand the capital spells fear and unease, on the other it offers hope and prosperity, northeasterners say.
Luckily for Dutta, she hasn't faced "any discrimination" so far and has no plans of turning her back on the city.
"It depends on your friends circle and the environment you are in. I am a career-oriented person and always wanted to settle down outside my hometown as there is less scope in the northeast for public relations professionals," she said.
Borah says the capital has worked as a magnet for people from the northeast as it offers a plethora of options for them.
If in the beginning BPO jobs worked as the biggest draw, now people from the northeast - Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Sikkim - are getting opportunities in industries like media, hospitality and advertising, among others because of their education, ability to speak in English, smart appearances and willingness to work hard.
"Gone are the days when it was believed that the BPO industry drove northeasterners to the metros. Nowadays, in most of the creative fields like media, advertising, marketing or entertainment, you can see people from the northeast," said Borah.
Over 200,000 people, of whom around 50 percent are females, from the eight northeastern states are in the capital, another NESCH report said.
Worthing Kasar from Nagaland, a partner in a law firm, shifted to the capital to study law. The fact that part of her family was in the city made things smoother for her, but she wouldn't mind living on her own.
"I got through law college and then started working. Even if my family were not here, I would've moved to the city as it has a lot of opportunities," said Kasar.
Kasar added that the preference for people from the northeast is greater in her field.
"I've heard many lawyers saying that they prefer people from the northeast as associates because they feel we are hardworking and honest. In my profession, people run away with clients. So, these qualities are required to avoid this from happening," said the 36-year-old.
Despite disturbing news from the capital, Jenny Thingshung, now a radio jockey and a travel writer, left Manipur and joined a private media institute in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, around five years back.
"Delhi gives great exposure and my sister was already here. But even if I didn't have anyone here, I would've chosen Delhi as it is the best for media," said Thingshung, who worked with a channel as a reporter and then joined a radio station.
For the time being, she wants to earn and build a successful career; so she has no plans of returning to Manipur. But she hasn't completely shut the door.
"There will be a time when I would like to go home, but not right now. When I retire or get settled I would love to go back," she said.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)