BY- JAYA CHOUDHARY
Casual racism towards north-eastern Indians is well ingrained in the Indian subcontinent. It might happen right in front of our eyes and we may not even perceive it as a racist act. Racism against them is so pervasive that it was on the verge of being mainstream. The issue surfaced again in media in recent days when a racial insult directed to an Arunachal Pradesh MLA by a Punjab-based YouTuber sparked a two-hour Twitter storm, fueling a ‘know northeast’ campaign.
The initiative has received the backing of more than 25 student organizations from around the Northeast. It also includes the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Congress student union National Students Union of India (NSUI). To combat prejudice, the students are requesting that the central government should add a chapter on north-eastern history and culture in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) curriculum.
One tweet read “The Mughals could not assault ASSAM 17 times in a row. NORTHEAST INDIA is the ONLY PART OF INDIA that the Mughals failed to conquer throughout their two-century reign. Do you believe that #ASSAM#AHOMS#NE merits a chapter in NCERT?”
— NSUI Nagaland (@NSUINagaland) June 4, 2021
As a proud citizen of India, I want our textbooks to include all its colours and glory. So I request concerned authorities to include a chapter about NE in @ncert syllabus. #AchapterforNE #NortheastMatters @EduMinOfIndia pic.twitter.com/LLNJxsTsPz
— Hima (mon jai) (@HimaDas8) June 4, 2021
The campaign was triggered by Paras Singh, a 21-year-old Punjabi YouTuber, who made nasty remarks against an MLA from Arunachal Pradesh. He not only claimed that he does not look like an Indian, but he also said that Arunachal Pradesh does not appear to be a part of India. Paras, who is from Ludhiana, displayed a photo of Congress MLA Ninong Ering from Arunachal Pradesh and remarked that he did not seem like an Indian.
As a result, the Arunachal Pradesh government has launched a complaint against him for inciting ill will and hatred, as well as spreading hostility between various communities based on residency. Not very long ago, in March 2020 a lady from Delhi University’s North Campus was spit on and referred to as a “coronavirus.” There has been a rash of similar attacks and discriminatory acts since this incident in the country.
Violence and stigmatization of persons from the northeast who move to cities for education and job is not a rare phenomenon. It has been dormant in the country and occasionally comes out in the most heinous and disheartening manner. In April 2012, two students from the North East, Richard Loitam and Dana Sylvia Sangma died as a result of racial prejudice in Bengaluru, sparking nationwide demonstrations.
The continuing racist abuse against people from the North-East by their fellow residents, despite legal protection, demonstrates that the legal measures are simply insufficient. The best way to remedy this problem is to educate people. Education is one of the most important factors in closing the gap between North East India and the rest of the country. The moment has arrived, and it is now.