Would India’s northeast be better off with China?
February 6, 2014, 2:04 PM IST Jug Suraiya in Juggle-Bandhi | India | TOI
Every time Beijing lays claim to the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as being part of its national territory, New Delhi’s hackles rise. Arunachal, as indeed all the northeastern states, are indisputably part of the Indian Union.
Or are they? While political India claims sovereignty over them, so-called ‘mainstream’ India – another, and misleading, word for the Hindi-Hindu belt – treats them like foreigners.
The tragic case of Nido Tania, the young student from Arunachal Pradesh, who was beaten to death in New Delhi after he got into an altercation with ruffians who had cast a racial slur at him is just one of a long list of hate crimes against people from the northeast when they come to the Indian heartland.
Because Nido was the son of a Congress MLA, his case has drawn VVIP attention: Rahul Gandhi has publicly expressed his support and sympathy for all those from the northeast, and home minister Shinde has told the police to expedite their investigations.
Just four days before Nido was fatally attacked, two women from Manipur were assaulted by a bunch of goons, barely a few kilometres from where the young student from Arunachal was fatally beaten up.
In both these cases – and in all the countless such incidents that go unreported and unrecorded, precisely because they are so common that no one bothers to take note of them – the only provocation was that the victims looked ‘different’ from what Indians are ‘meant’ to look like – whatever that might mean.
People from the northeast are routinely labelled ‘Chinki’. They are frequently asked if they eat dogs, and are presumed by many so-called ‘mainstream’ Indians to be sexually promiscuous, particularly in the case of women who are made to suffer offensive physical and verbal advances.
Days after Nido’s death, newly-appointed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal promised a number of measures to help fight such racist discrimination, including making a study of the history of the northeast mandatory in schools and the appointing of a special panel comprising people from the region to look into cases of such hate crimes.
Welcome as these and similar proposals are, the question that arises is: Why are such special protective measures necessary at all? Why is Indian society so hostile to anyone who doesn’t in appearance or custom fit into a cookie-cutter stereotype of what being an ‘Indian’ means?
Despite the national mantra of ‘Unity in diversity’, India is increasingly becoming more and more intolerant of any form of difference from the ‘mainstream’, whether that difference is of ethnic appearance or that of sexual preference, as shown by the Supreme Court’s recent ‘recriminalising’ of homosexuality.
Minorities of any kind – ethnic, religious or sexual – feel increasingly unsafe in an India which seems growingly allergic to any kind of heterogeneousness, any kind of diversity or difference.
Political India insists that the northeast is part of the Indian republic, ‘mainstream’ India rejects – often with extreme violence – all ‘foreign-looking’ northeasterners.
So, would our northeastern states be better off with China, or at least better off independent of India?
Nido Tania might have had an answer to that question. And he might have been alive today to answer it if he hadn’t been compelled to be part of a country whose self-appointed ‘mainstream’ hates all people like him.Nido Tania
Jug SuraiyaJug Suraiya
A former associate editor with the Times of India, Jug Suraiya writes two regular columns for the print edition, Jugular Vein, which appears every Friday, and Second Opinion, which appears on Wednesdays. He also writes the script for three cartoon strips. Two are in collaboration with Ajit Ninan, Like That Only which appears twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday and Power Point which appears on the Edit page of Times of India every Thursday. He also does a joint daily cartoon strip which appears online in collaboration with Partho Sengupta. His blog takes a contrarian view of topical and timeless issues, political, social, economic and speculative.
•Pekanbaru•1 year ago
China made a grave mistake of letting Arunachal Pradesh back to Indian colonialist after beating them in 62 war. It would have been better to join China. Well, it is not too late, rise now.
•Shillong•1 year ago
We are not a dog or cow give us freedom. It is better for us die as a king than to live as slave of Indian and Bangladeshi Wake Northeast will fight together for freedom..
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•Tiruchirappalli, India•1 year ago
reply to kartashokyes off course why not....we are readyso tell india to hand over NE region to china....actually this should be done in 1962...actually at that time we feel that india is unity in diversity which is not all....i dont like whoever dint respect my people...
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•NEW DELHI•1 year ago
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•Location•1 year ago
North East cannot be better off with China. It will be converted into living hell if ever it goes to China. See the plight of Tibet...