Friday, August 17, 2012

National solidarity questioned

The unprecedented exodus of people of north east India from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, and some other parts of the country, seen in such a large scale only the second time after the Partition, brings in many questions, but only a few solutions. Definitely this is not the solution the NE people are looking for, not the remedy for the growing sense of insecurity that has crept in in their minds, triggered primarily by the hate campaigns against them. The government, at this critical stage, is clueless and has been unable to convince the people about their safety, and that's a shame! Questions have come up, and unfortunately they are many:

1. Who is conspiring the hate campaigns? Is it any political front or party? Is it some regional party from NE itself? Or is it some miscreant, freak who is now simply sitting at the comfort of his home and enjoying the situation? Or is it some fool who spread it without even realizing that the situation would become so serious? Whoever it is, it should be immediately brought into public knowledge. The intelligence has to play a decisive role in this.

2. Why is this hatred after all? Is it simply because the NE people do not look like the rest of the Indians? If that is so, there cannot be more shameful a reason for a country that is aspiring to become a global power and seeks a permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Or the hatred is because the NE people have a slightly different lifestyle and standards of moral and social values, which the rest of India cannot identify with? If that is so, then the situation is much more dangerous, and will take atleast another two decades to heal. No government action and regulation can overnight bring this change of understanding. It will take years to revolutionise people's minds. I will come back to this issue later in this note.

3. Are the NE people responsible for such hatred? I would say yes, if being within one's community and not mixing up with others much or rather not trying to interfere with other's affairs much is a crime. I would say yes, if eating nonvegetarian food is a crime. I would say yes, if being well-literate and having an advanced knowledge of the western cultures is a crime!

I remember a dialogue from the movie Swadesh, where Shahrukh Khan argues with villagers that "koi bhi desh mahaan nahi hota, use mahaan banaana padta hai". It's unfortunate but true that india as a society has many evils, which have been recently widely broadcast in Aamir Khan's production "Satyamev Jayate"; I salute Aamir Khan for being brave and coming out and raising his voice against social evils of India such as dowry, marital clashes, women atrocities, alcoholism, infanticide, and many more. Throughout these episodes, one might miss, that went almost unnoticed and not much appreciated, but equally heartening to know, that NE India stood out as a region where most of these social dogmas do not exist at all, barring modern-day evils such as alcoholism and drug addiction! What does it convey? North East lies in the fringes of India, but ask any man from the region about the stories that he has grown up hearing, and you will hear Panchatantra, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. etc. It's the same cultural traits that runs through the region, it's the same moral values that the people percieves there, but with varying degrees.

India will measurably fail as a federal democracy if each and every region within its politico-cultural periphery is not provided with the same amount of importance or attention. Thee will be cultural and ethical differences among various regions that will lead to sudden and terrifying culture shocks to different people at different regions. This will prompt people to become more regionalistic, more separatist, more self-concerned. The unity of the country will be gone and there will be no slogan such as "unity in diversity".

I may be pessimistic in presenting a sorry situation, but it won't take long to become a reality if right measures are not taken immediately to remedy it. The majority of India does not live in cities and metros, but in villages, and villages are where moral and ethical values of a largely agricultural country like India grow. The central as well as the state governments look at the progressive India from an urban point of view, and the aspirations of becoming a modern advanced nation and a world power is an urban middle-class dream; the rural India is largely concerned about livelihood. It's high time our intellectuals, our politicians, our media understand what real India comprises of and try and nourish a new, modern social and moral ethics of India, the roots of which runs through the veins of the rural. India needs to change, and drastically.

India's education system since Independance has failed measurably to bring solidarity of the country. For example, take a social studies textbook of any of the education boards that runs schools in our country. There will not be a chapter on the history, culture, geography, industry, and the people of NE India. NE India is still not part of the pan-India concept, and is referred to as "our brothers and sisters". Why not the "our" incorporate the NE people also, why should they be brothers and sisters only? All the education commissions of Govt of India have maintained a policy of alienation while developing a national curriculla, be it primary, elementary, or higher education. Ask an average Indian student about a single martyr from NE India who sacrificed his/her life in the struggle for India's independance, he will not be able to recollect; ask how many times the mighty Mughals invaded Assam and how many times they were repulsed and by which Assamese hero, he will not be able to answer. Even if you ask a general question like what is the staple food the north easterners and the student will fail to understand, and will wonder what could be the staple food other than roti and vegetable. He will be shocked to know that many of the populations in NE still survive on tubers which has been their staple food since prehistoric times.

These are uncomfortable questions, but are true and need to be answered immediately by various sections. I may have been a little biased in projecting the issue at hand, and may have given the impression that it has been throughout the fault of "pan-India" and north easterners are innocent and are devoid of any social evils. I will be wrong if I have stated so, but highlighting those is not the objective of this note. My only appeal to everyone including the people from North East, in this hour of crisis, is to think of an assimilative, unbiased, open solution, forgetting their micro cultural and social differences, and help build a strong nation, one of solidarity, which can rise to challenges coming from any quarter as a single unit, as one society, as one nation.

Satyameva Jayate!

1 comment:

lopamudra maitra said...

very true. On one hand is the question of incentives, pressures, expansion (?) due to globalisation- but the other hand seems too full with features that needs serious thinking. Wonder about when the balance will break-even?