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Northeast Not Homogenous But Diverse Grouping of Communities

"The challenge for people like us is to find that space. If at all it still exists," Bakshi concludes

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Nepal
This photograph taken from a helicopter shows an aerial view of Mount Everest in Nepal's Solukhumbu district, some 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Kathmandu, on Nov. 22, 2018. VOA

By Vishnu Makhijani

Some years ago, I was startled at a seminar titled “Seeking our collective peace: The northeast India diaspora looks into solutions for peace and development in the region”. Startled because to me, “diaspora” denoted a group of people voluntarily living outside their homeland.

Then I realised it could be a case of misconstrued semantics because, in the words of Professor Anuradha Chenoy, a former dean at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, “This meeting was just a start of a long journey, but the most important lesson learned today is that first the Northeast has to be linked together –politically, economically and culturally — before it can positively influence the peace process in the region.”

Cut to the present day agitation against the now-lapsed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in seven of the eight northeastern states (Sikkim being the exception) and it would seem that the region is pretty much linked together even though there are differences, for instance, on the demand for a Greater Nagaland or the internal squabbles in Manipur, for instance.

Where then, does the faultline lie? It lies within.

“What is called the Northeast is not a homogenous entity. It is rather a diverse grouping of communities — this is mentioned time and again, and is correct, but how it works out on the ground has to be studied as well,” says author-journalist Ankush Saikia in the chapter titled “Man in the Middle” in “Insider Outsider – Belonging and Unbelonging in North-East India” (Amaryllis/pp 244/Rs 399), a compendium of works by 16 writers on various facets of existence within the region.

The creator of the Detective Arjun Arora series of books adopts a rather quaint manner of elaborating on this in the post 1972 scenario when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam and Shillong was no longer the parent state’s capital.

“While in Assam, I was an insider and while in Shillong, I was an outsider, but even there overlaps occurred, as I might be an outsider in certain contexts in Assam, and an insider in certain contexts in Shillong….I think the end result of this was that, again maybe unconsciously, I found it very difficult to chose sides,” Saikia writes.

The Lalung tribe is also known as Tiwa tribe, an indigenous tribal community from northeast India. Wikimedia Commons

And therein lies the rub — a rub that those of my ilk, born in the 1950s realise quite acutely of being neither here nor there.

It raises a fundamental question, as co-editor Preeti Gill, an independent literary agent, puts it in the introduction to the volume.

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“Who is an Indian really? Why are we made to wear our nationality, our identity, on our sleeve? Why are we required to constantly prove ourselves as Indian nationalists, as patriotic citizens? Can we not just be human, people who live together as neighbours , very different, very distinct, but still inhabiting the same space in a peaceable, gracious way,” Gill asks. “It is a reality that in this country, and especially in the hill states of the Northeast, there is no space to be just Indian. One remembers the lines by the Sufi poet Bulleh Shah, who wrote: ‘O Bulle, let’s go to that place/ Where people have not too much intelligence/For there, nobody will ask of our roots and look down upon us/And nor do we desire that they look up to us.’

“The challenge for people like us is to find that space. If at all it still exists,” Bakshi concludes. (IANS)

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LinkedIn ‘Open For Business’ Feature In India

LinkedIn introduces its 'Open For Business' feature in India

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LinkedIn
LinkedIn introduces a feature that supports small and medium businesses (SMBs) and freelancers across the world. Pixabay

Microsoft-owned professional networking platform LinkedIn on Monday launched “Open for Business” in India — a feature that allows freelancers and small business owners to add their services to their LinkedIn profiles.

Initially rolled out in the US in July, the feature is now live in India and rest of the world and is a way for freelancers and small businesses to indicate they are “open for business”.

Acording to the company, this feature underlines its commitment to supporting small and medium businesses (SMBs) and freelancers across the world.

“With 660 million members and 30 million companies on the platform across the world, LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to help freelancers and small businesses be more productive and successful, whether they are based in Dubai or Dundee (Scotland),” Allen Blue, Co-founder and VP of Product Management, LinkedIn, said in a statement.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is uniquely positioned to help freelancers and small businesses be more productive and successful. Pixabay

Based on the company’s research, small businesses are found to rely heavily on word of mouth, in order to bring in new customers.

“Open for Business” aims to digitise this word of mouth concept by making it easy for members to find, message, and provide references to each other.

With over 60 million users, India is LinkedIn’s fastest-growing and largest market outside the US.

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The company last month rolled out a ‘Made in India’ feature called ‘Events’ that allows members to create and attend events directly on both the app as well the web globally.

The USP of the product is the ability to enable safe online conversations and offline events. (IANS)