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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chp 528. North East: The New Tibet

When Indians are racially profiled at places like airports and malls in America, we raise a huge hue and cry about it. And yet, back home, we do the same with our own people and suddenly, it seems reasonable. Yesterday’s news about not allowing any Northeasterners to be near the visiting Chinese Premier is perhaps one of the most ridiculous and bizarre news I have read recently.

I can just put a stop to this ridiculousness with a blunt statement – “WTF. NORTH EAST INDIANS AREN’T TIBETANS”.

Not allowing any Northeasterner near the visiting Premier because of the Tibetan issue is as good as putting this new map into our school books.

But this needs to be dealt with seriously and explained more elaborately, otherwise it’s just going to repeat over and over again whenever some high ranking Chinese official visit our country. My Mizo friends were once stopped in Delhi near CP when an important Chinese delegation was visiting the city a couple of years ago. They were pissed off. All they wanted to do was eat lunch at a restaurant. Other Indians were let through except them. And they said the racial difference between those who were stopped and allowed was obvious.

They even showed the paramilitary cops their PAN Cards and driving licenses. But the reply was stern - they just weren’t allowed to pass through. Another guy said he wasn’t carrying a passport right then, but even if he was carrying it around for some random reason, it wouldn’t have made any difference. And I have heard about many such incidences from other Northeasterners living in Delhi whenever we get a visit from across the border.

This is plain silly and it needs to be stopped, for good.

First and foremost, there is a huge difference between Tibetans and people from the North East. You will of course find Tibetans here and there in the North East (just as you’ll find Nepalis), and some Arunachalis and Sikkimese are said to be essentially Tibetans by heritage. But other than that we don’t speak the same language or share the same culture, among many other things. And personally speaking, much as I sympathize with the Tibetan cause, I know for a fact that a large majority of the North Eastern population are more preoccupied with their own issues than to be bothered about the Tibetan issue. Until college when I finally met somebody from Tibet, the closest interaction I ever had with Tibet was perhaps reading Tintin’s “Tintin in Tibet”.

And being somebody who had travelled all across India, I know a lot more people from this side of the country (mainland India) who are Pro-Tibet sympathizers rather than those actually from the North East.

Yes the Tibetan issue is controversial. I am not dwelling into that topic here, so I hope my Tibetan friends will understand. Discussing about whether Tibet should be free or not can go all day long, arguing about whether it is right or wrong, throwing up historical facts, wiki links and ANGRY CAPS LOCK ON COMMENTS. No, in this post, I just want to ask why North East Indians always have to serve as collateral damage whenever an important Chinese diplomat visits India.

Below are some of the comments in social media, justifying this act. [source]

Its not racism, its bcoz of tensions involved between china and northeast

WHAT tensions does the North East have with China???? The Tibetan exiles living in India have an issue with China. Other than the border dispute issue India has with China in Arunachal Pradesh (which China claims is a part of South Tibet) that most of us are aware of, do you really think Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya or Tripura are bothered about China? In fact if you look at the history of the North East, back during the days when insurgency was more rampant, a lot of the insurgent groups had camps based in China. I frankly do not know any people from the North East who are angry with China (except when some Indians randomly call us “Chinese” in public, that pisses the hell out of us).

And that comment about Indira Gandhi, that is way too terrifying, dude. You’re seriously comparing what a Sikh bodyguard did to our late Prime Minister because of her action at Golden Temple to this? Remember the aftermath of that assassination? That is exactly the reason why North Easterners find it so difficult to be accepted as Indians and will always feel insecure. That is exactly the reason why just because Bodos in Assam fought with alleged Bangladeshi immigrants in their area, the ENTIRE Northeastern population living in other parts of India had to live in fear or flee back to the North East back in 2012. Why are we always generalized? God forbid, suppose one of the Chinese Premier’s bodyguards did something to our Prime Minister Modi, what are the chances that the raving mob is going to go after the blood of any Norteasterner with mongoloid features that they see? Scary thought indeed.

becoz north eastern indians have sympathy with tibet

Noooooooooo. Yes for personal reasons, some of us Northeasterners may have sympathy for Tibet, but like I mentioned above, a lot of North East Indians are just like most other Indians - they are really not bothered about causes that do not concern or impact them directly.

Yet it is the NE people, who have no other link with Tibet, being targetted. I call this ignorance.

Give this guy a medal. There should be more people like him. Like I said earlier, I know more non-NE people who support the Tibetan cause than those from the NE, so why are we suddenly being profiled and viewed with suspicion? Sense it makes none.

