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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Chp 413. Well done Mary Kom!

(The impact of Mary Kom’s bronze, and what it means for the North East.)

A few hours ago, Mary Kom lost her semi finals bout against home team’s Nicola Adams. I was here at home in Khar West, Mumbai, watching the match with my friends Akshay, Syed, Param, Pooja and Ajay. We actually set the alarm on our phones for 6pm so that we that we wouldn’t miss the fight. In fact we didn’t miss a single fight of hers this Olympics 2012.

She lost, but all of us were bloody proud of her.

I was especially proud of her because she’s from the North East.

I’m not trying to be ethnocentric here. I’m not saying, yay the reason I’m proud of her is because she’s from my region. No.

I’m extremely happy because now more people from India will know about the North East. If you’ve been a regular visitor at sites like TOI, you will be aware of the number of stupid comments and anti-NE hate comments on the comment section. This time, when TOI wrote about how Mary Kom apologized for winning “just” bronze, the comment section was flooded with love for her.

That made me cry with joy.

Like it or not, while most of the underprivileged sections of our society are fighting for rights and justice today, the main battle most people from the North East are fighting today is to be merely recognized as Indians.

Recognition. That is indeed a big issue. A few hours from now, Devendro Singh Laishram from Manipur has his match. I’ll be awake, cheering for him. In fact Manipur has provided a lot of Singhs in various fields like hockey, Sepak takraw, football and various martial arts forms. Unfortunately, from what I have experienced so far, when people see a Singh from Manipur on TV or print media, they assume he is from Punjab or other North Indian states. And again I have to tell them about the people from Manipur. See, that is what we hate. Wrong identification.

When Amitabh Bachchan tweeted about how he’s so proud of Mary Kom from Assam, there was of course a huge uproar from the North East, but I’m active on twitter and I observed right then that most of the people who responded immediately were not from the North East. That was a very positive sign. A trend we need to continue in the future. And he apologized shortly because of the overwhelming responses.

That is what we need – a mass effect from a mass media.

My good friend Anant Rangaswami, editor of First Post, once asked me what I have done for the North East. I told him frankly that when I am not busy working in the advertising industry, I try to blog and write as much as I can about the North East, such that Tehelka magazine once featured me to represent the Indian blogging community in their special edition “The Game changers from 2000-2009”.

His reply? “Good. But is that good enough?”

And he got a point indeed, never mind the ever cynic that he is. Most Tehelka readers are already aware of the North East, and that is not the target we need to educate. They are already educated. 

Baichung Bhutia was the poster boy of North East India. But again, Indians who are really into football already know about the North East. Similarly, the Indian rock music scene - Mizo bands like Boomerang, Scavenger Project, IIIrd Sovereign etc are famous in India, but again, such people who love these bands are already aware about the North East. The same thing goes for awesome Shillong bands like Soulmate and their fans.

The people we need to address do not belong to these genres. We need to reach out to the majority mass. The ones who think we are all from Nepal or China.

And that is what Sourabhee Debbarman from Tripura (Indian Idol season 4) did in 2009, becoming the first female Indian Idol winner. Prashant Tamang (Indian Idol season 3), well technically not from the North East, too did us a favour. And then there’s Meiyang Chang (Top 10 finalist Indian Idol season 3). Nah, he’s not even North Eastern, but I am really proud of his achievements and am a fan of his. Shows like these reach the right audience we need to address.

And now, Mary Kom has become the next messenger, the North Eastern messiah.

She appealed to the common man, surprising them about her Indianness and how such a person can be from India. She won the hearts of the people, and the people lovingly called her Magnificent Mary. She built a large fan following and the media wrote about her and her origin everywhere.

I may have been a long time fan of Mary Kom, but I am especially proud of her performance this Olympics and I hope she continues to shine for India and the North East. God bless her.

Things have indeed been better for people from the North East from the time I first started blogging in 2004. We need a change, a revolution, and that is possible only through a few selected gifted people like Mary Kom. Cheers and goodnight to you all.


