Dear Honorable Prime Minister,
Belated Diwali wishes to you and Merry Christmas in advance. For you to envision the snooping essayist, I would request you to close your eyes and envisage a medium height male with a Taqiyah over his head, short oriental eyes, uncut Kesh, and dark skin. Not an attempt to disguise my identity, but perhaps represent the entire concept called India in flesh and blood.
I just used the term – “concept” for a nation of 1.2 billion which on its face value might demean our whole existence. But in the true sense, none of us can deny the fact that we are a delicately held conglomerate of people from Aryan, Dravidian, Mongolian, Sayyids and even Persian origins. While we thrive on the epic unity-in-diversity phrase, we frequently experience the momentary lapse of reason where this very diversity is made the source of hatred and discrimination. For the balance to shift between a fact or fiction (or concept as I love calling it), and our tolerance to turn into mayhem takes moments.
Dear Sir, since time is of essence, I’ll jump straight to the point. A very recent series of events shook my belief in the literal relevance of democracy in my country for a wee bit. This was Butterfly Effect at its best. One flap of a seagull in the Irrawaddy river valley changed the climate for north-east Indian citizens in the city of Bangalore (among other cities), pushing thousands of them to flee to the railway station in the blink of an eye. Many of us, Indians at heart tried our bit to discourage students, professionals, security guards, and restaurant waiters from the north-east to abscond for security in their own country. “They will spot me for my small eyes and hair”. Yes, things did return to normal in a month as it always does. But the Einstein in me believes that just like energy, hatred and insecurity cannot be destroyed. They are here to stay, perhaps in the subconscious of every victim.
Time and again, we hear people with compassion and conscience making little noises about the neglected north-east on public and social forums. We do hear of militancy, illegal immigrations, the economic blockades, the life threatening inflation rates, the lack of employment opportunities and the growing sense of dissatisfaction and separatist feelings in certain corners. But then we conveniently choose to get over it and focus on “larger” issues.
Dear Sir, you would certainly be among the first few mortals to know that it all starts with a human touch. Why should an Indian citizen residing in the north-east have to wait for 5 years to see you or one of your top ministers in person? I remember queuing up with thousands of others each time an Indian PM visited Guwahati or Agartala or Shillong once in a blue-moon. Why do the funds allocated for the development of north-east evaporate in thin air while being transported from New Delhi to Itanagar? A central committee that liaises directly with the grass root level (such as municipal or BDOs) to monitor the utilization of the funds like in Venezuela for instance could yield transparency into the system. While the North-east should have been ruling the taglines of all marketing collaterals of Indian tourism, I see a gloomy NE in the global light-map. The most virgin of landscapes, the rarest of flaura and fauna deserve appreciators across the world with relaxed “innerline permits”. And how do we have the most colossal of inflation rates in Manipur and the likes while the greatest economists oversee the functioning of our financial machinery? A soft issue, but I also see that they ban Hindi movies in theatres in certain towns in the north-east. This is nothing but a natural outburst of a disgruntled people, tired of years of neglect in their very own nation. In a perfect utopia, Hindi would unite all of us brothers across far flung villages and cosmopolitan cities. More than imposing it, perhaps a direct communication with the real people would a bridge the gap, get us closer.
I could go on sir, but then you have a million other letters from my compassionate fellow Indians to attend to. All I appeal at the end of it, is for you to instigate that human connect with your own people in the far-flung north-east. After all, they too cheer when we add a new Nuclear capability, or defend the border in Kargil, or walk the red carpet in the Oscars or win an Olympic silver (even though the gold eludes us each time)!
Image Courtesy: [The Viewspaper]
Disclaimer: The above article is the personal opinion of the author and not of the publication.