The Other Side of the Coin: Counter view on NE Discrimination

Posted on February 25, 2014

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The entire North East (NE) Indian community today here in Delhi is slightly agitated. The age old issue of racial discrimination against the community is back again and this time things tend to be little more vocal then what used to be earlier. A lot has been talked and discussed about of the plight of the NE people here in India. There has been talks about exclusive hostels in Delhi only for North East students. Special pamphlets and hot line numbers are being issued to counter NE racial attack.

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But the question here remains, are these special discussions and steps taken curbing racial discrimination or actually instigating discrimination. Veteran journalist Sanjoy Hazarika, who currently is with the Center for North East Studies and Policy Research at Jamia Millia Islamia University says, “If you want to be understood, you can’t live in isolation. This sort of measure reinforces the stereotypes and the feeling that these guys want to live in groups.”

The issue of discrimination of NE people is deeply associated with the issue of negligence. If the question about negligence is asked to any person from the North Eastern region, the most obvious answer would looks and language barrier. And ‘maybe’ also 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. Yes, here looks do instigate racism. But the lack of a concrete reason also speaks of some ignored facts which also needs to be really talked off.

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 problems, and so many others; of which a solution is still awaited. But all we have is a ‘Special Status’ and that is where believe the root problem lies.

Today if any student from the student plan to study in Delhi, the first advise from the parents of the region would be, “You are going out of North East. Be careful, people there do not hold a good view about us. They discriminate us, don’t get involved with anyone.”

This is again a problem. After hearing about this ‘special status’ for years, a mentality is set inside every house hold in the region that people outside the state will have a special view on you. And even if they do not, you come out with such extra attention that makes you extra cautious which catches people’s eye.

This advice from parents embed an element of regionalism into the students. It is usually seen that students from North East congregated together in the Capital. In fact to be blunt enough and case specific, majority of Assamese parents 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.

A Gujarati student from Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University says, “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 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.

The fact that residents of the region are discriminated is not denied. But what needs to be understood is that the problems lie in both the ends. What is being ignored in all the television debates and discussions is our part. Before a finger is pointed at others, things from our end needs to be rectified. There are habits which needs to be changed and there are issues which needs to talked about. Yes, it has been quite sometime, but jumping into a conclusion so abruptly doesn’t seem to be appreciable option.

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