Monday, June 21, 2021
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With Apologies to Whomsoever it may Concern

An entire generation that believes in a sect called racism should learn from the youth about today’s New India

So do people from the rest of India know enough about the Northeast?

Of course not. But how many from the East know all the districts say in Tamil Nadu?

We may be “chow” and “momo” and “chinky” out there on the mainland but how about “dkhar” for a non-tribal in Meghalaya, “Bongal” for Bengalis in Assam, “teteli-khoa” (tamarind eaters) for the South Indian in Assam, the all-encompassing “O-Bangali” for the non-Bengali in Bengal…

The list is endless… And we are all the same. Racist in our own Indian way.

Yet this becomes far more disturbing when political leaders set the trend, disconnecting the phone, for example, if a reporter from elsewhere does not know his state as well as the politician thinks he should.

And it does happen sometimes here in the Northeast where ‘mainland ignorance about us’ has become a bit of a chip on our shoulder. What could have been an opportunity to educate, enlighten and make friends is often cut short with a rude ‘will-teach-you-a-lesson’ attitude.

It is time the older generation learns a thing or two from the new when it comes to national integration beyond what it is described as by the Indian politician from the podium.

The older generation should have learnt, for example, from the back-packing dread-locked youngster and his girlfriend travelling the country on a bike, roughing it out, camping, reaching out, taking pictures with other Indians who for their parents and grandparents would have been complete strangers, often people to be laughed at.

They should have learnt it from all those people, again mostly youngsters, who travel hundreds of kilometers from across the country to attend the Hornbill Festival at Kisama near Kohima, where they eat pork and fermented bambooshoot and drink Naga zutho and ruhi, then pose for pictures with the senior headman who will show off his headhunting tattoos.

Learn from all those youngsters to travel all the way to camp out at the Ziro Music Festival in Arunachal Pradesh. Learn from the hundreds of youngsters who travel to Shillong to attend the NH7 Weekender, the two-day music festival that hosts all kinds of bands from all over the country. Go there and watch youngsters from Nagaland and Mizoram and Kerala and Punjab dance to a Bhojpuri song sung by Kalpana Patowari, an Assamese who is a leading actor and singer in Bihar. Watch youngsters from across the country sit around drinking together—there are six or seven bars in there and yet no fights. Watch them camp out and do music, all together, all night.

That is the India they should learn from.

Go to a Jethro Tull concert in Kolkata and do not be surprised to see a large part of the crowd being from the Northeast.

The number of students and “migrants” who travelled back to their states of origin is, apart from the pictures of hardships and pain, also a reminder that while politicians talk about national integration, there are millions of Indians who have made places other than their places of origin, their home, not just in India but overseas.

There they learn, imbibe, and contribute to societies that they become part of. All said, there are millions of Indians who contribute to the larger Indian cause daily. It is time politicians stopped dividing them.

Founder Editor... Formerly resident editor (east and northeast) with The Telegraph, editor (Assamese) with The Sunday Indian, has worked with India Today, National Herald and The Sentinel. Has written for India Today Travel Plus, Darpan, The Pioneer, Hindustan Times online edition, The Times of India. Lyricist and singer, enjoys composing, photography, being a chef and travelling