The North East – not really burning bright

If I ask you to point Manipur out to me on a blank map, would you be able to do it? I ask, because yesterday I had the opportunity to witness someone comment on the north east “not behaving like they’re Indian” and then hesitating and stammering when asked where the Brahmaputra flowed through. The point simply being, that the rest of India doesn’t really treat the NE as a part of India either. I think it’s  a bit of a chicken and an egg situation. A vicious cycle. One can keep blaming the other or both sides can make an attempt to bridge the gap in understanding.

I was privileged enough to attend the launch of Deepti Priya Mehrotra’s book on Irom Sharmila: Burning Bright a couple of days ago. It was the same day as a friend’s dinner party and I had to beg off because I badly wanted to attend this. To my horror, no one knew what I was talking about when I mentioned that I was excusing myself to attend a book about Irom Sharmila’s struggle.

Some might say the only reason I am aware of her is that I am a journalist. I beg to differ but I don’t think anyone cares. It wasn’t that I spoke to a bunch of idiots about it. I spoke to well read, well traveled people who have an opinion on all things political. But were unaware of her existence.

This ignorance hammers home a point. A woman has been on a hunger strike for NINE years. NINE YEARS. NINE f**king years – and the rest of the country lives on, blissfully ignorant. Yes, 2nd November will be the ninth anniversary of her hunger strike. And yet we all know when Medha Patkar goes on a 20 day strike for the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Yes, the government is force feeding her to keep her alive, but do you know what it takes to stay on nasal feed? For 1.5 days after the birth of each of my kids, I was on an IV. So while I wasn’t hungry at all, I craved food. I wanted the sensation of chewing, I wanted to feel the textures in my mouth. I wanted the crunch of papad, the sweet slide of custard down my throat, the pungency of pickle… It’s not easy to have a pipe shoved into your nose and to be forcefully kept alive.

Why on earth is she on a hunger strike anyway, they ask.

Good question. More ignorance. She’s protesting against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 or the AFSPA. She’s protesting against the way the government is treating that part of the country. The military has full freedom to do as they please, which goes against the concept of a democracy, doesn’t it? Yes, there is insurgency  – but has the rest of the country been dealt with in this way? For years on end? Should the military, like the rest of the country, like us, not be accountable to law?

And let us not put the armed forces on a pedestal please. They’re as human as the rest of us. In 2004 they tortured, raped and killed a 32 year old woman. This lead to a group of Manipuri women protesting. They stripped naked and carried banners saying “Indian Army rape us”. These were ordinary women. Like us. To use a phrase only us Indians will get -they were also ‘ ma aur behen’. Imagine what kind of despair and provocation it would take for your mother or sister to march down the street stark naked. To protest without violence.

Young men are summarily killed. Four hundred men between the ages of 19 and 40 are killed each year. Are you aware of that? While you protest over suicides in Vidarbha, these are young lives being snuffed out with no one questioning as to why it is happening. About 300 of them leave behind widows and children. Every year. Who is feeding them? Who is educating them?

There are 16 insurgent groups working across the NE and I can understand that the government has it’s limitations. But is the answer simply this – to suppress them and trample on them? Can you imagine the growing unrest, resentment and hatred?

A young girl giving a testimonial at the book launch said that she was there recently for her grandmother’s funeral and they couldn’t get on with it. Wanna know why?  Because the place is under curfew after 5 pm. Five pm! Most of us are still in office at that hour. And during the day some insurgent group or the other declares a total bandh. So there is practically no time that the people, the aam junta is free to step out. They don’t know what it is to live a normal life. There is an entire generation growing up there that thinks the sound of gun shots and protests is normal. For the last almost FIFTY years.

Can you imagine living in that sort of terror? Not knowing if your husband will be suspected of terrorist activity and shot on his way home? Keeping your kids locked into the house all day? No playgrounds for them to run out to…

What is really sad is that Irom Sharmila is under arrest for the hunger strike- charged for attempt to suicide.They should arrest anyone doing anything that risks life and limb then. Like people who go mountaineering or bungee jumping. Anything could go wrong you know. I say arrest the buggers before they go parasailing too.

Of course its in their best interests to keep her alive because if she dies, Manipur will go ape shit. And I wouldn’t blame them. It’s like a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

What is this post about? Just awareness I guess. After four people looked at me blankly when I spoke of the “Manipur issue”, I wondered how many more there were. That and the unfair Armed Forces (Special Forces) Act of 1958. Down with 377 and down with this too. Everyone needs to be accountable. Would we accept any other state being treated this way for fifty years? Any other person being arrested for hunger strike for ten years?

Even today a young reformed man and pregnant woman got shot in Imphal. With no explanations. Or rather, conflicting evidence.

How can we sleep peacefully at night while a part of our country lies awake at night either mourning their dead or awaiting their turn? I could tell you to sign this petition, but I’m not so hopeful. We need more than petitions. We need less than violence. We need debate. We need a movement. We need to start caring. Will you?

I guess we will when we take time off from banning the holding of hands in public. And using festivals to make political digs. Ugh.

Until then, do read more about the north east, do care more, please.

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77 thoughts on “The North East – not really burning bright

  1. MM,

    a thought provoking post.
    But I do think you are a bit too harsh in your generalization when you say “I beg to differ but I don’t think anyone cares”.

    Me: err… I meant I dont think anyone cares about my differing! not about the North East!

    For one, not everyone can know / know of everything. And not knowing does not always mean one doesn’t care. I agree awareness is the first step but caring or not caring has nothing to do with awareness.
    I care for the NE ..I hate anything divisive. Sure, I don’t know about Irom Sharmila. But does that means I don’t care ?
    I am sure a lot of us do. We also trawl the news papers on the web and on paper and get our daily dose of news. News hounds among us will probably do more and regularly digest news magazines etc. But maybe that is not enough to know of everything.
    no ?
    Jo

    Me: Here I will differ again. This state has been under a draconian law for almost FIFTY years. How come we dont know? We seem to know that rakhi sawant got married to some joker off the telly. and irom HAS been in the news. She’s had foreigners come and visit us. how come they are aware and we are not?

    My link in the last few lines is from CNN-IBN. that means the papers are covering it too. How come people are still unaware?

    sorry if i sound harsh – but trust me, I didnt come across as half as harsh as I feel right now 😦

  2. umm i knew about irom and the infamous armed forces act …and can point out manipur on the map. do i get the hamper?

    Me: *puts aneela under a microscope* hmm… a new specimen. must examine it further 😀

  3. Here’s the thing MM, I have spent sleepless nights with my brother and mother wondering if my Dad would ever be back as he was ambushed in the North East – Nagaland to be precise. This goes back to the times when we did not even have phones at homes. So we’d rush down to a common telephone at a given time where we would get to speak to someone in Assam who would relay the message. As you can see, it was not easy. The media was not as big then, all we knew what happened was through a small article in the corner of the front page of the newspaper.

    My father has been away for more than 8 years of my growing up, and I left home went to a hostel for further education at the capital when I was 18 years. So that gave us 10 years of staying together when I was a kid…

    I say all this as a proud daughter of an Army Officer. Having said that, I would say that I completely detest the men – whether they are soldiers, officers or simply men not in the uniform raping women or hurting kids/ women / men.

