<Assam’s Kamakhya temple
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Some people are attracted to the Northeast only as tourists as there are many beautiful spots there. Some like it for the wildlife sanctuaries. Others because it is one part of the country facing many invasions –culturally and militarily – and influx from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and China.
Some organisations concerned with India’s Hindu identity are interested in the region because Christianity is dominant there thanks to missionaries. The Muslim influx into Assam, encouraged by some politicians to build-up vote banks, has been posing problems.
And still very few know the region.
I received so much information on NE from Nivedita, a friend and a former student from whom I learnt (As I wrote in my book, it is only a foolish teacher who thinks he/she is the repository of knowledge imparting it to students. The best way to learn is to teach) that I decided to make it one more post.
Nivedita, who quit a senior post in a prominent national daily to pursue what she likes most, had worked in the Northeast.
She feels that while the example of Rani Gaidinliu is perfect, mention should also be made of Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi of Assam, freedom fighter, ‘Premier’ of pre-Independence Assam and its first Chief Minister post freedom, he was a revered leader who foresaw problems arising out of the influx.
A strict Gandhian in principle and actions, Bordoloi was warded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 2000 posthumously, 50 years after his death. The title ‘Lokpriya’ means beloved of the people. Bordoloi> Moirang in Manipur became a major centre for Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Sena. Many remember ‘Netaji’ Subhash, but not the role played by the people of the Northeast in his movement.
Assam and Manipur have a major Vaishnava tradition. Satras in Assam and Krishna worship in Manipur have been around for centuries. So the idea that all of Northeast is Christian is not correct. The Kamakhya temple of Assam is famous.
She says RSS and its Parivar organisations such as Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Vivekananda Kendra are very active in the NE. Both have a strong network working for integrating the NE with the mainstream India in various ways.
Countering dominance of Christians in all states and Muslims in Assam has been a parallel work for years now. The RSS and its affiliated organisations have strong network of people in other states who have a soft corner for NE, of people who consider NE as part of India. They either go to NE for volunteering, send money and material or host / help people from NE in their respective places.
Nagpur’s Ahilya Mandir is one such place where students from NE, in this case only girls, are kept at the hostel with the help of Nagpur people. There are similar places across India which host NE students.
Dyan Prabodhini from Pune is another organisation working the NE. But more than that, its members and those trained at Prabodhini go to NE to work in the Parivar organisations. Dyan Prabodhini also helps NE students in a major way.
Pune, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata are places where Northeast students go in large numbers to study. Working people from the Northeast are found across India, albeit in small numbers except at Bengaluru and Delhi. There too RSS and its affiliate organisations.support them
Of late, a new organisation called My Home India has started working in the field of integration of NE with rest of India. It offers any and every help to any and every person coming from NE to other states … be it for studies, medical reasons or work. Or even in case of emergency during leisure travel. My Home India also does major work in crime prevention and in case it happens, sorting out cases of child and women trafficking from the Northeast.
Suggesting some measures for integration, Nivedita says that
a) school syllabuses across India should contain more info about NE states
b) greater tourism awareness needs to be created so people from rest of India go there. Right now, only a few places are known among the tourist circuit.
c) Central government servants posted to the NE are treated with kid gloves, given incentives etc., as if it is a punishment posting. This should stop. In fact, this makes many feel NE posting is a ‘Kala Pani’. Instead, whole of India should be divided into zones and each person made to spend at least five years in each zone.
d) Media’s role is more important (and badly found wanting). The less said about it the better. Rajdeep Sardesai calls it ‘Tyranny of Distance’….others don’t mention it.