A Stronger Northeast, A Stronger India
Renowned film director and producer Karan Johar has expressed regret for his ‘foot in mouth’ comment regarding North-East. But the matter doesn’t end with Mr. Johar’s apology. There is a long list of famous personalities who have made unsavoury comments regarding the region and not all of them, like Mr. Johar have expressed their regrets. Rather, they tried to argue that their understanding about the region is better than the local populace.
It’s a pity that this trend has been continuing since Independence. Many mainlanders have never tried to understand the region. As a result, notwithstanding the region being part and parcel of the country, sons of the soil started feeling neglected. To make matters worse, no efforts have been made to redress genuine grievances of the people of North-East. On the other hand, agitations and protests have always been dealt with strong arms, which has made people of the region feel more alienated.
There is no gainsaying that North-East has contributed its might in nation building. Though not much is being said about the region’s contribution during freedom struggle, the fact remains that people of region like others in the country fought against the Britishers. From freedom struggle to Kargil conflict, whenever the nation faced crisis, North-Easterners were always at the forefront. But what was given in return? The architect of keeping North-East with India late Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi was awarded ‘Bharat Ratna,’ nearly half a century after the acquired freedom. The man who was the captain of Independent India’s first football team in London Olympics in 1948, Dr. T. Ao never got due recognition. When Manipur first placed its bid to host national games, objections were raised that as the State is far away from mainland, athletes will not be able to perform to their potential due to fatigue. And the more recent example is when the local populace have been virtually swamped away by outsiders, the Centre is planning to bring a new citizenship Act which will harm the region most.
Incidents of such neglect are galore as far as North-East is concerned. Accords or forces are not the solutions of the problems the region is facing now. The solution lies in not repeating the neglect, removing the sense of alienation from the minds of North-Easterners. The populace there is deprived of everything. Even basic amenities of life are still to reach many places of the region. It is time now to bring North-East at par with rest of the country. Cosmetic measures such as announcing sops or one time grant will not be sufficient. Need of hour is to study the problems thoroughly and remove the bottlenecks for development in a time-bound manner.
Ignorance may be forgiven. But no compromises will ever be made if anyone shows any disrespect towards the region. No Act should thrust upon the region ignoring the ground realities. Since the last seven decades the region has suffered most. Now it is time to reverse the trend. Give North-East its rightful place to make the nation stronger.