    I understand the protests, however, if we were to look at a solution really…there are two things that pop up in my mind

    – Leaves for the Indian Army soldiers, extremely essential. They do not get to see their family for 6-8 months at a stretch. Yes, they signed up for it..but at the end of the day they are humans.

    – Role of Police in todays scenario. They are trained and are more suited to deal with conditions of non-war. They are supposed to be softer in their approach. However, sadly they do not even have the funds for something more than a lathi to combat a situation like the one erupting in North East.

    …..hmm…still thinking more..

    PS: Would like to be anonymous. This is an emotional comment, so not sure if things I wrote made complete sense to you. But they do to me…

    Me: very good points both, anon. I understand your need to stay so. anyone else have ideas?

  4. I cite this example when people (especially Indians) go on about China and Tibet. Are we really doing any better in our country that we can take the moral high ground and point fingers? That’s not to say that Tibet is not important but just that it’s easier to look outside than at our own legacy of suppression and violence.

  5. Yes, the situation in the North East has been grim and remains so. We need a lot more awareness and sensitive coverage of this troubled part of India. Unfortunately, even your average NE Delhi University student will be called ‘Chinky’ and treated like an outsider.

  6. I think we’re in denial that parts of our country have been turned into hellholes, like Kashmir and the NE. It’s gut-wrenching and that’s why we’d rather think about ‘easier’ troubles like bad roads and eve-teasing. Thanks for spreading the awareness.

  7. I came to know of Irom Sharmila in my B School when someone took up the AFSPA subject and urged us to look beyond the corporates and build an empathy for fellow human beings.. I was rather ashamed not to know of her till then … And I pride myself in being politically aware citizen of this country.. I wonder what is wrong where and why this disconnect…

  8. oh yes I have a friend from Manipal I think thats why I know abt all these… everytime I talk to her only thing she has to tell me is that one more person she knew has passed away… I can see the hurt in her eyes and voice. Initially I used to argue with her that u dont think like Indians but ofcourse now I know better

    Sometimes I wonder is there a solution to all that happening in NE? How and when will this stop

  9. Dear MM, I understand what you are trying to say. I would say, I have been fortunate enough to have many friends from the North-East. On one hand government after government neglects their plight in their own land, on the other hand authorities in other parts of India do not treat them justly. Its sad.

  10. Hi MM,
    A lovely post…and so close to my heart!
    Even I couldnt believe the number of people who were totally unaware about the Manipur issue. And yeah, there are plenty who dont know the difference between a Manipur, Tripura,Meghalaya,Sikkim,Nagaland,Assam and Arunachal.For many, these are just another names for “East India”. And its true that we as Indians care very less for the people from this part of our country.
    I sincerely hope that all the people reading your post do atleast the simplest of google searches to know what exactly is happening in this part of our country.

    Thanks to you for bringing up this serious issue.

    N.

  11. I am ashamed to say I am in that group of ignorant people. I didn’t know about the Manipur issue or Irom Sharmila until I read your post.

    Why am I so aghast at the fact that Irom Sharmila is being force-fed? Doesn’t she, as a human being, have a right to choose whether she wants to eat or not?

    Thanks for the post, MM. It opened my eyes to the horrible state of NE.

  12. ouch. that really hurt. While I am aware of the situation, i would be a hypocrite to say I care and actively follow the status. i read now and then, whenever there is focus in the media, there have been a lot of email forwards, but like u so rightly say, when Medha
    Patkar goes on strike its headline meterial but issues like these go unnoticed. I have so many NE friends, who have shared their agony at some point or the other, but they too prefer to stay away from their homeland, away from the chaos, in safe environs. Strong post, and yes, will give this more thought and time.

  13. Dear MM,
    yes I wouldnt have been able to place the name immediately but have heard of this before. Reg your point about the NE not being in the common person’s conscious mind, I agree. Its just so alien to us. It does seem that human rights are being abused completely there but many a time- I have heard the other side of the story. There are elements ( its never the common man) in NE who dont want to be a part of India, they will do anything t disrupt peace. And then the army is needed and then it becomes a Catch 22 situation. Also- why did a Gandhi succeed in his fast/s- coz he built up belief in his cause with the masses and they were willing to support him. Yes, perhaps we need to become more aware but agreeing with you – I dont think we have enough information yet , to take a strong stand…

  14. Hmm.. To be truthful – I was among the people who would have said what “Manipur issue”?? I’m glad u shared this. I am now more aware of it and will follow the issue too. 🙂

  15. MM – I love that you share these things that make people sit up and go “Wow. Really?”

    Little tidbit – I’m half assamese (my father’s a south indian), but haven’t been able to go back in 15 years because of kidnap threats sent by the ULFA to my family the last time my father and i were visiting there.

  16. MM,

    I’m one of those who would’ve asked you who is Irom Sharmila. Thanks for sharing. I would not feel completely guilty though for not being aware since its really difficult to keep pace with all the happenings.
    But, then I thank the blogging world for its through the bloggers who write on various issues that keep us aware.
    Thanks again. I wish there is something which we could do.

  17. Hi,

    I always feel that the local governance, local intellectual capital, local media, braindrain etc are the causes of the plight of the North East. This is an unfair world and everyone (even a state or a region) has to earn its own bread, respect and recognition.

    Until we have confident knowledgeable minds governing the states with a vision and an iron hand, untill we have intellectual capital not moving out of the states, North East is in a ventilator.

    Me: Cant help the local youth moving out na? What life is offered to them between government apathy and insurgency? the situation makes me want to cry and I dont even belong there! And to think that after all this they come to other cities and get treated so badly

    Dont know what percentage of Assam is already Bagladesh… last data that I know is “only 23% of Assam is Assamese”.

  18. You’ve written about this so well. Why don’t you send in this piece somewhere so that more people can read it and greater awareness can be spread. Because we need to know much more.

    Me: babe, people dont WANT to be aware 😦 I’ve linked up to news on IBN. That means the channels are covering it too. But people just see it and say oh – someone shot. then they shrug and switch channels. they dont stop to ask and read and google (!) and find out WHY. what will my little piece achieve?

  19. Wonderful post, terrible situation. Just shows the power of the press and how it is misused in the name of popular demand. Not in my name, I’d like to say.
    I wonder what it will take to change that?

    Me: we could start by supporting papers that bring all this to us. Tehelka for example. Digs up stuff that no one else does. Stop buying the top papers of the country that concentrate on pg 3 and dumb us down. stop watching news channels that only show us abhi-aish weddings!

  20. Hmm MM, you’ve said it.
    I live in the Chicken’s Neck, the “gateway to the NE”, very close to the town where holding of hands is deemed immoral and the town looks like a huge school in uniform during Dasai/Dussehra.
    I know where it hurts; we live with the bites and pinches … I’d better stop here.
    About insurgency and the NE, have you read Siddhartha Deb’s brilliant novel, Surface?

