From the usage of derogatory terms like ‘chinki’ and ‘chinese’ to the common badmouthing revolving around Northeast women being ‘easy’, it is high time that we stop claiming that racism does not exist in our country.
In fact, every person from the Northeastern states, who have relocated from their native towns and villages for better education and employment opportunities, have been subjected to varying degrees of racial discrimination in ‘mainland’ India at some point in their lives.
This holds true especially in the light of the recent incident at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai, where a young woman was being openly subjected to harassment and rude gestures by a group of Chennayin supporters during a match.
And this has not been a standalone incident and nor has the attitude been restricted to everyday racism in the society.
The mysterious death of Loitam Richard, a Manipuri student in Bengaluru, the murder of Naga girl Ramchanphy Hongray in New Delhi and the alleged suicide of Meghalayan student Dana Sangma are some of the ghastly incidents in the recent past, apart from many unreported cases of rape that lay emphasis on the outsider attitude that we, as a society, have been rendering the northeasten communities with.
In 2012, the Ministry of Home Affairs had finally mandated all the states and union territories to penalise anyone who commits an act of atrocity against people from the region under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Also, it is now a criminal offence to call someone a ‘chinki’ that could straightaway land you in jail for up to five years.
But on a serious note, little has been done to alleviate the rising discrimination against northeastern citizens.
While we take a greater stance at condemning racism in Western countries, we conveniently choose to ignore and overlook the same attitude when directed at our fellow citizens.
To begin with, the mindset that one’s community is superior to the other has to be changed, and this has to begin with schools and colleges and most importantly, from one’s home.
Come to think of it, we take great pride in celebrating the pristine beauty and mystical charm of the Northeast and tout it as the next best tourist destination in the country.
It is quite hypocritical on our part as a nation when we remain aloof and indifferent to the way the citizens from the region have been treated and one could as well as go to the extent of saying that we have failed them on multiple occasions.
Living in a country as diverse as India, it is high time that we, as citizens, begin standing up to discrimination of people from Northeast as and when we would witness it and condemn the perpetrators right at their act.
Why most perpetrators continue with their atrocious attitude in India is the belief that they can get away with it and if people begin admonishing them collectively, a certain sense of fear would prevent them from committing it.
It is also high time that we take racial discrimination in India seriously before it starts penetrating into the minds of the younger generation, who would otherwise grow up regarding folks from the Northeastern states in lower light.
When more people would consciously take a stance, change will occur.
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