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Monday, October 04, 2010

Chp 319. Mistaken Identity at the CWG. TOI #FAIL

I usually do all my ranting on twitter these days. It’s short and effective. But sometimes… I guess 140 characters and a couple of retweets aren’t enough to contain one’s emotion.

Recently, Times of India, which has the largest circulation among all English-language newspapers in the world, across all formats [source] shocked many of us just three days ago with their brazen headline about the Ayodhya Verdict (2 parts to Hindus, 1 part to Muslims) which was condemned by a large part of the Nation and Twitteratis.

While most media houses behaved this time and tried not to sensationalize the verdict just to get higher TRP ratings or subscriptions, TOI did not apologize for their headline and later even said it is “clinically correct”.

Then yesterday, one of India’s proudest moments (after weeks of controversy) took place – the opening ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games!

It was absolutely beautiful. Made me proud to be an Indian. And then when the Indian contingent marched in, it was led by Abhinav Bindra proudly carrying our Indian flag. And before him, the signboard holder was wearing our Mizo tradition puanchei dress!!! Wooohooooooooo!

The whole of India and a large majority of worldwide viewer could see the girl dressed in our beautiful Mizo puanchei. Twitter was abuzz with people talking about the Mizo dress. Every Mizo who saw that event almost cried right there on the spot. Such a proud moment it was for us and truly grateful to the organizers for recognizing us at such a grand event.

And then this morning, I woke up, collected the newspaper from outside my door, and was immediately overcome with shock and paralysis when I read the TOI frontpage.

Mizo. Not Naga.

Under the photograph of the Indian contingent lead by Abhinav and the girl wearing the Mizo dress, was the caption: “All the teams were led out by girls wearing saris in different styles, except for the Indian team, which was heralded by a girl in a Naga dress.”

Naga?????????? WTF!!!

Or is this also “clinically correct”, dear editors at TOI?

After all, we look the same as Nagas, speak a language most people would assume are the same even though they are way different from each other, come from a part of the country that many people tend to stereotype and bunch together as one (the same way many of you think all south Indians are madrasis and speak the same language etc)?

To hear about such comments from the common man is one thing. We have grown used to it. But to see that the leading newspaper in the world doesn’t even know its own countrymen, is definitely one of the hardest punches to the groin. Imagine TOI’s millions of subscribers reading about this today.

I mean, how could a newspaper like TOI get it wrong?

In fact, Mizo Cheraw (bamboo dance) dancers were performing right there at the CWG opening ceremony and everybody was talking about it. Those dancers were wearing the same dress as the girl in the picture.

[Youtube video – one of the girls unfortunately fell down during the event! Ouch!]

See the above dear TOI. Same dress. Same freaking dress. Mizo. Not Naga.

I’ve got nothing against my Naga brothers. But this is about giving credit where it’s due. Or is it about ignorance from TOI’s part? The same ignorance we have faced each and every single day?

Had TOI given more footage to the World Record Cheraw dance event a few months ago, then they would have known what a Mizo dress looks like.

Yes. On March 12 this year, Mizoram held the World Record for the largest dance ensemble in the world. Read more about it with lots of photographs and videos here.

Adjudicators from Guinness Book of World Records came and officially declared about our achievement right there on the spot. Even BBC covered the event. More than 10,000 dancers performed for that event. It was a great moment, not just for Mizoram, but for the whole of India.

Yet, TOI didn’t even publish anything about this grand event.

If only they had at least spared a few precious space on their most widely read newspaper with maybe a photo or two of Cheraw dancers, then they would definitely know that the girl carrying the board yesterday was wearing a Mizo dress. Not Naga.

What can we do about this? As of now, all I can do is write to the editors about it. And blog and tweet about it. Yeah. This is how powerless and insignificant we feel sometimes. The one and only time we Mizos got to be recognized by the rest of our countrymen, and TOI blasted that opportunity to smithereens. Thank you very much TOI.

Here’s to the CWG event and hoping it will be a successful one.