    Me: no I havent. on your recco I shall

  21. Ashamed to say I was not aware of this. Thanks for brining this up. In our day to day lives and in the narrow outlook that most of us have which is centered around our family and work, we tend to turn a blind eye to things like this, until someone really hits you on the face like this. Thanks again.

  22. Thats a very nice piece MM!

    I have to admit that I am one of the people who had no clue about who Irom Sharmila is (and I consider myself politically aware, which I have 2nd thoughts on now). Though I have read off and on about Manipur and the violence ensuing there, I have never understood the gravity of the situation. Your post and the news link clearly shows that it is no different from either a J&K or Punjab.

    A very strong and thought provoking post.

  23. MM, you will be very proud to know that this twenty-something year old KNOWS all the north-eastern states by heart and can even point them on the map. In fact, it’s so weird that you wrote a post on Manipur, cos’ a friend and I were listing down all the north-eastern states (to test ourselves) and when I said ‘Manipur’, she went, ‘Manipur is a state? No it isn’t!’ And I was really shocked. To see if she was really serious, I humoured her further and said, ‘Yeah maybe it’s a city in Orissa’. And she replied, ‘Yeah could be. But I am sure it’s not a state!’ I almost fell off my chair.

    Also, this post HAS to be one of my topmost favorite posts of ALL THE POSTS I have read on the blogosphere! You have a way with your words MM. Seriously, send this to some newspaper or something!

  24. Dear Ma’m,

    At the onset I must appreciate the spirit with which you’ve written the piece and in your own way tried to bring up an issue that does command, if not beg this country’s attention. My kudos for writing the piece.

    However, I must admit, that I was equally disappointed to read the emotionally charged words which fail to perhaps lead us somewhere. Particularly, such a piece coming from a journalist, just reflects one of the things that plagues this country perhaps.

    Before sounding too judgmental, at the risk of being branded a contrarian or dumb witted, I must ask you what exactly is the objective of your piece? Is it the cause? Is it Irom? Is it Manipur is it NE or is it India or is it Indians?

    With this caveat I would beg you to differentiate between “reporting” and “journalism”. You as like the other news channel(s) have told us WHAT, now would you please tell us WHY?

    With due regards, I fully stand by Irom’s cause and her fight. I was aware of her struggle (and I can bloody well point where not just Manipur is but also the seven sisters including the areas intruded upon by China). But I’m also aware of the route cause of Manipur’s insurgency. If any of you (including those who commented except Mr Durlov, who I must say sounds like the only sane voice around this noise) is “really” interested in her cause please go a little deeper.

    At the last count I believe there are around 30 groups (violent / non-violent) separatist groups who want to be “independent” from India. Does anyone know why? Why is it that media can report “killings” so easily and yet if the government announces any developmental package its just another way of appeasement!

    And, let us not make one crime sound more heinous (read rape/encounter) or one struggle more glamorous (Medha vs Irom) just because either they are reported or not. Let us please think of the people they stand for. The CAUSE.

    Have you ever wondered from where do those wonderful bamboo furniture makers on the roads in your city come from? For all you know they may have lost their land somewhere. They might just be “tribals” whose existence is equally unknown to this country as much is the fact on how many soldiers die each year fighting the insurgents like the one in Manipur.

    Please, I’m not justifying any of the killings by army. They should be equally be dealt with as per law if not more harshly.

    I request you all. Please look within. Search for the unrest around you. You decry the rape by army and ridicule the focus on Darjeeling banning holding hands. Why? Why should I be even comparing. Or why should I be noticing? For all you know the draconian law you are talking about being in force for 50 years may have germinated in equally deprived mind! What is the society going to? Whom are we making powerful? Who is the decision maker? Nothing bothers us because no one is getting killed perhaps.

    I firmly believe in what Durlov said “local intellectual capital”. Please madam, understand that its the “individual”, the individual who builds the society critical to development of any nation. Its the intellectual capital like yours that will seal the fate of the social fabric. Its fine to create awareness but do also skim the surface. Get to the root. Show the grime everywhere. Don’t be partisan one way or the other. Educate the masses and then give food for thought. Its the mindset that begs more attention.

    You don’t have to go far to search for dumbness. Look at the comments on your own blog. People can’t differentiate between Manipur and NE. Perhaps they don’t need to either. Aren’t we just Indians. Hypocritically proud Indians refusing to look at Why and just keep ranting about Whats be it as an ignorant commoner or an intellectualised “journalist”.

    Apologies for the sarcasm at the end. I know not many people including you would like it. But then I’m as frustrated with pseudo intellectuals of this country as you are with the ignorants.

    Once again, Durlov, hats off to you. Your name suggests you belong to Assam or perhaps Darjeeling. The view couldn’t have been better coming from the neighbour of Manipur suffering from its own problems.

    Me: I think the point you’re missing Abhishek is that this is my personal blog, not an article in a newspaper. This WILL be emotionally charged because I DO feel strongly about it and I am writing it in my personal capacity and not as a journalist. So please dont compare me to a newschannel because its not my job to report and give you background.

    I COULD tell you the why of it but that would just be me pontificating like you are – which really has no worth. Neither of us are qualified to make political statements. The idea, since you ask, if you couldn’t already tell, was to point out that there is strife in a part of our country, and there is someone starving to protest that strife. To create awareness. Nothing loftier or mightier than that, thank you. Now those who are interested can dig deeper I am sure. Its unlikely that I can cover in one short post EVERYTHING that is going on there, give you statistics and political opinions when a range of books can’t cover what has been happening there for fifty years.

    What do you mean by inability to distinguish between NE and Manipur? Last I checked Manipur was north east just as Tamil Nadu is in the south. You’ve raised 30 different issues but I really don’t see what you’re objecting to or what you’re looking for in this post. Please only reply if you plan to do it respectfully and coherently. Caveat or not, sarcasm is unacceptable if you’re looking to have a meaningful discussion. Otherwise, I notice you have your own blog – go back and do it there and don’t question my choice of topic or tone.

  25. You did attend the launch?! You are really blessed. That’s the convenience in being at Delhi. Isn’t it? Irom is one woman whom the media has conveniently forgotten. I respect this lady’s and Aung San Suu Kyi’s for their determination so much.

    I have not even read your post. Sheer mention of Irom, wanted me to jump and type this comment.

  26. i know about this – but i too didn”t know that AFSPA has been in force for so long. for some reason i thought it was for the last decade and a half – which itself is WAY too long. Like POTA, MCOCA – all these laws are too draconian and IF AT ALL needed – should come with a stop-by date built into the law.

    When i first read about Irom and again today – the question in my mind is – why? why does the NE get so little coverage that something like this deradful story is given too little importance. how come Medha Patkar gets a lot more coverage? (nothing against her. More power to her, i say!). So you did link up to media coverage on the issue – but lets face it – media coverage for the NE is too little and far between. Most of us can only get info. from the newspapers about issues such as these. so, if the media gives the NE a step-motherly treatment – people hear so little about it – it’s not in the forefront of their minds/memory – so the caring is a lot less. It is not because they do not want to care – it is because they know too little.

