A little incident back in my university days. A classmate from the Manipur, T, had accompanied me to the University Library to get our membership formalities done.
We both had the necessary documentation like receipts and i-Cards. After I was handed my membership card, it was her turn. The conversation went thus:
Clerk: Sagle ‘dacuments’ ahet ka?
T: Sorry..I don’t understand, can you speak in English?
Clerk: Kay phoren hun yeta..kay mahit nasta..you have all dacuments?
T: Yes, here is the receipt and the I card.
Clerk: Where is foreign student’s ID?
T: Foreign student? But I am from Manipur….
Clerk: That is like foreign only…kashala ikde lamb yetat..bhasha mahit nahi dhad
Finally, I had to interrupt in Marathi and get the fool to accept all her ‘dacuments’.
A recent Economist article by their S-A correspondent has re-highlighted this feeling of alien-ness that the people from NE India are subject to. They has never been an attempt o mingle them with mainstream. An occasional visit by the PM or the President in a decade is all they get. Then there are the army atrocities under the protection of a very very colonial law. This gives them licenses to shoot first and ask questions later.
The questions remain:
Why are they treated like refugees in their own land?
Has there been any attempt to find out what is it they want rather than what their politicians want?
Why have they been out of the limelight of progress and mainstream development?
Why has AIDS become an epidemic there?
We are all so busy showing off the IT super power status and how we are poised on the brink of a great leap forward….
Are we poised to prevent this leap backwards?