Mizohican said...

Devendro lost but it was a bloody awesome match! G'nite.

H3RM!T said...

Nice post. Could not have been better. The mother of two really brought out NE in the limelight and that too for the right reasons. We from NE consider ourselves more athletic than people from other parts of India. I think rather than just whining about lack of recognition, our medals should do the talking

Mizohican said...

Indeed H3RM!T. Anybody (like me for example) can keep ranting and whining about discrimination. But the real impact can be made only by people like Mary Kom and others who actually go out there and win something for India.

mangbuhril said...

good post and good reading. The hype generated by Mary Kom is indeed a game-changer for the whole lot of Indians to better understand and know more about North - East India.
It was a good fight, but to fight against a British on British Soil, you have win significantly, otherwise it's always gonna be tough, the close ones always gonna swing their way.. ( am starting to sound like a sore loser.. :)).

ku2 said...

Well done, Kima!

caribou said...

Infiamna ah a chak reng theih lohva, chaklo zawk awm a ngai thin. Olympic-a participate phak lo an tam em em laia a tel phak ringawt pawh hi a chhuanawm ka tia, chutihlaia sangtak a thleng thei te, medal hial a awrh haw thei te hi a ropui ka ti.

Carey said...

For Zo people (Mizo/Zomi/Kuki) a bonus reason to cheer for is Mary Kom is a "Zonahthlak" (don't know if the spelling is correct!) even though she's from Manipur.

Didini Tochhawng said...

BBC World Olympic Dreams program-a,
" When my opponents are verry cute, I don't want to hit them very hard"... a tih lai kha ka duh tawpz

H.Vangchhia said...

I am very proud of Mary Kom for her valiant performances. A child of Mizo race of Thadou tribe to represent the Indian nation is an absolute awesome!

An khelmual pawh hmu pha velo kan tam em mai, bronze a la chu a ropui thlawt. India hi vaingalsin ho hian sipawt lamah hian min chawisang lo ve em a ni, population-ah bak. Zohnahthlak a ni ngat lehnghal a ka chhuang teh a nia.

Mizohican said...

@ cnep: Thank you :)

@ mangbuhril: After hearing today's sad incidents of students from the North-East being thrashed in Pune just because they happen to be "chinki", I am now having second thoughts about whether Mary's performance will really be that effective or not.

@ kukui: Well done, Kukui!

@ caribou: Ka chhuang tak tak a ni he nu hi chu. Ka ngaihsanna hi a rei ve tawh bawka...

@ Carey: Yep, that's what people are saying. Am very proud of her.

@ Dinky: lolz, yeah, she is so sweet to say that :)

@ H.Vangchhia: hehehe nangmah rawn hnial chak che hi an tam viau ang, i comment hi rawn hme se chu :D I'm really proud of her :)

Shahnaz Kimi said...

Kudos as usual Kima for your excellent article. Mary did not represent the NE, but us Indian women - a fighter and a mother - with her medal she made us all Indian women stand tall on that day and will forever.

H.Vangchhia said...

Kima, fact is a fact and i shall stand by it! hairehai

funny™ said...

Tun sunday khan kan khaw chanchinbu ah Mary Kom hi chhuah turin kalo ziaka, mahse chhuah tur dang pawimawh a awm avangin next a chhuah ah ka dah tha a, duhleh i blog ami hi ka let anga kalo chhuah mai ang aw. hehe

Anonymous said...

The portion of the population that we need to reach are the saas-bahu-sereal-loving, thinks-the-World Cup-only refers-to-cricket crowd.

Anonymous said...

The portion of the population that we need to reach are the saas-bahu-show-loving, thinks-the-World Cup-only refers-to-cricket crowd.

New Year SMS said...

At last some good tidings. Congrats Mary!!!!! You deserve this honour, and I feel proud to
belong to the present generation since we have been fortunate to have witnessed your
glorious moment, which also brought glory to this Nation. God Bless you and your fly.,
and may you have wonderful moments in your future years.