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North-east traders aim to expand trade via Pragati Maidan fair

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New Delhi: Exhibitors from northeast Indian states like Nagaland, Assam and Manipur hope to spread awareness about their homeland and expand business at the ongoing 35th edition of India International Trade Fair here.

Be it dry flowers made from corn, maize or mushroom, or tea and traditional outfits, the stalls of northeast India are offering all this and more at the fair, which will conclude on November 27 at Pragati Maidan.

“It’s my first time here. Dry flowers are very popular in Delhi, so my friends told me to participate in the fair,” flower designer Aren Jamir from Nagaland told IANS.

Another exhibitor from the state brought colourful dreamcatchers (a handmade object based on a hoop that is hung by the window or at the head of a bed for good luck) to the fair. Women can also buy earrings and neckpieces inspired by the dreamcatcher in colours like yellow, red and purple, to up the fashion quotient.

The Nagaland stall also has loin loom products, shawls with shells, bags, jackets and mobile phone pouches.

“We have fests and exhibitions in Nagaland too and we earn profit. Delhi is expensive, but we are here to find new customers and to promote our products,” said Asezo Khanyo, a weaver from Nagaland.

And of course, the dry king chilli, dry bamboo shoot and sticky rice also made it to the shelves of the stall.

One exhibitor from Assam hopes to make the most of the business days, which are on at the fair till November 18.

“I would love the public to buy as many products as possible from our stall, but even business days are important. There are so many business people from other parts of the country and abroad. So, I hope we are able to strike a deal with them,” said Kamal Deka, a salesman of tea company J.M. Enterprise.

The Assam stall also has eri and muga silk products, handmade paper made from sugarcane and citronella plant for home decor, water hyacinth bags, bamboo spoons and knives.

The Manipur stall, offering traditional wares, also has lots of handloom products — muga silk, kurtas, dupattas, phanek and jackets.

“There are lots of Manipuri women in Delhi and since it’s festive season, we thought of bringing all these products. Women from North India can wear the saris, if not the phanek (wraparound outfit for women),” said S. Chaotombi from Manipur.

Tripura’s stall has mostly housed cane furniture, which aroused interest in a lot of consumers on the first day of the exposition.

Cane products like glass-holders, pen stands, cups and plates can also be bought from Meghalaya stall.

(IANS)

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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)