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Ignorance and the North East: A New Mirror.

One very fine evening I was sitting alongside this Gujarati friend of mine at Hauz Khas Village over a cup of tea when all of a sudden she said, “Over the time I have become very fond of Assamese people.” I smiled as she continued, “Previously I believed…” and before she could continue her statement I interrupted; “Previously you believed that we all were into ourselves and we don’t like to talk to other people.” With a faint smile she said, yes.
I recently completed three years of stay in Delhi. From my two years of higher secondary schooling to the first year of graduation. Though compared to the decades old Assamese residents of the capital, three is just nothing, yet three years of my student experience is here is bold enough to confirm and establish certain facts which at least I feel are somewhat our draw back.
This friend of mine from Uttarakhand asked me one day, “Amlan, tell me the reason why people of the North East feel neglected?” I took a minute to think and began. I told him that maybe it is because of the of the language barrier for which we feel a little out of world and we are restrained. Maybe because of the fact that ever since independence North East has been a neglected region of the country. May be because of the diversified Socio-political scenario of the region people feel we are different.
Every sentence of mine had a maybe in it. I was not certain of any fact. Why? I was forced to rethink, why did I not have any solid reason to justify our so called ‘negligence’? My lack of concreteness in the answer was probably because I was never really discriminated on the basis that I am from the North East.  
Negligence has been there on the part of the Government. Right from the time of independence, the part of North East has been given a special significance but never really any importance by the Government.  The insurgency problem, China-Bangladesh border problem, and so many others, of which we still await a solution, but all we have is a ‘Special Significance’. We are entitled with a tag of ‘Special Status’ and that is where I believe the root problem lies.
One very fine day, when it was decided that I would be studying in the national capital, my parents came up to me and said, “You are going out of Assam. Be careful, people there do not hold a good view about us. They discriminate us, don’t get involved with anyone.” This is where the problem is. After hearing about this ‘special status’ for years, a mentality is set inside house hold that people outside the state will have a special view on you. And even if they do, you come out with such extra attention that makes you extra cautious which catches people’s eye even if they don’t want to.
I believe counter opinions will pour in. But all because of this special status issue, I see students from North East congregated together in the Capital. May be because their parents have asked them to, but you always find a group of Assamese boys and girls. For almost majority of Assamese parents, they trust their kids with some fellow Assamese students rather than being with a peer group of North Indians. And in this due process we find the group being totally isolated from the general crowd, which catches the attention.
This same Guajarati friend of mine asked me, “I see my fellow classmates from the North East always together, and they don’t mingle up with us. I tried talking to them. But they always maintain distance.” Now tell me, when you yourself keep distance, you automatically instigate bullying. This is just an opinion, but a very basic psychology is that if someone ignores you or knowingly keeps distance from you, you tend to try to grab attention by any means.
I never say that we are not being discriminated. But all I say is don’t get into the mentality that you will be discriminated every time. Just like crooks back in our state, even they have it there, but that doesn’t mean that everyone out there is bad.

This can’t possibly be a co incidence that every other people I meet are genuine fond of Assam and speak about things other than insurgency and riots which is very much in contradiction to our view that people know us because of these issues.  In the end I would just like to conclude that you will see good only if you look for good. There might have been bitter experiences, but we cannot keep ourselves restricted to the past when we have brighter future ahead. With fresh batch of students coming in every year to the capital I just wish them to have a wider prospective which will definitely give them a better life.  
  • 5
  • Sunday, June 02, 2013
Amlan Amlan Author


  1. I have often wondered about the reasons why certain ethnic groups like to mainly bond among themselves. The folks from the NE may have their reasons as ascribed by you above. But what explains Malayalees sticking among themselves? Oriyas? Even Bengalis? Maybe language barriers, as you have alluded to. I don't think it could be discrimination. I feel it might also be, for lack of a better word, a superiority complex?

    I am also curious to know - do all NE ethnicities intermingle? For example, do Assamese and say, Mizos 'hang out'? Or is it just the Assamese among their folks, and Mizos among theirs and Garos among theirs etc. Has the NE at least broken down the barriers among the so-called '7 Sisters'?

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am from a mixed ethnic household. My mother is Assamese (from Dispur) but has been based in Delhi since 1971.

    1. No never, Assamese will always stick to Assamese guys while other people with other. This at times leads to ego clashes and we complain about discrimination.

    2. Hah! And that is exactly how my mother describes the time when she was studying in Shillong in the 1960s. Glad to know that things haven't changed even in 50 years!

  2. Absolutely love it. You write really well man. Keep up the blogging! :)

  3. Whoa! Your posts are really hard-hitting and interesting. For this I would like to give you the Liebster Award. You may collect it from:
    Make sure you cater to the instructions before you announce it to the world. Congratulations!


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