Letter to the Editor: We too are Indians

[The recent Nido Tania incident has created quite a stir in the country, especially among the people of the North East. This letter to the editor is the reflection of one such person’s honest feelings when people from the North East fall victim to such cases in mainland India. While, we understand that generalization is not the best way to look at this matter, this letter also provides enough food for thought to us, as well as to every citizen of India.]

 

A few days back a senior friend of my mine whom I befriended during my Internship with Indian Express at Pune dropped me a message on Facebook. The message read “How long will it take to travel all the seven states of North-East? Or should it be one state at a time?”

Since I had always been telling my friend to visit this beautiful corner of India, the enquiry actually made me happy and I tried my best to answer all her queries to the best of my ability.

However from her query one thing was very clear that like most other fellow Indians outside North East she too did not have even the slightest knowledge about this part of her own country, apart from maybe extremists, tea and the one-horned Rhino. Now after I read the message what I was wondering was that whether I am lucky to be born in this unknown part of India where we at least know  that there are 28 states in India, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand  are two different states formed out of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh , Kathakali is the dance form of Kerela and not Tamil Nadu , Garba is the traditional dance of Gujrat and Dhokla, is their staple food, we don’t need any Ekta Kapoor serial to let was know it  or are my fellow Indians outside the region  are unlucky to have not known that these  seven states cover an area of 255,511 km2,  which is about 7 percent of India’s total area or they have a population of more than  44.98 million, which is about  3.7 percent of India’s total population or  one brother State Sikkim is also being added to these seven sisters state or  Paresh Baruah and Parag Das are two different persons, or the  Principal Scientist of the Chandrayan Mission  Dr. Jatindra Nath Goswami, is from Assam or Imphal is the Capital of Manipur and not Nagaland. ????

At a time when the incident of Nido Tania, a young student from Arunachal being killed in Delhi by miscreants is hitting the headlines, such inquiries from my friend once again is making me rethink the fact that what is that sets us apart from the rest of India, in spite of being born in this country and that too to parents who are also very much citizens of this country.  Don’t we cheer when India wins the Cricket world cup in spite of the fact that the selectors have never tried to look in to this part of the region or don’t we celebrate Independence Day in spite of still being dependent on the mercy of Delhi?  Is it our fault that all the top notch IIT’s, IIM’s , and other institute of higher learning are being established outside the North-East and we have to move miles away to fulfill our aims and dreams only to be treated as an outside in our own country? Don’t we celebrate holi; what if my brothers at Arunachal Pradesh celebrate it as Sangken and instead of colour they celebrate it with only water? Many foreigners come and stay at Majuli-the largest river island in the world but sadly how many of my fellows Indians outside North-East atleast know about these priced possessions of their own country? Or for that matter how many of the so called Indians outside North east know that Asia’s cleanest village “Mawlynnong” situated in the picturesque state of Meghalaya, is also in their own country India? They talk about North-East being the land of terrorism, but didn’t incidents like 26/11 happen in Mumbai? You might treat us as foreigners but we have helped a fellow Indian to become the Prime Minister by letting him contest the Elections from the so called foreign land of Assam; and let’s not talk about the other Singh!!!.

They question about our looks and make fun of our food habits but we know our history and geography well and that’s why we never question a Punjabi brother why they keep long hair or wear turban or why a south Indian friend relishes the food made of coconut oil instead of Mustard oil or for that matter why is their skin color dark.?  They might have not studied about North-East in their text books but we have very well read about India. We very well know about Shivaji as much as we know about Sankardev. They might not know about Ranghar or Karenghar or Kangla Fort or Ujjayanta Palace but we very well know about Golkonda Fort in Andhra Pradesh or Dabhoi in Gujrat. They might not know what an Assamese Til Pitha is but we very well know about Pulan Pori or Dal Bati. They might have their own misconception regarding Bihu but we know very well what Lavani is. They might have not heard of The Li-Haroba Festival of Manipur but we are very much aware of Onam and Pongal.  We know all this and much more about India because we are Indians. So, before questioning us about our nationality, about our Identity, it’s them who should question their own knowledge about their own country, its people and places.

We welcome your comments at letters@friedeye.com

1 Comment

1 Comment
  1. Dear Upasana,

    I would suggest you to please drop the hatred towards “other” Indians and rethink the whole thing with a fresh mind. Try to see the matter with different perspectives and you will see that we are equally to be blamed for this. You cannot call a person racist based on his general knowledge. India is such a vast country that it is not possible for anyone to know anything and everything about India. We are all filled with prejudice and ignorance. This is a basic human trait and you cannot get rid of it easily unless you are made aware by someone with a witty remark. It reminds me of a small anecdote that was shared by a friend of mine. Once a in an interstate college fest, a Rajasthani girl remarked about Assam that there is a lot of greenery in Assam and my friend replied, ” It is not like that. Just like Rajasthan is not just about deserts and palaces.”. And they had good long conversation telling each other about their states. I think you also did that by saying that Dhokla is the staple food for Gujarat. Infact, there is huge variety of food and Dhokla is just a side dish.

    Regarding the Nido Tania incident, it was a mishap which could have happened to anyone. There is no need to add a racist colour to it. It has been ages since I last celebrated Independence Day or Republic Day because of the bandhs and it became successful not because of any fear but no one was interested to celebrate it. The only thing I remember is that the roads become cricket ground on that day. Regarding, the IIT and IIM in our region, I have met many people who came to our region to study here and they are doing great work in their respective fields.While IIM-S is ranked 8th among the B-schools in India and IIT-G is ranked among the top 10 Engineering Schools in India.

    I am not a racist because I laughed on Sardar jokes, Malayali jokes, the fish eating Bengali jokes or Bihari Babua jokes. So, what is wrong if they call us chinky? Yes, I do believe that all of us, in some part of our lives came across a racist comment regardless of where we belong, but is it right to generalize it and hate everyone? Shouldn’t we mix up more openly with people around us so that there is only love among us? So, I humbly request you once again to stop this I am better than you attitude and be with the right persons and spread some positivism.

    Thanks for bearing to read the essay sized comment.

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