Once upon a time…
North East India was considered to be a remote , back ward region in India but now…
This is an interesting story that one of our members had narrated. She had just landed in Delhi for a job and one day while on a regular chit chat with her colleagues, she, the supposedly exotic creature from another exotic land, had casually, remarked about a Hollywood movie. One of her colleague asked her wide eyed,
“ Oh do they have movie halls over there? “ She good naturedly laughed it off and replied equally sarcastically, “oh no we travel up to Siliguri to watch them.”
But that wasn’t sarcasm from the non NEian, rather it really was a piqued interest. One will be surprised at the vast amount of misinformation, misconception and almost non existent awareness floating over the universe about NE. No! no complains at all against anyone , simply because a lot has been said, discussed , dissected, analysed about it which always bring us to a single conclusion and that is spreading of awareness in any way that suits us. Yeah we aren’t suggesting a campaign of sort, but just an initiative. We admit, our member was in the wrong, in a way when she had retorted wittily instead of enlightening (no matter how witty and sarcastic it might have seemed back then) them better on the situation , but reflex is something which can be hardly controlled.
But as we said that is not the crux of our discussion, instead we would like to bring before you some instances (as we always have tried through the combined efforts of the Fried Eye research team) of emerging success stories from the North East. North East is in the limelight these days as it is fast emerging as a success story in itself with development and success in numerous fields happening in leaps and bounds. And though we are yet to carve the top spot in the dynamics of success, we have already started carving a nice proper niche for ourselves.
If we go by the individual states, then Mizoram takes the cake in being touted as one of the most successful post insurgency peace story. After being in a ferocious conflict with Centre in the past,post the Mizo accord, the state has set an example of being one of the most peaceful state and showed everyone what a secure , contented state can become with little efforts at development from all quarters. Infrastructure has improved. The state enjoys a high literacy rate, declared a dry state (which is a great achievement. Of course there is the occasional lawbreakers, but try doing that to other states and see the result) and is now on its way to becoming tobacco free.
Mawlynnlong, which some years back was an obscure little village in Meghalaya has fast ascended into limelight by becoming the cleanliest village in the world, no mean feat which is. There is hardly any newspaper, daily or magazines, which must haven’t carried a feature on it. The entire credit of course goes to the people of the place itself for achieving this. They have managed to create awareness among the people about cleanliness and also thrust upon them the need to maintain it, which we are sure must be lacking in even most of the urban homes.
Guwahati is an example of prime time boom in commerce, culture, infrastructure and development. It stands fifth in the list of fast upcoming city of India and ranks among the top 100 fast upcoming cities of the world. A little brush up and modification in the municipal and civic layout of the city can make it almost perfect.
Another field where the North East has made a remarkable mark is in fine arts, as in music and literature . We have had some brilliant musicians making it big in Bollywood like Angarag Papon Mahanta and Zubeen Garg. Many young fresh talents from the North East have endeared themselves to the rest of the country as can be seen by the recent successes of talented artists in reality singing and dancing shows. Here one particular North Eastern state that has really come up in the circuit as a music friendly state, more than even Meghalaya which is considered the pioneer of forwarding the international music scene in the region, is Nagaland and the famous Hornbill festival which is one of its kinds. Hornbill festival is unique in its attempt of bringing together and assimilating all the ethnic tribes of Nagaland under one aegis to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the state. A prize money of ten lakhs in the Hornbill National Rock competition , the highest in the country speaks much about the enthusiasm of the Government and other agencies too, It is the state which can boast of having a department solely devoted in promoting music in the state with a wing called the Music task force. Other than that we have had numerous local bands coming up which have regaled us with their offerings. Then there are some innovative thinkers and dedicated musician like Jim Ankan Deka, who not only is a fine musician himself but has had the vision to form an academy for music- The eastern fare music foundation and its subsidaries EFNI and skrybble of which EFNI (eastern fare news international) is a music and culture related portal. He is totally committed towards the North East and diligently promotes various admirable aspect of the NE in his blogs and community fan page in facebook which goes by the name of North –East India . Recently he had also forayed into documentary movie making and had made a much appreciated documentary movie on Nagaland.
Literature too received its due credit by grabbing three awards in the recent Bal Sahitya Purashkar awards which were announced in August 2011 with three winners from north east itself- Bandita Phukan from Assam, Manipuri writer K Shantibala Devi and Bodo writer Maheswar Narzary. Literature which had always been rich and insightful since ages, is undergoing a renaissance of sort in this region with focus shifting on the contemporary writers of today like Aruni Kashyap, Udippana Goswami, Mamang Dai, Jahnabi Baruah, Siddharth Sharma, who have addressed issues on ethnicity and identity and also tackled tough issues like Insurgency and have found admirers galore of their works world over . North East tasted a little bit of commercial and popular success when Harper Collins India published the poetry of Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih recently.