    Imagine – if Irom got day by day coverage, with the newspapers publishing updates of the death toll, the atrocities, the ground situation in the NE everyday/every week – won’t there be more awareness and more caring? Is it not the media’s “duty”? but do most newspapers care?

    isn’t it just like what TV channels, film producers, news channels say – when they carry sensational/retrograde crap – this is what the public demands? i beg to differ – the ‘mango people’ often surprise us by being more than happy to appreciate class over crap. But if all you feed them is crap – then why be surprised if they choose the most sensational bit of crap to watch.

    This titbit to end. when i moved to madras after completing my 11th and 12th from Guwahati, a few of my BSc classmates thought i’d moved there from abroad. They didn’t even know of one place in the NE, leave alone the different states. And this at the time when the Assam agitation was at its peak.

    Sorry this is SO long. Just started typing and it all spewed out…:(.

  27. Excellent post!thought-provoking…makes one sit and wonder and feel terrible and ashamed and question and plan on what difference one can make…

  28. Hey MM… this is a brilliant post!!

    Ppl not knowing abt Irom Sharmila is a surprise, but not entirely a shocker.. our media gives more space to Deepika Padukone’s hairstyle change than it gives in a year to Irom Sharmila. Kashmir is news, North East is not.

    Everytime someone asks “Why do these ppl have to come here to study anyway?” i end up being really mad and asking “Has it ever occured to you that they should be asking YOU that question, not the other way round.. why are there insufficient colleges only in that part of the country? The people can study.. that much is obvious.. they want to study, that much is obvious too.. so why should they have to come here? “

  29. The only time people get all hot and bothered about the North East is when they hear of Chinese incursions. Good on you for writing this.

  30. Thanks .. for letting me know of this issue .. Its ironic how we youngsters live in our own world of high salaries and good profiles when so much is burning around us ..
    and thanks again ..

  31. I have always wondered about issues in North East and why news coverage from Assam looks like some war torn country at times. this is the push I needed to read more. I am appalled to hear Irom’s story.

  32. Thanks for this. Guilty as charged about being unaware but certainly not proud of it and now on knowing, will surely dig deeper.
    The media you say covers this but to be honest, in my limited time, the news websites that I browse through dont highlight these issues. But thats an excuse and the truth is I need to understand and filter out the trash we read and make time for the actual news. I will.

  33. Another shocking post. This time many thanks for bringing to light a topic that I was shamefully ignorant of.

    First, a note on what media reports and why. A few days ago I watched a talk on TED describing the workings of American media. It is much cheaper to cover Britney Spears than Africa and hence the distorted world view. The same is true for Indian media too.

    Having said that I completely agree that I need to be more aware of the injustices in my own country instead of skimming front page news from sensational sources (Times of India I am looking at you).

    Part of the reason I am a regular, although quiet, reader of your blog is because you present a unique point of view and more and more because you now talk about issues that so many of your readers were oblivious to.

    However, I have to disagree with you on one count. Why a dig at the coverage of Vidarbha suicide? Not too long ago farmer suicides was a topic as neglected as the struggle in Manipur. If it wasn’t for Sainath’s persistent articles nothing would have changed. In my mind the struggle of common people against profit seeking organizations or armed institutions gone wrong is similar all over the world. It is a fight to regain what is rightfully theirs. Land, freedom of speech, human dignity. There are more parallels in these struggles than differences.

    Again, thank you for this post. I have so much to learn.

    Me: It wasnt a dig at all – i have nothing against the farmers. it was a very strong point – that anything happening in the NE doesnt get so many knickers in a twist. even the media doesnt seem to care. Yes, Sainath got farmers attention – but there are books on the NE and YET we dont know of the sitch.

  34. MM,
    media coverage seems to be next to non-existent on this and other issues related to the NE – we had girls from Manipur in college with us, so am somewhat familiar with the issues there.

    My opinion, FWIW, is if border disputes are the way to bring the area into prominence, then the activists/media should probably play up that angle – once public opinion is focused on the area, then other issues can be dealt with – I recall when Kashmir was an issue only with the displaced Pandit families – and nowhere near the newshog it is now….

    M

  35. +1 with Aneela.

    I know it sucks coz I had 4 Naga roomies and had to constantly answer why as a Tam Brahm, Hindu girl from a seemingly conservative family ( my granny was) would stay with meat eating girls who looked foreign and wore clothes like that. I love them to death and would not want to live with anyone else ever again if given a choice.

    My parents didn’t have a problem and actually didn’t care. My mom was in fact proud of these girls who are extremely domestic in spite of being ‘trendy’ and what not. So, yes, every word you’ve written probably are echoes in their lives.

  36. Out of sight, out of mind. By shoving it deep in a corner of a news paper or far bottom on a web page doesn’t entail it as coverage at all. An issue such as this need continuous coverage on a daily basis and to expect such a thing from the Murdoch conglomerates is akin to politicians without politics, religion without god.

    While I read your post, for a minute I gave myself a quiz to name the seven sister states in NE and I failed miserably. This is after having several friends from NE in school while I did my Bachelors in Bangalore.

    What we sow is what we reap and all we do is ignore NE. One of these days, it is going to explode in our face and leave India (one-)limbless.

  37. You just painted a more complete picture of who I am (as an Indian)…
    and made me feel proud about having you as a friend in my life.
    *Big Hug*

  38. This is something I’ve thought about often and always found disturbing. I’m not sure I completely agree with the theory that it is people who don’t pay attention, I think the media doesn’t give these stories the attention they deserve. I’d read about Irom Sharmila and the other stories you mention but when I thought back to the sources, in most cases for me it was the BBC and not an Indian website.
    I found the story of Sanjit particularly shocking because it seemed as if the security forces didn’t care that they were being photographed, they knew they would get away with it and so far they seem to have.

    Me: Hey Uma… Well media does give it a little attention – see, I linked up from Indian sites. Its the people who dont seem to care. mention the north east and people mouth cliches about – oh they dont think of themselves as Indian, they’re into drugs, their women are loose charactered yaada yaada. There’s a disconnect. However the strong the north south divide is in this country, there is still a grudging acceptance that we’re all indian. the north east is just dismissed as chinky. “go back to China”, they’re told, by ignorant people who should be shot

  39. Thank you for writing this. My ignorant self had no clue of Irom Sharmila & her struggle before reading the post

    *ashamed*

  40. ‘We could start by supporting papers that bring all this to us. Tehelka for example. Digs up stuff that no one else does. Stop buying the top papers of the country that concentrate on pg 3 and dumb us down. stop watching news channels that only show us abhi-aish weddings!

    This is so very well said. The top English papers and magazines are such waste. Tehelka and Indian Express give you an idea of what is happening in India and why.

  41. Thanks for this article MM. I knew about the NE turmoil but had no idea about Irom Sharmila! To tell you the truth I didnt know that people from North East were not considered Indians…came to know that because of Chak De! Will check out the links.

  42. Thanks for writing about this and sharing this with us, MM. I am ashamed that I didn’t know of her earlier.

    I realized how much it hurts to address people from North-East as “chinkies” when I got to hear more about the region from my Assamese roommate in B-school. I haven’t done it but haven’t stopped people from doing it either. It’s a pity that a part of our nation is considered so alien!!

