Northeast India is the eastern-most region of India. It comprises of the contiguous Seven Sister States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura), and the Himalayan state of Sikkim. The Siliguri Corridor in West Bengal, with a width of 21 to 40 kilometres (13 to 25 mi), connects the North Eastern region with East India. The region shares more than 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) of international border (about 90 per cent of its entire border area) with China (southern Tibet) in the north, Myanmar in the east, Bangladesh in the southwest, and Bhutan to the northwest.
We hear incidents of North East students who go for their further studies in, especially, Delhi University in New Delhi and find themselves a victim of taboo and even become a target of bully and harassment of any kind. Firstly, they find it a little difficult to get accustomed to the new environment initially and secondly, they are neglected, left ignored and criticized which mounts up added pressure on them making their life miserable. Adding to that, many people cannot even name the states of North East and oftentimes misunderstand North East for Assam. Other few lots still express their wish to know more about North East. They have in them certain misconceptions and cliche about north east which needs to be cleared out. Take a look at some of the cliche that follows.
- North East people pretend to be western-
Before the Britishers have left India, their evangelical Churches have made a tremendous impact on the states like Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and a few other colonized places of North East except the Brahmaputra valley. The tribes of these states were initially isolated and practised their own old rituals and customs but after coming into contact with the Britishers, they have converted themselves into Christianity and ever since, have been westernised in their lifestyle. They certainly do not pretend to be one as this is the way they live and have grown up with such western values.
- North Eastern girls are shameless and dress to excite men-
This seems to be the worst misconception one could have ever come across. Every culture has its own way of thriving in the way they see best suited to them. As for the tribes of North east, they have their traditional way of dressing and it goes back to their old custom which is said to be traced back from their ancestors. Saying that girls dress to excite or provoke men is nevertheless a crass conception one can form. And the concept of shame certainly does not reside in their clothing but in which way the fellow Indians perceive it in their culture.
- The Northeastern people have no communication skills.
English is the official language of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and the co-official language of Assam and Sikkim. The facts speak for themselves!
- All they do is booze, music and absolutely no studies.
Music is a major part of any northeastern Indian’s life. It is a major part of our culture. It is inculcated in us from our childhood and there is nothing wrong with that! In the colder climates, wine is a normal part of food culture. But it’s certainly not an indulgence! Academics, on the other hand, is an individual preference or interest. Difference in demographic cannot decide who is more likely to be academically involved!
- The Northeast has no roads.
Northeast India has adequate roads, most of which are squeaky clean!
- They eat dogs and anything bizarre-
Well, yes, some Naga and Mizo tribes eat dogs because they see them as a means of food just like the some of our fellow Indians see them as pets. But how can it be applicable to the rest of the north east people? One section of people consuming a certain diet does necessarily not apply to all other sections of people. North east is a region of eight states and each state has its own tribe who have different eating habits. Talking of eating bizarre food, they are as much like the north Indian people living on rice, dal and roti.
7. North East is not safe-
North Indians, including west and even south Indians believe that North East is place of Adivasis and remote tribal people who live in jungles and abduct any person they see as an outsider. They pre-conceive that they carry with them brutal weapons which would slay them since they remain isolated from the rest of the people and into themselves. The truth is, there does not dwell any adivasi who would kill people or any tribal people who would abduct. Here, people are as much civilized and easy going like every other citizen living across the nation and abroad with conscience.
- The Northeast is a hotbed of insurgency.
Yes, we do have armed factions that demand autonomy from the Central government but here’s a fact that will open up your eye to how little popular they are: The Indian general election of 2014 had an 80% voter turnout in all northeastern states, the highest among all states of India. Clearly, the Indian government is more popular among the northeastern citizens than the insurgency!
- All people are “Chinkis”-
A term widely used in the northern India, Chinki , a taboo tag, usually is used in reference to the mongoloid eyes that the tribal people have. But the misconception lies here. The mainland people think that all the people of North east possess such eyes and makes one look like that of a Chinese or Japanese. The line “Chandni Chowk to China” was and still is thrown on the north east people living in Delhi as a means of harassment. They refuse to recognize them and oftentimes, are sceptic about their nationality and alienate them. What they don’t grasp is that not all people of Northeast have such facial feature. Such features can mostly be seen among the tribal community who are the aboriginals and not those who do not belong to tribes otherwise. A person from Nagaland carries a different physical feature than someone from Assam. But they hardly can discern.
10.North East is not a part of India-
Geographically, all eight states and one brother states of the North east are pretty much within the Indian Territory. It was never isolated and is not isolated from India and dearly belongs to the Indian nation. With the sheer negligence from the Centre, it has been “made” isolated and the people are neglected. This is one of the prime reasons why few fellow Indians are holding on to the absurd misconceptions about North east. Adding to the misery, the low coverage of this region tops the chart. But nevertheless, this region is under the Indian democracy and has all the fundamental rights similar to any other state of this country. So, it is high time you stop considering North eastern states as not belonging to India because it reeks of your poor knowledge.