Democracy is for Indians, not for outsiders.... they should be grateful to us that we have provided shelter to them in our country

Ok what kinda mentality is this? By the way, they were protesting against the visiting Chinese Premier, they weren’t protesting against India. I don’t know any Tibetans who hold a grudge against our country. Why bite the hand that feeds? And it is only natural for people living in a different country to protest about something that strikes close to home, we see this all the time - Muslims living in UK protesting about the recent Gaza-Israel conflict, Indians in America protesting about the Nirbhaya gang rape, etc.

there is always a chance of 1 Radical person to be present among the crores of Indians , which can spoil the relations totally

As far as I know, Tibetans are a bunch of really nice and peaceful people, not to mention beautiful too. Yes there were cases of self-immolations for the Tibetan cause, but how many such protests have we seen that harmed others?

And by the way, is our Sino-India relationship so weak and fragile that a mere protest can “spoil” everything? Think of the bigger picture. That’s what these talks are about.

i think government should have made only north easterns serve Xi.... it was gonna be like a slap on his face for calling north east india as china

Haha seriously, this is such a great suggestion! I would be more than willing to show the Chinese Premier how un-chinese we all are. I volunteer as tribute, even if it’s just to play the role of the doorman. Who’s with me?

Intelligence forces were afraid that some tibetian nationalist might bypass the security and try to harm the Chinese President

look its because tibetans could disguise as NE so to avoid them, dont think as racism

See, this is exactly the reason why we have to deal with such problems. “Afraid of Tibetans passing off as a North Easterner”?

Guys, I am going to say this for the umpteenth time. The North East is not a monotonous group. I just want to point out that around 60% of the entire North Eastern population is Assamese and a lot of them look quite different from Mizos, Nagas, Khasis etc. There are indigenous peoples across the North East who do NOT have what we may consider as a typical mongoloid feature. Whether some of us look more oriental or less oriental, we are all happy with the way we look, because that is who we are. I know people don’t want to say this for fear of being politically incorrect, but it needs to be said - Not everybody from the North East is what you call a “chinky”.

Here in Mumbai, we have recently set up a “North East Helpline – Mumbai”. It is a platform where we help those people from the North East who are being discriminated. If you come to our monthly meetings and look at the representatives from all eight states, you will see a noticeable difference. And though we may vary a bit in looks, all of us are proud of our North Eastern heritage, just like how any other Indian is proud of his roots.

We all know Arnab Goswami. He’s an Assamese.

Below is my close friend here in Mumbai who is currently serving in the Indian Navy. He’s a Mizo.

And below is another friend who is of mix parentage - Her dad is a Mahanta (Assamese) and mom is a Khiangte (Mizo).

See how different all three facial features are. That is the diversity of the North East. That is our pride. No visiting dignitary of any country should take away that pride.

If looks is a factor, I’m sure some of us had friends who are not from the North East who had slight “mongoloid” features. Back in school, it was my friend Chinmoy, and in college, it was Mahima. Put Arnab (Assamese), Chinmoy (Keralite) and Mahima (Delhiite) in a line-up, and I’m sure the person they would allow to go through would ironically be Arnab (assuming the guard doesn’t know him or his reputation) compared to the other two. That is what The Nation Wants Needs To Know. Using “looks” as an excuse for security is a very shallow mindset.

And seriously, we’re talking about the Grand Hyatt here, not just any run-of-the-mill hotel. Won’t the luxury five star hotel have done background-checks on all its employees? Or is it such a lame ass unprofessional hotel not to know whether its staff from the North East is a Tibetan nationalist or not? Maybe they should just put up the map displayed above in their lobby to justify their stand.

All the comments pasted above are just from the same link given above. There are countless of other such comments all over social media regarding this incident, to which I neither have the time nor energy to respond to.

I have always admired Kiren Rijiju, our Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, for being the most outspoken politician of that stature to talk about the North Eastern stance. I wonder what he has to say regarding this. He being from Arunachal Pradesh will know more than any other Northeasterner how frustrating it is in dealing with the way both the Chinese govt and Indian govt treat them.

This needs to stop. I had such high expectations from our current Government, especially considering how General VK Singh, our DONER Minister would make frequent visits to Mumbai and conduct a couple of meetings with many of us North Easterners residing here. This practice of sidelining Northeasterners because of a visiting Chinese diplomat is a setback to all the efforts the Government has taken.

But still I have hope and faith. Faith that in the near future, this will not take place anymore. Meanwhile, I’m just gonna grab my blanket, crawl back into my cave and remain there until this whole nonsense passes by. Wake me up when September ends.

1 comment:

claytonia vices said...

I think somewhere we made a big mistake not teaching logical reasoning and logical fallacies in school.