TODAY -

Chicken neck syndrome : Idea of North East
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: January 30, 2021 -



The chicken neck syndrome. Metaphorically and figuratively speaking.

This is how the idea of the North East region existed in the mindset of many of those who decided what school students should study and learn.

'What they (Don't) write about North East India in school textbooks', a hard hitting look at how 'Nationalised' school text books prescribed for the young students have miserably failed in linking the idea of the North East region with the idea of India and in the process has given birth to the idea of Us Vs Them, talks about this and more.

A dark reminder of how a country which recently celebrated her 72nd Republic Day on January 26 is still grappling with the idea of a Nation which is inclusive of different sections of society, more particularly the people of the North East region.

Examples are galore to underline how the idea of India as a Nation has unfailingly fallen short of including the North East and her people within the understanding of India and this is where one needs to admit that something, somewhere is terribly wrong.

It was as recent as during the Nationwide lockdown, courtesy the Covid pandemic, that stories of how many from the North East region were vilified, mocked and abused, all because of their Mongoloid appearance and all because the Covid virus originated from Wuhan in China.

And so it was that the people of North East went from Momo, Chinky, Ching-chong Chinaman to Corona in the eyes of the men and women out on the roads in the metros of India.

No wonder then that many from Manipur and the North East were 'compelled' to develop the ghetto mentality and stick among themselves once they step outside the region to pursue their higher education in any of the cities of India or find employment.

'What they (Don't) write about North East India in school textbooks' takes a hard look, mainly from an academic lens, but to the laymen, it all boils down to the basic point of how the region has been left out from the consciousness of generations and generations of India, raising the question of whether such a process to 'leave the region out' was under a design or was through sheer ignorance.

As the article 'What they (Don't) write about North East India in school textbooks' written by a young girl from Manipur and published in The LiveWire (carried in TSE, English edition dated 30th January, 2021 as well), pointed out, while the New York Times on June 23, 1891 reported the Anglo-Manipur war, only a fleeting mention of this war can be found in the history textbooks prescribed for school children in India.

Those who grew up in the 80s and early part of 90s may not at all remember whether Manipur was actually included in any chapter of the textbooks on Indian history or not.

One wonders whether any coverage was given on the first Olympian from Manipur, when he appeared in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 as part of the Indian man's hockey team by the media published from say New Delhi or Mumbai or even Kolkata.

From Look East to Act East, a shift in the stand of the Centre is palpable, but it will need more than this and it should be admitted that a study on the history of India, a contemporary study on the dynamics of the country cannot be complete by leaving out a crucial group of its people.

It is no wonder then why the term chicken neck, that narrow strip of land just above Bangladesh has come to mean much more than just a thin strip of land connecting the North East to the rest of the country.

There is the need to look eastward beyond the Brahmaputra.



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