We, The People of a United India?

india_map.gif“Why do people in the Tibetan market charge us INDIANS more money than they charge you North Eastern people?”
It seems like just a simple question to an onlooker but the implications are noteworthy. More often than not, people use terms like ‘we INDIANS’ and the North Easterns or South Indians. Is it just ignorance or sheer indifference on the part of each individual of India?

An alert mind makes one notice many restaurants having huge menu boards reading something like “INDIAN food and SOUTH INDIAN food available”. In this context, I put forth this question: is South India and North-East India a different region from India? It is my opinion that there is a serious problem of an identity crisis within the country. We, the people from these regions, are better known as “that chink” or “that mallu“. These are lines closely associated with us, the North-East Indians and South Indians.

Our educated society, unfortunately, comprises of literate and yet, extremely ignorant individuals. Learning to read and write makes one literate but not necessarily educated. Why does it become so difficult to treat the minorities as normal human beings? Most people have a problem with the lifestyle of the North-East Indian people – the way we eat, the way we dress and the way we live. This has to change.

The major area of disdain is the way we dress. But then, halter tops and hot pants are a favorite with all the fashion conscious youth and not just the ‘North Easterners’. Living relations are passé with a majority of the youth believing in independent lifestyles, not just the North Eastern youth. The question that still remains is how Indians are different from the North Eastern people.

Today, when most of us leave our smaller hometowns to enter big cities with big dreams, such issues sometimes let us down. There is no sense of belonging and no sense of unity. There is nothing but increasing alienation. We love our culture, our land, our language and we would want to save it without being taunted or humiliated for doing so. Is it a sin, then, to just be who we are?

Time changes the way we view things and all I want is acceptance of us as we are and as a part of everything. Sixty years ago, Nehru dreamt of a “United India”, the dream lives on and all we can hope is for the dream to survive. Through this article, all I hope is to bring home a certain level of consciousness about the way the minorities survive. Hence, the next time a North-East Indian or a South Indian passes us, let it not be “oh there goes a chink or a mallu” but “there goes another INDIAN.”

Dipti Tamang