How complete is the idea of India as a Nation ? This question is significant in the face of the fact that the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has just come out with a comprehensive book in order to sensitise the students about North East India. Sensitise the students about a region of the country and this is more than enough indication that to many students and people in mainland India, the idea of the country does not go beyond the narrow corridor that links the North East with mainland India.
Effectively underlining the point that to many, the region that lies to the east of the Brahmaputra is ‘foreign land’. It is this mindset which has given birth to such terms as ‘chinky,’ ‘momo,’ ‘ching chong Chinaman’-terms which are used to derogatorily refer to people from the North East. That it took the brutal killing of a young student, Nido Tania, at Delhi in 2014, to jolt the sense of the country should say something profound. Nido’s death is not the lone case for there have been many other cases of suck killings in racial attacks, and one just has to remember the deaths of Richard Loitam, Reingamphy and many others to drive home the point that is sought to be made here.
the NCERT book has come rather late in the day, but nevertheless it is good that such a book has indeed been published and this should more than say that in the years since India attained independence in 1947, the North East has existed at the periphery of the Nation’s consciousness. Look up any book on the history of India and there is hardly any mention of the region. No wonder young students in mainland India grow up with limited knowledge, unaware that the country stretches to the east beyond the Brahmaputra. That India is also home to people belonging to the Mongoloid race and not all look like the typical Indians in mainland India is a truism that has not registered in the minds of many in mainland India.
Making the young students aware of the North East is welcome, but yet at the same time it also needs to be reminded to all that apart from the knowledge of the region, what is needed is a change in mindset. A mindset which should say that people whose staple diet is rice and not roti are not anything different from the roti eating people of mainland India. The change in mindset can come about only with education and it is here that one should admit that the education system in the country has been found wanting in many aspects.
Education should not only be about scoring marks and marks, but should also be about training the young minds to accept what is different from what they have been seeing and experiencing. So apart from the history of the North East, perhaps the young students of mainland India may also be taught on how to treat or approach people who do not necessarily look like them. That is teach them to appreciate the difference between different sets of people. Apart from this, it is also important to suggest to the young students of the North East who go to mainland India for their higher studies to discard the ghetto mentality and learn to mix around with others. It is also important for all to respect the local sentiments of the place they are in. The reaching out and understanding part should be a two way process.
Source: The Sangai Express