    P.S. I have posted the link to Irom’s wiki article on Twitter. Hope you don’t mind.

    Me: not at all. please spread the word wide and far

  43. MM- I don’t fall in that majority. u had talked about…I know about Sharmila since an IE journalist ran her story- 5-6 years back!

    Let me correct you that AFSPA is not an act for NE only and is presently in force in the state of J&K as well, ofcourse it was first implemented in NE only…for obvious reasons…

    The promulgation of this act in 1958 happened after large scale insurgency fuelled by a combination of factors-

    1) socio climate wherein one’s tribe is given primacy over every other thing (so u have a conflict between Nagas and Kukis, kachaars and bengalis and bodos and so on so forth much like present Africa (Hutus and Tutsis butchered each other in Rawanda)…..when European missionaries set foot in NE, their expansionary tendencies systematically attacked tribal culture in their bid to enforce Christianity (you might want to check history before reacting to it I forgot that famous comment of a Kenyan President when he said- that all European Missionaries did to us was that they gave us Bible and took away everything else we had )-FYI- Writ of Naga Hoho runs supreme in Nagaland and they are the ones who decide who to vote for etc etc…..NSCN (IM) and NSCN (Khaplang) have patronage of various missionaries and this is no secret to anyone!

    Me: Ah! the famous tactic of distracting with religion. Alok – the Bible prevails in many countries without taking anything away from them. Kindly have some respect to other cultures and communities particularly when you are addressing someone who belongs to them – even if you choose not to do so in the privacy of your home.

    2) Britishers successfully did to NE what they couldn’t to Kashmir or Hyderabad…. Kashmir is nothing but Nehru’s creation else we all know that Junagadh and Hyderabad were worse than Kashmir…….What they couldnt achieve in other parts they made up for that by dividing NE between India/China/Burma and Bangladesh erstwhile Eastern Pakistan on ethnic lines……I have been to Chittigong or Syhlette and trust me people in those regions have no similarities whatsoever with other Bangladeshis….Chakmas are a case in point…they are culturally similar to Karens of Burma than to Bangladeshis in general…..But shrewd Britishers in their bid to keep these regions under their control formented trouble and ethnicity and turned blind eye to rampant activities of missionaries…..Those ethnic differences are still continuing because of those divisive policies….Make no mistake that Burma was part of undivided India and at one point in last century boasted of Indians as one of the largest blocks- when i say Indians, it means india west of seven sisters as well!

    3. Then you have a large scale insurgency problem which thrives on these ethnic differences and is fuelled further by Chinese and Junta in Myanmar…..

    I am sure that this comment esp on Missionary activity might lead to some heated arguments, so let me invite your attention to Bhutan- which is very peaceful just because the kingdom in that region abhorred all missionary activities…..reason why Bhutan stands tall amongst that entire region and so is Sikkim….Point I am trying to make is that it is not the looks (the reason given mostly to justify the case for their separation from India) but the divisive policies that are responsible for the present state of affairs….Pawan Kumar Chamling and Muivah have similar Mangloid looks but former is a nationalist while latter is a terrorist fighting just because he follows a different religion and belongs to a different tribe….

    Now tell me, how can you expect a government to fight someone who only knows the language of gun…..

    AFSPA is no issue in Meghalaya (peaceful area), Mizoram (peaceful again after Lal Denga Agreement), AP (again peaceful), Tripura (relatively preaceful as TNV is no more active and Left; formenters of trouble are in Power)…Assam- where issue is more of a Islamisation of Asaam due to large scale influx from Bangladesh (something our secularist have turned a blind eye- studies shows that Assam will be India’s second Muslim Majority state by 2030)….

    Problem with Manipur and Nagaland is that there is large scale insurgency (NSCN wants Greater Nagaland that included Naga areas of Manipur) while Kukis are fighting for their own areas…..

    Sharmila has all the reasons to fight for repeal of this act but what about so many Indian soldiers who have lost their lives in that region….what about their rights? Who is going to fight for that. Withour AFSPA, you cant expect to win Guerilla wars…….

    There is a case for repealing this act, if both factions of NSCN, Kukis and other active insurgent groups lay down arms..else you please guide forces as to how can they win a war like situation in NE…….

    Somebody needs to counsel Sharmila that it is not the act but the situation in her state that needs to change……people in other 4 mentioned states are living happily and they dont have any problem now…..however they had that problem prior to Lal Denga accord…

    And, if you think that there is a case for repeal of AFSPA in NE, then what about Kashmir….But do write about the plight of soldiers who have to fight for a land that doesnt even care for their issues!….

    MM- yes there has been some injustice meted out to people in those states but then that’s the price they have to pay for the insurgency they dont have any problem with…..Despite all problems in UP and Bihar, there is no AFSPA there as they dont have any problem with a concept that we call India!

    Me: I am not going to argue with you on the rest, because its your view and that is welcome. But your comments on missionaries, the Church and the Bible are not welcome and if you’re willing to let that alone, we’ll talk. I owe my education and my existence to them and bear a certain loyalty to it. I hope we’re very clear on that.

  44. Hey MM, A lovely post. I will not say more for the fear of sounding biased or writing too much based on personal experience.

  45. Let me clarify that I am not for a Hindu India but a truly secular India- a country where I am not labeled as a communalist because I raise some questions that minority don’t want to answer…….a country where majority should not consider it as thir birthright to bulldoze an opinion that goes against the secual value of our constitution…..

    Just a small argument-

    We all don’t call US communal though we know how deep role religion plays in that country…….To be president of that country did used “Hussein” name but dont forget that more than that he kept professing his complete allegiance to Church……… Can you ever imagine Obama as the President had he not done that publicly and that too on many ocassions! Answer is NO……

    Me: Alok – I am tired of you bringing up religion where there is no need for it. You’ve done it too many times for me to ignore. I have no idea how Obama’s pledge is related to this post but I will express my displeasure and tell you that unless you have something related to the post to say, please dont say it. This is a rant on Obama and the US that has nothing to do with me. What is more, its us trying to shrug off our ignorance by trying to show up other countries in a poor light. Does that absolve us of our own faults?

  46. Sorry for typing errors- please read this “To be president of that country did used “Hussein” name but dont forget that more than that he kept professing his complete allegiance to Church”

    as

    To become US President, Obama had to profess his alleagiance to the church on more ocassions than using “Hussein” name…..

  47. Having said that- I do feel terrible when girls from NE are treated badly…….are labeled loose character …….. have had arguments with guys passing lewd comments on many ocassions….

    I do agree that general Indian opinion of NE needs to change……I think it was Lalthanhawla who had recently commented in Singapore about the problem of “foreigner” tag for people from NE….he was right as majority does that…..and there is an urgent need to bring those people into mainstream…..

    Just read Abhishek’s comment and your reaction to it……Don’t you think that you were harsh with your words!