If we speak of cinema, then out of the north eastern states, so far Assam has been the most successful and holds strong promises in the future in Bidyut Kotoky and Jahnu Baruah. But we do have pleasant surprises now and then in the form of Mon Jai for an example, a movie by Moirangthem Maniram, which earned both critical as well as commercial success . Many touted it as a breath of fresh air from the Assam film industry with its current yet universal theme of today’s youth and the society.
Food too is fast emerging as a subject to reckon with the ethnic cuisines of each states of this region catching the imagination of both domestic and international patrons as can be seen the success of the thaalis and also the achievements of Chef Yu Hing Tham from Tezpur and the very much popular Chef Atul Lahkar in the recent times. North Eastern cuisine has certainly carved a solid niche for itself in the international food scene
But we are not measuring success with the benchmark set by the arts and culture scenario only. North East has tasted success in other unconventional fields like science and mathematics to mention a few. Dr. Anupam Saikia (Associate Professor, IIT Guwahati) for Iwasawa theory, Prof. Nayandeep Deka Baruah (Professor, Tezpur University) for Ramanujan’s Math and Dr. Neeraj Kayal (GodelPrize Winner, Microsof Research India, Bangalore) deserve applauds for their achievement in their chosen fields. All three of them are renowned internationally and has contributed majorly towards bringing glory to the region in the field of academics. With their individual efforts they have managed to produce fine mathematicians and brilliant students, who will certainly shine forth in the future. In fact the students have already demonstrated their innovative ideation by bringing out a website called Gonit Sora devoted to mathematics which is certainly a laudable attempt on their part. The site is growing in popularity and gathering an enviable fan following by the hour and is one of its kind.
Even business and commerce which were considered grey areas earlier in the region have picked up and gained momentum in spite of being overshadowed by dark clouds of insurgency. Tourism is the new golden baby of the north east. Suddenly there has been an increased awareness by concerted efforts of individuals as well as organizations and people have started flocking the region. With the improvement in infrastructure in certain cities and towns, north east is certainly turning out to be tourist friendly.
It is not only tourism that has touched a golden patch. The increased awareness of the richness of this region has resulted in expanding markets for handicrafts , handlooms and other ethnic and exotic ingredients like the bhoot jolokia or orchids. Business initiatives like Kuhee for handicrafts, Kraft Inn with its designer bamboo products and Silkalay, the silk house have cracked the key to customer satisfaction, as well as success .In the process they have propagated the positive aspect of the region far out , making North East a trending topic in the national as well as international level.
Even sports have amazed and gladdened the hearts of both the locals as well as others with the unexpected success stories in Mary Kom, Baichung Bhutia, Kunjarani and Dhinko Singh.
Uttam Teron is another emerging success story , not because he has been featured in the Indian media for his efforts, but more because of his dedication and perseverance to impart elementary education to the remote tribal areas through his own sincere efforts. Though it had a modest beginning initially with just four students in his Parijat academy, now they cover nine tribal villages and around 700 students.
Another area of success that has come to our notice is the internet boom of many websites which are currently onto promoting the North East India, be it a web portal or interactive sites or even e zines, but these endeavours have been instrumental in imparting awareness among the people in mass scale and area of focus. What all those years of post independance could not do, has been achieved up to an extent by those web portals. Websites like Enajori, North East India blog etc deserves the credit for their intents and continuous attempts at propagating the true image of the North East. Certain successful facebook community too deserve big round of applauses for their innovation and their zeal for action, noteworthy among which is the North-East India community with a fan following of over 30, 000 and the North East Image managers which had been recently formed. But true to their name, they have really given a professional touch to their attempts by forming a core committee and a general body and going about their business in a no nonsense business like manner. Their group page is a delight to scroll as it is a treasure house of trivia related to the North East as well their useful information and links that they keep posting. Within a span of two months they have grown larger by hundreds by sheer sense of commitment to their cause.
Recently a news item which said Senjam Rajsekhar , a Guwahati born Manipuri man, the director of Corporate communications , Vedanta Group had been featured in the Holmes Report as one of the 100 most influential communicators, brought a smile to many from the region. Not without a reason of course!. Though Senjam Raj Sekhar did us proud, but every success story has a story , that which did not make it to being successful. Yes! We are referring to Irom Sharmila, but as Sharukh Khan said in the movie Baazigar – Haar Ke Jeetne walo Ko Baazigar Kehte hain.. She and the people of Manipur, though may not have achieved yet what they set out for, but for the world they will always be a winner and we have a strong belief that her persistence and perseverance will certainly be fruitful.
Footnote- North East India has an unending list of emerging success stories which if tackled individually in details will run into hundreds of pages. We are not at all undermining any body’s contribution towards the region if for space and time constraints, we had missed it. In fact every one who is a law abiding citizen from this parts , proud to belong here and trying hard in their own way to impart a positive image of the north east to the world outside, is an emerging success story for us. (how insignificant the efforts may seem to others)
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