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E-Pao! Opinion - A Foreigner In Own Country

A Foreigner In Own Country

By: The Third Eye / Jimmy Wahengbam *



" Patriotism cannot be judged by the looks, the color of the skin or religion.
It's all about the love you have for your country "


You cannot say a Delhitte is more patriotic than a north-easterner just because of their looks. Looks don't define patriotism. It's all about the love you have for your country and the willingness to defend it. A north-easterner celebrates as much as any Indian does, when the Indian cricket team wins and cries when they lose. When Pakistan attacked Kargil, the wave of patriotism could be felt through out the northeastern states of India.

Many brave soldiers from the northeastern part of the country lost their lives in the war. The northeasterners are as patriotic as any Indian can be. But in the mainland India, there is a big misconception about the northeasterners. Because of their Mongoloid features they are mostly seen as foreigners but hardly as Indian.

The step-motherly treatment meted out to the NE-ers (Northeasterners) doesn't stop in the mainland India but continues throughout the northeastern states. The states are being ignored by the centre for quite a long time. Unemployment is on the rise. The youths are compelled to take up arms. Instead of solving the insurgency problem through peaceful negotiation, the centre is trying to curb it with brutal force.

The entire area has become a war zone with security forces everywhere. And the atrocities committed by them are innumerable. The centre is turning a blind eye to the whole situations. Because of the prevailing situation in the NE states, most parents prefer sending their children to the metropolitan cities; particularly Delhi. Who would have thought that the capital city, which is supposed to be the safest city in the country, would turn out to be so unsafe? Every day is a struggle for the NE-ers in Delhi. The problem starts from the railway station when they arrive in the city and continues on.

Right from the porters to the auto drivers, fleece them to the hilt. The melee doesn't stop here. Searching for a house to stay is another headache. The property dealers who are always on the lookout for an easy prey find them as free fodder for exploitation. The landlords are more concern about the rents than the safety of tenants. The rents are hiked on a regular basis. There is no system or organization to check the ever-increasing rent, which the students find it hard to cope up with.

One of the biggest problems the N-E students face is the language problem. Most of the people in the capital try to take advantage of it, be it the landlord, the shopkeepers, the auto drivers or sometimes-even people whom the NE-ers consider friends. It's hard for them to trust anyone in the city. There are instances in which even the police are not willing to help the students.

The recent rape incident, which occurred in Dhaula Kuan, was just a tip of the iceberg. More than 95% of the incidents that happened in the capital city went unreported. Snide remarks are made everywhere the NE-ers go. Girls are often teased or molested and guys are intimidated which often leads to fight. And when a fight takes place the locals are likely to side with the intimidator. They hardly see who is at fault. What they see is a foreigner fighting an Indian. The NE-ers are always seemed to be at the receiving ends.

The northeasterners have been labeled as uncommunicative and reticent by some section of the public, which is utterly wrong. The truth is, we are as friendly as anyone can be, but when people starts taking advantage of your friendship you stay away from him or her. That's what most of the northeasterners are doing.

Some of the NE-ers have had very bad experiences regarding being friendly with other people. For instance, a northeast student had a Delhitte friend from college. He used to confide almost everything to him until one day when his so-called friend's true intention came to light. His Delhitte friend wanted him to be introduced to N-E girls. Not only his friend had dirty intentions but also he was talking bad things about the northeasterners to his local friends.

This is just one example; there are several similar stories. This is the reason why the NE-ers prefer staying in their own circle. The locals also perceive them as party animals, which is totally baseless. It may be true with some students but it will be completely wrong to generalize the whole community. "Every tree has some bad leaves and you don't cut down a tree just because of some bad leaves".

The NE-ers treat women with utmost respect. Cases like molestation and rape hardly take place in the northeastern states. There are several outsiders residing in the NE states and they are treated with equal respect. Incidents of rape or molestation of non-NE women are unheard of. Women are treated equally, no matter from where they come. On the contrary, the northeast women are mostly seen with contempt, elsewhere.

The media should play an important role in bridging the gap between the locals and the northeasterners. The misconception and misunderstanding should be cleared. There should be unity among the student unions. Help line should be established to aid the students in distress on time.

Better cohesion with powerful, responsible NGOs and human right agencies is a must. Strong tie-ups with concerned government bodies and lawmaking units will be another big boost to them. Last but not the least the students themselves should be wise and aware enough to avoid such kind of social malice.


Jimmy Wahengbam / The Third Eye is a Management Student in New Dehli , writes regularly to e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at third_eye_blind0x0@yahoo.com
This article was webcasted on June 1st , 2005.


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