    Yes, this is your blog but then at the same time you have kept it open to general public …….Please do not expect everyone to write worshipping comments or to bow before you or sing your tune only…..you need to be appreciative of other’s opinion as well…..you cannot insult anyone like that…..if you have problem with anyone’s comments, WHY publish it and then insult someone in the way you did to Abhishek……

    Disparaging someone’s thoughts and opinions just because you don’t agree with them is bit too much……Neither he nor anyone dissenting has objected to your views…….those were just counter views only!

    Me: Abhishek was welcome to have an opinion. as long as it was respectful. he WASNT. but you dont seem to see that. prejudiced? I dont suppose you saw the digs at me being a journalist and yet writing an emotional post. this is NOT a newspaper. its my personal blog. so kindly make allowances for emotion. dont come here saying – DOnt be emotional. you want unemotional, dont read a blog, read a newspaper. he even admits that he is being sarcastic! did you conveniently and accidentally miss that line?

    and you want to insult my religious book and my community and not get a rise out of me? you must be remarkably rude or ridiculous. we’ve been there done that so dont get started again. even the last time it was about religion. if you have a chip on your shoulder, work it out for yourself. i have no issue with missionary activity because it made MY life. if you cant see that, i cannot show it to you. i hope we’re done

  48. MM- I am NOT against Bible, missionaries or any religion….. I respect Christianity and have been to missionary school myself….I CANNOT and WILL NEVER say anything against Bible…..I simply CANNOT.

    All i am saying is that you cant see NE problem in isolation of other factors…..those are real issues. and have played an important role shaping the present of NE…..

    Just because I raise issues relating to a minority doesnt make me communal……

    And that comment by former Kenyan president has been in the public domain for many years now…..many books have been written on that African subject as well…..

    Obama’s point was to show that when someone in US talks about majority or minority, they don’t label them as communal or secualar…..a country can be deeply secular even when religion permeates through the fabric of that country….

    Me: sigh. you’ve rambled again. and backtracked. and i am too tired to bother anymore. who said anything about secular or not? i just said the NE is neglected. are you denying that? no. do you have solutions? good – lets hear them. lets not rant about missionaries for everything that you might say they took – i can tell you what they gave me. they gave me the strength, the confidence and the education to have this blog and this conversation with you. are we done?

  49. MM- but why r u saying that I have said anything against Bible….I am NOT…..yes I have quoted missionaries in the NE context and african context….just because there are similarities between those two issues…I have not been to Kashi but I have been to Vatican….just because I respect religion per se….

    I was also schooled like u but that doesnt make me turn blind eye towards what happened all over NE and Africa…..I mean why you take my comments personally …they were not personal nor was aimed at religion and Bible…..

    Me: Fine Alok – maybe you think your statements about giving Bibles and taking away all else were polite. I dont – even if they were not your own words but a quotation. For that matter I think Christianity entered Kerala and Goa before any other part of the country and yet they seem to be quite peaceful.

    but this isnt the time or the place for that argument. I WILL take your comments personally because I am a Christian. just like you would get upset if I came to your blog and said someone gave the Gita and took away all else. its personal because in this case it would be addressed to you in particular. that makes all the difference.

  50. And yes solution lies in an open dialogue-
    wherein we need to recognise and accept our problems of the past as then only we will be able to find solutions….

    Why have that “Rin ki safedi” like competetion between various religions? Why we find it easier to find fault with one religion and its practioners while completely turning blind eye towards one’s own religion….I have repeatedly said that I have problems with many aspects of Hindu religion…. You have also written on many such issues in the past…isues that deals with many ills afflicting Hindu society….. but iam yet to come across any article on so called abuse issues in Church…..dont remember reading anything on that 70 year old priest in Kerala adopting nearly half his age nun …..or that sensational disclosure by a nun in Kerala or Abhaya issue…..

    Let me end this duel by saying that I will always nourish an “utopian desire” of having a single religion across the world……something that will be possible in 2100 or so…..God alone knows!

    Me: And here you go again. I havent picked on any Sadhu promising miraculous pregnancies sleeping with anyone either. because that is a particular person misusing his position. I’ve written about the Church’s stance on gay people and birth control as much as I have spoken up about segregation and caste issues. but naturally you missed that didnt you? that wouldnt support your argument against me or your image of me. that doesnt really bother me either way because naturally, as you said – i dont have and neither is it possible, to have only praise. you’re welcome to your twisted image of me because in the real world it makes no difference.

  51. Hey I forgot to add that I am a firm believer in power of Novena….have experienced it’s power thanks to my sister….

    You should read all my comments in proper perspective…read them as coming in from a nameless individual…may be you will be able to see what i am trying to say…..don’t read my comments as coming in from our past duels on many subjects…

    And boss, till there are religions and its practioners, it will be difficult not to create or see those linkages between religions and daily issues staring in our face….they are inter connnected as religion is everywhere!

    Me: Well I dont believe in the Novena and neither does that change my point that the WAY you have phrased your argument is offensive. also – in response to your last point about abhishek – i’ve said it often enough – i only delete abusive and offensive remarks. not dissent. and if you phrase your dissent rudely, i will reply rudely. not because i dont want dissent, but because i dont appreciate your tone. in your case, we often argue, but you arent abusive. i just dont like the way you phrase things. but i am learning to live with that just as you are learning what annoys me i guess.

    And YES – there is always a link between religion and daily life. so are you saying its alright and acceptable? or are you looking for a solution now?

  52. “Christianity entered Kerala and Goa before any other part of the country” is no comparison my friend…..Please note that there was no tribal culture in that region….

    Tribals have been the most vulnerable sections of any society…..be it in Africa/NE/Chattisgarh/Chota Nagpur/Kandhamal …..it is no secret mam!

    Me: Alok – as I said – I will NOT argue Christianity, missionary activity and the Bible here because this is not the point. We’re talking about mainstream media ignoring the NE issue. and the rest of the country being ignorant of it. Tell me why that is the case. And you can post about tribals and their issues on your own blog. Fair enough?

    And if you’re saying that the strife is because of difference in religion and not the way they look, even that is wrong, no? If some people choose a religion, that is no reason for others to go to war with them. If you want to be that simplistic.

  53. MM- I don’t have any twisted image of you….i respect you and your writings….but I don’t have to follow you blindly as like you I am educated human being with my own mind…..that can think and perceive things…….in my own way…..that can be both converging as well diverging …..

    Even after this duel, my respect for you is intact….both for you and your religion both…..Infact, Christianity belongs to me as much as it belongs to u……hope you feel same for my religion too!

    Me: I didnt ask you to blindly follow me Alok. I asked you to be respectful in the way you phrase your argument. Surely you can appreciate the difference. I’m tired of people who are offensive in the way they phrase their comment either through sarcasm or passive aggression – and then expect that the blogger must bend backwards to be polite to them. I neither need their nastiness or their traffic so that is not happening. Do read DK’s comment since you have such strong opinions – he belongs there so perhaps I’d give him more of a hearing than you because neither you nor I have much experience in the matter

  54. *name changed/web URL not linked. Don’t want to be hunted by the insurgents!!

    Thanks for posting this MM, and creating awareness about the issue.

