I – proud to be an Indian- North East Indian

July 1, 2010 Off By Mani Padma

I am an Indian- from North East India, more specifically from Assam and in spite of some adverse incidents that are attributed to us as Indians or North East Indians, I am not ashamed nor do I regret being one. Before you accuse me of having separatist sentiments, please hear me out patiently. I am an Indian, was an Indian, and always be one. Nothing can change that, but if I add that I belong to the North Eastern part, it does not make me a lesser Indian. It is as innocuous as saying I am from Anand Vihar, Delhi, or Rajajipuram, Lucknow or Rajaji nagar, Bangalore.Now tell me, is saying : you are from Anand Vihar Delhi : a separatist statement? It is just a …statement. Oh no! I will not go over the top in its praises by saying how proud and blessed I am to belong there. I need not certify that , do I? Well I am contented and satisfied, as satisfied as being an Indian, to belong to the north East.. Of course I do have my “system bashing” moments for both India and Northeast and ‘tch tch’ thoughts but tell me who doesn’t at one point of time or other? Which child does not have an occasional tiff or complains against his / her parents. But that does not end a relationship, does it? And, about the accusation of exploitation and counter accusations of terrorism and aggression, well that is a matter beyond the comprehension of my pea sized brain. The so called “internal policies and politics” is simply beyond the scope of this article but here I would just like to add that – An evil ideation or regressive thought is an individual “thing” and cannot be generalized to any caste , community, state or country. It is of course a different thing if those individuals with an evil mind or regressive thoughts manage to project it as a communal or regional ideology by sheer brute power.- But if the origin is traced, it still remains an individual ideology only.
So coming back to what I originally wanted to say. Yes! Sorry ! I haven’t yet come to my subject. All that I had so far stated was just a build up to what I wanted to analyze today. ( Don’t worry. It will not be a lengthy one)
It is an analyses of the reactions and counter reactions, evoked by the statement “ I am from North East India”
Usually five type / categories of reaction occurs.
First- : Oh reall? ( eyes twinkling, with a huge animated smile) That’s nice Aha! Kamakhya Temple, Assam Tea, Cherrapunji, Tawang .. etc. isn’t it?

Second- : Oh really? ( amazement written large in face) Is it true that there are cannibals? Will we get killed the moment we step over there?

Third – : oh North East! There they eat anything that moves. Backward people!( with a huge mocking smile)

Fourth – So? Duh! Don’t know what you are speaking of and Don’t care.

Fifth – (Benign smile in place)Great!

The first reaction is of course the most encouraging and warm response. It really gladdens the heart to know that he/she does care and is willing to know more about us. Of course here I have to admit that there are some people amongst us , who snootily reply to some one’s eager query of ‘Are you from such and such place?” by a haughty “ I am an Indian” Hell! I know you are an Indian, but my dear fellowman, the other person is not trying to push you out of the greater picture called India. He/She is just trying to appreciate the region you belong to. Nothing bad in that, I think. A vast country with diverse regional and geographical differences will obviously have diverse and unique culture and tradition depending on that. You cannot avoid that but that again does not prevent us from being assimilated into a greater whole without losing our uniqueness.

Now, coming back to the second reaction, it is not malicious but rather of pure amazement and a result of certain misinformation. And though the instant counter response is of shock and indignation at such insinuation, if you come to think of it, the questioner is not exactly at fault. He/ She was just misinformed and there is still curiosity and wonderment to know more about the north east. – He is interested –He / she care.

Third reaction :- is just a declaration by an all knowing soul who was misinformed and one who did not bother to clarify. Counter reaction will be vehement denial (obviously) Some what aggressive (can’t really blame for it) which may sometimes result in a heated argument. But before going full blast on Mr. Know All, just have a look at reaction no 4. Isn’t reaction no 3 better than reaction no 4. Reaction no 4 is a dead end. The person is simply not interested from where you are, what you are, your plus points / minus points. He / she would not care less if you said North East India is actually a part of Timbuctoo. You would be an alien for all it mattered.- And that is sad! Very sad! The connection is lost. Communication blocked. A dead relationship.
In that way reaction 3 is better, in that the person at least cared enough ( though in a negative way) to remember that North East region exists. A little step forward from us to welcome them and he/ she will be there too.
The fifth reaction is an ambiguous one. You really don’t know what the person might have meant. It could mean nothing and he or she had just half ear on what you were saying. It could be the polite version of reaction 4, or it could be- that’s great I would like to know more but you have to start first. But since the person pasted a benign smile on his/ her face, lets give him/her the benefit of doubt and assume that he/she is interested.
So what exactly is my inference from the above. No I am not an expert nor a wise person, but what I feel is a gut feeling or a feminine instinct of the key being information distribution and two way communication. Nothing new , I know but maybe nothing new simply for the reason that this might be the only key.
North East India is an amazing place which has so many fascinating sights, interesting phenomenon, flora and fauna, I mean one can go on and on about it.
Kamakhya temple, a Shaktipeeth and a holy shrine and as per legends this is the place where Godess Sati’s yoni fell after her self sacrifice and Lord Shiva’s dance of destruction. During the Ambubaci in Summer, the menstruation of Godess Kamakhya is celebrated and as an amazing phenomena, the water in the main shrine runs red with ferrous oxide during this period.
Majuli – the largest river Island in the world- The world can you imagine that?
Then the one horned rhino, found only in and only in Kaziranga. The flora – rare orchids uniquely found in the North East . More than 700 types!!
.Mawsynram in Meghalaya- the place with the highest rainfall., Tawang- breathtaking high altitude Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.. And they are just waiting for you to be rediscovered. But only thing posing as a barrier is misinformation about the inhospitable situation. Inadequate information regarding the things of interest – so inadequate that it simply does not excite people. Earlier due to remoteness of the area , the region was unknown, but in today’s technologically advanced age this cannot be an excuse isn’t it? . It will be more our discredit if we can not bring before you the true North East. We are eager to do so, but you have to take a step forward too. Information exchange is a two way process. If we are eager to show you the true North East , so are we to know more about you and your region. and that is possible only when we will be able to communicate without any sort of mistrust or disdain. Nothing separatist in that I guess. It is plain Unity in Diversity. So what do you say? We have taken our first step, are you ready to come forward to meet us?

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