    I have friends, impressive in GK, who can point out any african/european countries on the map and name their capitals without a blink.. But when I mention I’m from Manipur.. Their mind draws a blank.. Have heard a fair no of.. ‘Manipur, err .. where?’. Sad really..

    The media, I think, is mostly to blame for this unawareness(I may be wrong!!). Just yesterday I read on another blog.. ‘a pothole in delhi gets more coverage that most new worthy incident in the NE’.. Couldn’t agree more with the blogger(couldn’t link, difficult to do so from a mobile). As you pointed out, there are few reports here and there.. But nothing close to the coverage it deserve. That said, Tehelka is doing some awesome work. One particular story(not the one that exposed the photos) has mentiond everything about the issue.. About the problems.. How complex the situation is, and how the govt, insurgents are all connected(believe me, they are!!) and about Manipur being a lawless state.. That was one brilliant article. Even though everyone in Manipur(including the press) already knew what they mentioned, non had to the balls to express.. Or probably they didn’t want to.. 😦 Tehelka did, and I’m glad they did.

    Coming to the AFSPA – while this act does give immense power to the armed forces, I feel it is required to curb insurgency as dialogue hasn’t worked, it becomes evil/draconian only when ‘some’ armed personal starts misusing it. And that, ‘some’ of them have been doing. Have experienced it numerous times myself. While I do feel real bad for the killed armed forces and their family members, I don’t think that gives their colleagues a right to kill/torture innocent civilians. That said, and with much respect to Sharmila, I’m not for withdrawing the AFSPA. I just hope better sense prevails among those ‘few’ misusing the act and use it for the right reasons. That the army(and other forces under the central govt) will take a serious look into the whole situation.

    Why do I want AFSPA?

    You see, an equal(if not more) no of people are killed by the insurgents. In fact, we fear the insurgents more that the armed forces. They are everywhere.. Omnipresent you may saw. While we know many who are/were members of these groups.. we can’t openly talk about/against it.. because we never know if the person we are talking to is also one of them. Cops? Well I know a police commando dating a PLA member… than says a lot. There are families where elder bro is a cop, younger bro is an insurgent!! Even the ministers and other big shots pay money to these insurgents, they have to… 😦

    The insurgents run a parallel govt, collect tax as a percentage of salaries of govt employees(already deducted before it reaches the employee!!). They act as self appointed disciplinarian, poke their nose everywhere. A small family fight between two brother, they will be the one trying to bring ‘justice’.. not the police. A girl elopes with her love, problems between the two families, they will be involved… Want to try leading a normal life, a small business maybe? ‘Business risk’ has a different meaning in Manipur… involves bullets and bombs. Govt contrats, roads, buildngs, highways.. the insurgents are the one taking up these projects. The engineers, ministers work with them, keep them happy…few tried to do things the right way.. as you might have guessed.. these few aren’t alive anymore. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens under their radar. Even though we are fed up, there will never be a Sharmila protesting against them. Unlike the govt who has at least kept Sharmila alive, these insurgents would have silenced her and her supporters long time back… Now you know why you don’t see many protests/bandhs against these insurgents. Most of us don’t support them, we just can’t admit it openly.

    We protest againsts the govt, because we can.. 😦

    @Alok I don’t think Christianity/religion/missionaries has anything to do with the probs out here. And this is coming from an Atheist. Even though I don’t believe in God.. I’m in awe of what Christianity has done for the people here(Nagaland, Mizoram specially).. Manipur and Assam are the only states where Hindus are more in no. The people of Manipur, with a population of around 24 lacs speaks 29 diff tribes/languages.. and yes, there still exists some communal clases.. But not based on religion… both Kukis and Nagas are both christians and have been fighting even before they were christians.

    Nagaland also has lotsa different tribes/languages. But Nagaland is ‘one’ today because of christianity. Talk to any Naga and they will agree ‘Christianity is the best thing that ever happened to Nagaland'(told by a Naga friend).

    The cause of insurgency in Manipur is nothing to do with religion(even if it was, it will be conversion to hinduism from the ancient religion.. Of the 30+ insurgent groups, only a few are from Christian tribes :)), but lets leave that for another discussion.. This comment is too long already.

    Applogies MM for this terribly long comment..!!

    Me: no – this was brilliant. Go on. Tell us more. we need more voices from those parts. More people who can guide us and tell us the truth. After all be it Alok or me, we are only mouthing what we’ve heard.

  55. Dear MM,

    Sorry for troubling you again but my friend (regular reader of your blog who initially lead me to your post) requested to read the debate in comments and having my name mentioned again in posts I had to leave this comment. I would stick to the principles of brevity this time:
    1) If you think I was sarcastic, yes I was but only to not be acerbic and check my own emotional response. However if it hurt your sentiments I’m sorry for it.

    Me: apology accepted.

    2) I had not noted that you write your blog in individual capacity and being a journalist has no bearing on it (though I must confess that I would believe as journalist a person should perhaps be more detail oriented).

    Me: well that is like expecting a doctor’s kids to never fall il abhishek – and yes – if you look one post above or below this one its about my personal life and my kids. i choose to write here precisely because i think my personal blog SHOULD be coloured by my views unlike my professional writing which requires me to be objective. Those who read me (I dont know who your friend is) read me for my personal views and my way of looking at things, not for a balanced newspaper report – the media has that job covered!

    3) I never disrespected your opinion / views (agreed to it in fact) but just wanted to point out the other aspects as well so that who read it can get a semblance of the issue and not just an individual.

    Me: well that is just a matter of semantics isnt it? i found this part of your comment very, very rude –

    “You don’t have to go far to search for dumbness. Look at the comments on your own blog. People can’t differentiate between Manipur and NE. Perhaps they don’t need to either. Aren’t we just Indians. Hypocritically proud Indians refusing to look at Why and just keep ranting about Whats be it as an ignorant commoner or an intellectualised “journalist”.

    If you respect an opinion, try and respond respectfully to show that respect. I didnt like you calling others commenters dumb or hypocritical in so rude a manner. neither did i get your point abt differentiating between manipur and NE. I write as a mother and a woman here which is what my name shows. not as a journalist or else this woudl have been called “the times of XYZ” or something.

    4) Given your reactions to Alok’s comments, let me be bluntly honest, I see a strong resistance to any other view counter to yours. However this is my opinion and as you said its after all your individual page so you have a right to dislike. To quote Maugham “People ask for criticism, but they only want praise”

    Me: That just shows your own inability to see beyond your own point. I asked Alok to be sensitive. I didnt tell him he was wrong or unwelcome to comment. Is THAT your idea of strong resistance?
    the fact that I have responded to him and you shows that dissent it welcome as long as they are not personal. in this case, i felt they were. people who dont welcome dissent simply block ip addresses and delete comments.

    5) Any debate must have a purpose to reach a conclusion, to convince or be convinced. Anything else as you mentioned is pontification.

    Me: It wasnt a debate – where did you see debate. It was a post to create awareness about Irom Sharmila and the situation in Manipur. And it succeeded in that because people are now going to look out for news and read up and NOW begin to create opinions. are you unaware that posts can be written to create awareness and not just to debate? the post was open to ideas and conclusions. give me ideas and be coherent. as it stands your last comment made no sense to me either. you asked a lot of questions and ranted and I couldnt for the life of me figure out where you were going with it. and i say this in all honesty.come back and make your points more coherent …. the irony is that you were as ranty and emotional as you accused me of being. I dont claim to be a political writer either and am as happy to learn about politics as the next person. I loved reading Durlov and DK’s views. Where is the problem here? That I took offence to your and Alok’s rudeness? Jo disagreed with me and I was polite in my response to her because she knows what it is like to register polite dissent.

    6) If you have so much of problem with anyone trying to express freely you should perhaps not leave your emotions open to interpretation or commentary. Just express it and leave it at that.

    Me: And pray how would you suggest one make that difference? Again – your statement here is incoherent. This is a personal blog. This is a post on awareness. What on earth are you trying to interpret of my emotions? The fact that I am sad that she is unheard of and I feel terrible about the state’s suffering? Because there is nothing really much more for you to drag out of it.

    If any of the above sounds like an advice to you remember Wilde’s quote “The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on.”

    @Alok : I must say yours were the most comprehensive views. Thanks for your support but I didn’t feel insulted. Perhaps I even expected it. But my effort was to just bring out the other side and as you also mentioned, not look at things in isolation or try to orient them in an order basis popularity or the lack of it.
    I just hope it made sense to some people. As I said its about the cause and not just an individual. Specially the intellectual(s) of this country who have done little to serve this country or their own intellect (including me perhaps).

    Me: Of course its about the cause. Whats your point?

    Please all those who are reading this post read it in conjunction with Durlov / Alok and DK’s views and perhaps be more open to ideas.

  56. You know, I may get a lot of hate comments for this. But I wonder what we’ve ever done to make people from the North-east feel a part of India.

    They are made to feel like outsiders are called ‘chinkies’, and that so many of us generalise all the states in the North-East whether Assam, Manipur or Mizoram as North-Eastern. That we fail to see them as states with different cultural identities but just as people with small, slanting eyes.

    Take for instancte, the Delhi RJ who made a comment about Prashant Tamang and watchmen? Because that’s the kind of mindset that we’ve been born and brought up with. The stereotypes that we’ve been fed.

    Why is it that out of the seven North-eastern states, four are not connected by railway. For these 7 states, there are only 15 MP’s. Compare that with states such as UP and Bihar which have 88 and 52 MP’s respectively. Is it any wonder then that their needs are not addressed? And this when Assam fulfills 80% of our oil needs.

    In another instance, when the Chinese Prime Minister visited Mumbai, north-eastern students who were leaving my college were picked up by the police and kept at Lamigton Road police station all because they were ‘chinky’ and looked Tibetan, which was a gross injustice by any standards. Most of them were just leaving college when they were picked up and they didn’t even have any idea that the Chinese PM was visiting Mumbai.

    How come none of the mainstream media made a hue and cry about that?

    And the more I hear about the Army, the more I am appalled, like I’ve said before, I’ve always held the Army in high esteem but that image is slipping with everything I hear. The stories I’ve heard in Kashmir and in the north-east have shaken me up. But to a certain extent, when you give someone total power, there will be a certain misuse of it.

  57. MM- many of your readers might feel that we (rather “I”) have brought religion into this discussion…….

    My answer to them would be that- I did that for following reasons:

    ~ I am aware of Sharmila and her crusade…it was no news for me and I was taking the discussion to the next level…

    ~ I have relatives who have served in armed forces and RAW and have been based in Dimapur (if iam right,command HQ in NE) and have taken place in various operations like Bajarang etc…..and their side of stories have shaped up my opinion…..

    ~ Thirdly and for the last time, I don’t think that I was rude……I was putting forward my opinion in response to a post by a blogger in your capacity as a blogger and not as a practitoner of a religion…..I have said this in my email and want to reiterate again that I have nothing against any religion……

    Lastly, please appreciate that people who have helped shaped my opinion have faced bullets in that region…..served in that region for many years at a strech and have seen it all before hand…..

    Thanks and peace!

  58. oh betty?! darling, do come back when you’re not frothing at the mouth 🙂 It will be my pleasure to hear what you have to say when you are more coherent and less hysterical. As for the tired old rant of how I am intolerant of other opinions.. yawwnnn.. I’ve heard that before. Say something useful about the post if you want to be published. All you’ve done is curse and abuse and froth and say you don’t like me but like my blog. yawwnn….

    Until then yes, this might blog might be open to public but as I am tired of saying it IS my personal blog so personal attacks wont be published. Do appreciate that. Goodnight!

  59. Oh I didnt know about this. It is good that you wrote about this issue.. It gave me good knowledge and I went up and read more about the poor lady.

  60. I totally agree with you about how people totally right off the North East. I mean, forget about pointing Manipur out on a map, they can’t even name the seven sisters or differentiate Shillong from the state of Sikkim. It is possibly as bad or even worse than the notion that “all South Indians are Madrasis”. The ignorance about and discrimination against the region and people from there is extremely frustrating and disheartening.

  61. Mea Culpa of being ignorant..
    And my first reaction was to blame the media , like a few other commentors here, for sensationalising trivia and sweeping aside important issues. I then paused to ask myself why does the media do that, and the answer is obvious of course..sensationalism sells. Besides I think we as a society are generally apathetic to something that does not immediately affect us. So why only the NE, most of us will read/see news about the rest of India and move on. But when there is a fire in our own backyard, we will start reacting.

  62. yea yea..don’t publish but do try to LEARN somethin out of it…..
    goodbye

    Me: oh goody – A comment from you that isnt abusive. you’re learning! Excellent. We’re getting somewhere. Now keep it up and learn to make your point politely and you might soon be tolerable!

  63. I think there are three reasons for this indifference, all of which are linked. People in an open society are sensitized to issues by the media.

    Even an activist media (Like the TOI) must pick and choose what to represent, and one doesn’t blame them for that. They need readership after all. Atrocities in the Northeast are not represented in the media probably because people are not too interested in them.

    The second reason is that people from the NE are not diffusing fast enough into the rest of the country. Sure, people see a lot of them in colleges but I don’t see them much elsewhere. As they start to spread throughout the country however, the media will start picking up on stories from the NE, if not for any other reason than that there will be readers from the NE to cater to.

    Since their diffusion into society is a matter of time, these issue too will be addressed by the national media. However, it would be interesting to see what local newspapers in that area talk about and whether they have an activist agenda for their own population.

    Which finally comes to education of the people and whether they are aware of their rights and how well they respond to newspapers etc. Which in turn is probably linked to economic development.

    I’ve just re read that last paragraph and realized that’s not what I wanted to say when I started!

    As the Oracle said, “It is a pickle, no doubt about it!” But I feel that given the factors at work, there is good reason to hope.

    Me: LOL! Don’t worry about it. I do that all the time. Write a post and realise that is not what I wanted to say when I started

  64. Pingback: They caved « The Mad Momma

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